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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roots Handmade Pizza [Meeting #107]

Roots Handmade Pizza
1924 W. Chicago Avenue (Google Maps)
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 645-4949

CPC invaded Roots Handmade Pizza on February 7. 2010.

Deep dish; stuffed; Neapolitan; New York; New Haven; Midwestern thin crust. What do all of those pizza styles have in common? Every respectable pizza aficionado knows what they're all about. Now what about Quad Cities style? Ever heard of it? Do you know where the Quad Cities are? Do you know how many cities are in the Quad Cities?

First, the easy answers. There are actually five cities in the Quad Cities and they are on the Illinois and Iowa sides of the Mississippi River. I've been there twice, once to witness the 1997 Great American Bash and once a couple years later for a girl. I finally outgrew wrestling and the girl is married. And because I failed to get pizza on either visit and I may never get back to the area, the possibility exists that I wouldn't have gotten to try Quad Cities style pizza were it not for Roots Handmade Pizza.

That brings me to the other questions: Yes, the Quad Cities have developed their own pizza style. It's basically regular thin crust pizza but with the twist of having malt in the crust. The malt makes the crust a bit more yeasty than is found on the average pizza and supposedly is responsible for some extra chewiness.

Anyhow, on to the food...

While the Pizza Clubbers are typically just a pizza-eating crowd when we gather together, the mozzarella sticks at Roots are an absolute requirement. At $9 for 5 of them, these are certainly the priciest mozzarella sticks any of us have encountered. I'll let everyone else speak for themselves, but I'd say they are also the best. Crafted from housemade mozzarella and covered with a crisp and well-seasoned/salty batter, these might actually be worth the price.

For the pizzas themselves, we ordered one with sausage and one taco pizza, two choices that went over very well with 6 1/4 CPC members who came to the meeting. At the end of the meal, we'd inhaled both pies.

I'll start with the sausage because, well, the sausage itself is freaking outstanding. The crumbled bits sausage covered virtually every single inch of the pizza and were loaded with fennel and pepper. The mozzarella was laid on thick and the sauce was pretty sparse, but while less of the former and more of the latter would have been nice, neither thing mattered because that pork was so good.

Taco pizza is apparently a thing in the Quad Cities. And the CPC is no stranger to taco pizzas, having had them at Meeting 31 (Barcello's), Meeting 41 (Michael's), Meeting 45 (Pete's Pizza), Meeting 56 (Pat's Pizza), Meeting 65 (Aurelio's), and Meeting 81 (John's Pizza Ristorante & Lounge). I love Pat's and I didn't go to every single one of those meetings that included taco pizzas, but if there's a better example of this delicacy in Chicago, I've never had it.

Everything about the taco pizza looks and sounds like a bad idea. It's got iceberg lettuce, cheese, beans, sausage, and, even cheesy tortilla chips (consensus was they were inferior to Doritos). Oh, you also get an unlimited supply of packets of taco sauce to go with the thing, something we took full advantage of. Despite the potential for this being nothing more than a silly gimmick, this was one outstanding pizza. And there's no question the extra chewy crust was key to standing up to the mess of toppings on this one.

One little detail of note to all the baseball fans out there: Roots has a couple of baseball connections courtesy of some of the people who invested in co-owners Greg Mohr (QC native) and Scott Weiner pizza venture. The Ricketts family, current overseers of the transformation of the Cubs, put some money into the place. People who, like me, pay far too much attention to these things might remember that Tom Ricketts and the Cubs Wonderboy General Manager watched a World Series game at Fifty/50. Well, that's co-owner Mohr's other restaurant (and their wings will apparently be available at Wrigley Field this year). The other baseball tie is that Yankees outfielder (and Chicago native) Curtis Granderson is also an investor in the place and he even brings some of his Yankee friends over for pizza dinner from time to time when they're in town slapping around the White Sox.


  1. I really, really like this place. It's on the pricey side. Hell, it's damned expensive. But this is some excellent pizza and price doesn't factor into the score. With a little more sauce, I'd go even higher, but as is I give it an 8.4.

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  3. Both pizzas were definitely an experience - I think it's a good place to check out if you've got an itch for something different-but-not-too-different. It's obvious they care about what they put out and have arrived at a place that can appeal to diners of all sorts. I think if they could use anything its more sauce (like Fred's Dad) and I thought I remember wanting more meat on the taco pizza. 7.5

  4. I thought the pizzas and cheesesticks were all very solid. Though, to echo the previous posters, the pizzas definitely needed more sauce. I'm mixed on whether I want that much chewiness in my thin crust too. With more sauce maybe that would be palatable. I'm a big fan on taco pizzas, though the journey to find the best gourmet taco pizza has yet to come to an end. Overall, nice place worth checking out again but needs more sauce.