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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.


  1. I'll begin by saying that, if you visit Dough Boys and want pizza-by-the-slice, you'd probably be better off going during their rush (whenever that is). I saw potential in the pizza that had been cooling its heels in the pizza slammer, but by the time we got to it, it was a glimmer of a shadow of what it could've potentially been (Stu's picture actually enhanced its appearance - well done, sir).

    My favorite was the stuffed pizza (in agreement with the review). The cheese really was very fresh - it had a very clean white color, which reminded me of the globs of fresh mozzarella found on the higher-end pies in the city. The sauce was volcanic red and quite the flavor extrovert - tangy and effervescent. And the crust really was very nice - not too heavy, proprerly proportioned, and sort of pastry-inspired.

    The other pizzas were good - not really memorable or noteworthy. I'll say that if we were rating on their stuffed, alone, I'd go big on points. All things taken into account, however, I say 7.5 (with a warning to avoid the pre-made pizza in the case during non-peak hours).

  2. Dough Boys is great little place that one can easily walk by and not notice in the newly refurbished Little Italy neighborhood. It has a nice little outdoor patio area right in front, and plenty of seats inside.

    The pizza itself was at least above average. The standout was the deep dish with its great sauce. I thought the sauce was a bit sweet while others thought it had a tangy taste to it. Either way it was very good. The cheese was not too chewy and did not stick to the sides of my mouth. The crust was good enough to support the plentiful sauce and sausage. You could eat this pizza with a knife and fork or pick it up with your hands and not have to worry about it falling apart. The other pizzas were fine but did not stand out. I feel I could get those same pizzas in most local pizza parlors and be satisfied but not crave them. The deep dish is worth the trip to Little Italy. You may require a long walk amongst the new single family homes and townhouses in that area to burn off some of the excess calories.

    Overall, I give Dough Boys a solid 7/10.

  3. If I'm going to Dough Boys the odds are I'm there for the stuffed pizza. Which is surprising since I usually prefer a good deep-dish to a stuffed, but Dough Boys does theirs very well. Frankly I wish I could've had more than one slice, but alas, there was other pizza to sample. The by the slice options left me a little sad, Adam is right, you're probably better off going during a rush when they're refreshed a little more often, but the New York style slice was pretty good, I had higher hopes for the Sicilian though that didn't get met.

    The toppings were nothing extraordinary, but nor did they detract, and I think the same goes for the cheese. The real stars on the stuffed pizza were the delicious sauce and the flakey crust, which almost could've made a good meal on its own.


  4. Stuffed Pizza, Stuffed Pizza, Stuffed Pizza. That is what you should get at Dough Boys. The NY Style is great when fresh, as the sausage slice was on this visit. And the pleasantly greasy Sicilian is made all the better by some atypical bottm crispness.

    But it's the stuffed pizza that is truly special. It's got less cheese than the typical stuffed monster and it has a lard-infused crust that is delicious. And the sauce, oh the sauce: Sweet and tangy with little chunks of tomato. This is, by a sizable margin, the best stuffed pizza in Chicago.

    The thin crust is okay.

    If I were just rating the stuffed pizza, Dough Boys would be over 9. I'd give the thin a 5 or so, the NY slice a 7.5 and the Sicilian a 7. Averaging them out would be stupid. Overall, I'm going with an 8.2.

  5. Glad to be back eating some pizza.

    I think I was surprised by how excellent the crust the crust is on the Sicilian, but I was sadly spot on about my prediction about the fate of the sauce and cheese that had been in the case for an unknown amount of time. I would not recommend it to anyone.

    The thin crust is pretty decent, but I can't say I remember much more except that I thought it got soggy too quickly and I'd likely be best served with just a cheese slice or maybe sausage or pepperoni.

    As has been sad above, the showstopper is the stuffed pizza. I have never had a stuffed pizza with a crust as good as this one. It's buttery (or lardy) and flaky without being dry and hard like days old bread. Some people think the herbed crust at Art of Pizza is a gimmick, but I enjoy it and combining those herbs with this crust would be pretty spectacular. The sausage was really fatty - I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but most likely it didn't really matter. I would be interested in trying their spinach pizza because that classic combo was left out of our sampling and I kind of regret that.

    Come for the stuffed, sneer at the rest.