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Sunday, April 08, 2012

Jimmy’s Pizza Café [Meeting #108]

Jimmy’s Pizza Café
5159 N Lincoln Ave (Google Maps)
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 293-6992

CPC shoehorned into Jimmy’s Pizza Café on March 29, 2012.

It was only two meetings ago that I lamented the state of Chicago’s Pizza by the Slice offerings, both in terms of quantity and quality, and I still stand by the fact that for a city to be as bike and pedestrian-friendly as our new mayor and everyone else around town seem to want it to be, we need to have a plethora of suitable single-serve dining options- first and foremost, Pizza by the Slice.

So it was with great pleasure that I read the CPC email suggesting Jimmy’s Pizza Café for our next meeting. Jimmy’s is just a few short blocks from my apartment, and since they opened late last year, I’ve been there at least 2-3 times a month to get down with their New York (and New Orleans- more on that later) style goodness.

Jimmy’s is designed in the simple, traditional, small-tables, pies-on-display, order-at-the-counter pizzeria manner, but based on the size and tastes of our group, we decided to order whole pizzas rather than slices.

The first pie up was half-jalapeno half-spinach. Though lighter on the toppings and meat than most CPCers would ordinarily prefer, this pizza went over quite well. The jalapenos were hot- more than a few were pulled off of slices around the table, but this relatively simple pie was the perfect introduction to the Jimmy’s experience. Simply put, Jimmy’s is amongst the elites as far as NY style pizza in Chicago goes. From the perfectly crisp bottom layer up through the moist chewiness of the mid-dough, the sweet tang of the sauce, perfectly adequate but never excessive blanket of mozz, to the occasional char bubbles around the crispy/chewy collar, these guys nail the foldable savory sweetness that New Yorkers have justifiably loved and bragged about for decades.

Next up was the sausage and mushroom. The fennel-heavy sausage was a universal crowd-pleaser, and while the mushrooms didn't appear to be anything more than regular button mushrooms, they were surprisingly flavorful and stood up well to the sausage.

Last but undoubtedly not least was the bulgogi kimchi (props to LTHforum for letting us know about it in this post), a special, off-menu pie that requires pre-order notice a few days ahead of time. This monster, topped with bulgogi, kimchi, garlic, scallions, sesame seeds and egg, was thoroughly enjoyed, though a few CPCers seemed a bit overwhelmed by the intensity of the flavor combination. Additionally, as this pizza was far more heavily topped than their ordinary offerings, the crust was hard pressed to handle that much weight, and this was definitely the soggiest of the three pizzas we ordered, limp crusts sagging under their mighty burden.

In addition to this fantastic pizza, Jimmy also offers Intelligensia coffee and homemade beignets— pillowy New Orleans style doughnuts topped with powdered sugar—and dang if they weren’t the perfect ending to our meal.

Jimmy’s Pizza Café has so much working in its favor- let’s just hope the slightly out of way and inconducive-to-walk-ups location at the corner of Foster and Lincoln Avenues doesn’t keep people from checking out this north side gem.


  1. Jimmy's is solid, solid pizza. On my previous visit, I thought the sauce was too pasty, but that was definitely not a problem this time around. Everything was good, but nothing really blew me away. The crisp and chewy crust was a solid piece of bread, the sauce was pretty bright and tangy, the cheese was good, and all of the toppings were spot on. I appreciated the creativity behind the specialty pizza, but some kind of moderation is needed to bring that thing into balance. I give it a very good 7.3.

  2. I thought that for a by-the-slice place, this was pretty decent. However, the convenience of getting a slice was offset by some of the negatives. The crust was a bit limp, and as opposed to the Root where the crust itself is a delicious piece of bread, this one was less impressive and too chewy. I got tired (physically) by eating it. The bulgogi pizza was awesome, inasmuch as I like bulgogi. They could probably just sell the bulgogi with rice and do as well as selling it on pizza. Predictably, it's kind of a shtick and an impractically heavy pizza. The sausage and mushroom was the best one because the sausage was just plain good. Hurray for sausage.

    The drink selections were good, the service was very friendly and quick, and the by-the-slice approach remains a welcome novelty in Chicago. However, you'll notice that none of their outstanding attributes are quality of pizza. Certainly decent, but not necessarily somewhere I feel obliged to try again.


  3. I thought their tomato sauce was pretty stinkin' good. Couple that with pretty decent rest-of-pizza ingredients and you've got yourself a no-brainer if you're nearby and want something quick and satisfying. Good job, Jimmy's!


  4. For the reasons I wrote in the review, I give Jimmy's a strong 7.8

  5. I really liked Jimmy's. Spinach pizza can get to be a soggy, wilty mess in the wrong hand. The spinach came to the table just wilted, which is just how I like it. The sausage was also very good and worth a try.

    I also rather enjoyed the bulgogi pizza. I don't think it is quite right to call this pizza a gimmick. It must be hard to come up with something new and relevant in the pizza world, something that can make your little pizza place stand out among all the others. I think the bulgogi pizza is a fair attempt at pizza fusion that really works pretty well. The only problem is that you have to special order it. They really ought to have it on the menu all the time. And, they should also experiment with the crust so it can handle the toppings a little better. It's definitely worth promoting and making better.

    I give Jimmy's a 7.5.

  6. I am a new fan of Jimmy's. I agree with most everyone that sauce/cheese/bread balance was ideal and the crust was tasty and spot on texture wise. I am a big fan of the Bulgogi/Kimchi pie, primary because the Bulgogi was by itself, very good. Fusion rarely works perfectly ... which I believe is the point. You can't expect a traditional pizza experience when you are ordering one that is obviously not. Whether you are having taco pizza, italian beef pizza, or bulgogi pizza ... the flavors will never meld comfortably, which is the point.

    I love this place so much that I have since reordered.