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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dough Boys [Meeting #105]

Dough Boys
626 South Racine Avenue (Google Maps)
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 243-9799

CPC crowded into Dough Boys in the Little Italy/University Village neighborhood on June 13, 2011.

Billed as a counter-service and delivery pizza place, Dough Boys is yet another collaboration of famed Chicago restaurateurs Scott Harris and Jimmy Bannos (Purple Pig, Salatino’s, etc.), and absolutely nails the casual “pizza joint” vibe they’re shooting for—though with decidedly better pizza than your average joint. From the simple outdoor patio, complete with red and white checkered tablecloths, to the four tables and no-frills interior, to the photocopied notebook paper menu, Dough Boys gets the easy stuff out of the way and focuses on what they know we’re there for: damn good pizza.

Pizza at Dough Boys comes in four styles: (1) Chicago-style thin crust, (2) New York style thin crust, (3) Sicilian and (4) stuffed, with the NY and Sicilian styles also available by the slice. Given all the standard topping options, plus a couple of less common ones like zucchini and roasted red peppers, we got down with the following:

  • Chicago-style thin crust – Daily Special: pepperoni, onion and garlic
  • Chicago-style thin crust – black olives and roasted red peppers
  • New York-style thin crust – sausage (by the slice)
  • New York-style thin crust – cheese (by the slice)
  • Sicilian – pepperoni (by the slice)
  • Sicilian – cheese (by the slice)
  • Stuffed – sausage
While Chicago-style thin crust is often pretty standard fare, the high quality and plentiful ingredients—well seasoned, tangy sauce and soft, creamy mozzarella—make this one a winner. The sturdy, lightly corn meal dusted crust, while perhaps a bit tame in terms of flavor, had a nice crunch and was more than up to the task of holding up under the considerable moisture of the sauce and toppings. Universally enjoyed by CPCers.

The New York-style thin crust, while hindered by the fact that it had been sitting out for not-sure-how-long under the front counter (or is that the secret to its authenticity?), had a delightful end crust, crispy and chewy, with a bottom crust sturdy enough to hold the slice up without needing to fold it or curl the tip back. Served fresh, this slice would be absolutely spot-on, and even slightly dried out under the counter, it was one of the better NY-style slices Chicago has to offer. Definitely a great slice-to-go option.

The Sicilian, unfortunately, suffered far more for having been sitting under the counter so long. While there is no denying that the crust itself is a work of baking magic, it is more than an inch thick, superbly light and airy on the inside and wonderfully crisp on the outside, the thickened cheese and lack of sauce made this slice a disappointment, and clearly the least popular amongst CPCers. A bit more sauce, a bit less cheese and a bit less time sitting around under the counter, and this one could really be a gem.

The stuffed pizza is clearly the treasure here and the real reason why Dough Boys is destination dining. Taking 40 minutes from order to table, this labor of love boasts a lard crust that gives it a unique richness of flavor and a flakier, crispier texture than just about any other stuffed pizza can offer. Topped with a wonderfully generous dose of the aforementioned soft, creamy mozzarella and covered with a wallop of chunky, tangy sauce, this bad lad deserves recognition as one of the finest stuffed pizzas in Chicago.

The bill for one stuffed sausage, three NY style slices, three Sicilian slices and two Chicago style thin crust pizzas came to $99, a mere $11 per person. That’s not much dough at all, boys!

As an added bonus, Dough Boys is a few short blocks away from the lovely Mario’s Italian Ice, a wooden stand painted in the Italian green, white and red, jutting out from the front of a brick row house on Taylor St.

A cool, fruity and delicious way to end a great night of grub.