This is the blog and public record of the Chicago Pizza Club. We eat a lot of pizza and share our thoughts on it as well as post any relevant pizza news we come across.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pizano's Pizza & Pasta [Meeting #96; Meeting #22 revisited]

Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
864 N. State Street (Map)
Chicago, IL
(312) 751-1766

CPC invaded Pizano's Pizza & Pasta on 5/11/10.

Oh what a difference 4 years makes. In February 2006, with 21 meetings already under its belt, the Chicago Pizza Club hit the interwebs with a review of Pizano's. The shitty pictures and complete absence of any description of the pizza in that post show how far the pizza club has come. Back then, CPC was a group of friends who liked to go out for pizza. Today, we are a sophisticated pizza eating and reporting operation.

Pizano's is the child of Rudy Malnati, Jr., who is the child of Rudy Malnati, Sr. Rudy Malnati Sr. was the early manager at the original Uno's and later became a partner in the business. Working with him at Uno's was his son from his first marriage, Lou, who would eventually go on to open his eponymous pizzeria. Rudy Sr. eventually married another lady and had another son, Rudy Jr., who was substantially younger than his half-brother Lou. It seems that Rudy Jr. and his father's first family are not besties so rather than go into the family business, he simply went into the family industry instead, founding Pizano's in 1991.

I routinely identify Lou Malnati's as my favorite deep dish pizza in Chicago. But I've had a few misfires there, especially at the Lakeview location. I have never had anything but delicious deep dish pizzas from Pizano's and the 96th Meeting of the Chicago Pizza Club kept my streak alive.

The 7 members came hungry so we ordered three pizzas. Up first was a deep dish "Hey Hey" Jack Brickhouse Special, which comes with sausage and mushrooms. Like every deep dish pie at Pizano's this one featured a killer crisp butter crust and a tangy sauce of chunky tomatoes. The sausage outstanding and the mushrooms were there in sufficient quantity to announce their presence even while paired up with the sausage.

The second pizza was a deep dish Mark's Special, which comes with sliced tomatoes, basil, and fresh garlic. Again, this one had a potent and delicious flavor combination on a perfect butter crust. Personally, I would have liked a little more basil, but I know others in the group disagreed and thought the proportions were spot on.

The last pizza was a thin crust with pepperoni. A few years ago Oprah and her special friend Gayle anointed Pizano's maker of the best thin crust in Chicago. Pizza love is certainly subjective, but I fail to see what criterion they were using that could possibly have had them reach that conclusion. That's not to say the thin crust is bad; it's actually pretty good. But while the deep dish pies are cooked in pans that may well have been used on opening night at Uno's nearly 60 years ago, the thin crust pizzas are not cooked in such character-building cookware. The result was a soft crust that was disappointing. Another knock on the thin crust is that the spectacular sauce from the deep dish pies is nowhere to be found, replaced by a thin sauce that doesn't have much of an impact.

Hiccups with the thin crust aside, this was a night of outstanding pizza. We had two medium deep dish pies and one large thin and a few of us would have gladly eaten more. While the CPC has improved immensely since its last visit to Pizano's, I am happy to report that the pizzeria is still putting out some insanely good pies.

Petey Pizza gives Pizano's a 9.17.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

[Pizza News] Nella Pizzeria Napoletana sans Nella

Nella Pizzeria Napoletana (review) is still up and running and packed as ever. However, there might be a little bit more room now that they've lost the services of their namesake pizzaiolo.

Per this Chicago Reader article, Nella has been booted (or left, whatever). They are still open for business, but we have no word yet on how good the pizza is without the main talent there to steer it. Also, it appears the second location on Taylor street is a no-go. I have always suspected I didn't like Spacca Napoli as much because I never had her make my pizza. I suppose I will find out if I still like Nella Pizzeria Napoletana as much without her.