Cris Nannarone traveled to Chicago to fulfill a boyhood dream of eating authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. This Canadian got his childhood wish and now that he made it to Chi-town; he asked the locals, where he could get the best deep-dish Chicago style pizza?
Cris even sought the expert in deep-dish pizza, Robert Scarola, a dining, food and wine writer, who should know the best. By the looks of this tall beanpole of a guy, it is difficult to believe he loves to eat. Robert gave Cris the history of Chicago-style pizza, and when Cris requested the meatiest, juiciest, biggest and tastiest pizza, Robert took him to Burt's Place. This pizzeria has been around since 1989, and Burt Katz is the master of his craft. This cash only, call-ahead, no reservations place is run like the Soup-Nazi of Seinfeld. When Cris asked Burt for his best pizza, he gave him the menu and told him to try whichever he wanted. Cris chose the Pepperoni Sausage Pizza, which will be entered in the challenge. Burt would not disclose how he made the dough, but did cover the entire pizza in mozzarella cheese from Wisconsin then he put on the sauce. Cris questioned this action, and was told that this way the cheese does not burn. He added tons of sausage, pepperoni, olives, peppers, Romano cheese and fresh oregano. Then into the oven it went. When Cris tasted this masterpiece, he was brought to tears and hugged and even kissed Burt’s engineer hat. When asked if this was the best pizza in Chicago; Burt said he would leave that decision to his customers.
When he retreated back to the street, he asked people where he could find their opinion of the best Chicago had to offer. Coalfire was a resounding reply he received. Although it was not deep-dish, their thin-crust pizza was raved about by many. At the pizzeria, customers raved about their pizza for not having a thick crust, so Cris gave it a try. Head chef Bill Harrison, manning the 1,000 degree coal-fired oven was recruited by co-owner Dave Bonomi, who found out that Bill was actually from Queens, New York. Bill promised to give Cris a pizza he will never forget; the Nduja Pizza, which is an Italian pork sausage similar to French Andouille sausage. His crust is made with five ingredients, flour, water, salt, yeast and love and topped with lightly seasoned sauce, mozzarella cheese, Nduja sausage, fresh basil and Romano cheese. Cris asked Bill if he ever heard any good Al Capone stories since he has been living in Chicago, and he told Cris that everybody claims to have a chair that Al Capone farted in, as Cris cracked up. When the pizza was ready, Cris was torn as he tasted this delicious treat and asked Bill; “Nduja think this is the best pizza in Chicago?” Bill knew it was the best and his customers agreed.
Next place Cris was sent to by several people, was Dimo's. Here he found out that anything goes on a pizza there. Customers told Cris that they loved the macaroni & cheese pizza, the spicy chicken burrito, chicken and waffles, and more. Cris confessed that mac & cheese and peanut butter got him through college, so he could identify. So Cris met up with Dimo himself, whose real name is Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau, chef and owner. As Dimo pointed out the numerous kinds of pizza, he served, Cris was amazed. Then Dimo told him that he missed one; the steak nacho pizza. So Cris got to watch the mad scientist of pizza make his creation. He took the dough and made it as thin as could be, then added mozzarella cheese, sour cream, carne asada or grilled meat, into the oven it went. When it came out, they added pico de gallo, crushed nacho chips and cheddar cheese. Back into the oven until it was melted, and as Cris stood in amazement, Dimo added some green tomato salsa and they both feasted. Cris agreed that Dimo combined ball park nachos with pizza in one bite and believed it was truly amazing.
Cris found an old-fashioned trolley and brought his judges to and from the three places. As they traveled to each establishment, each one had an experience beyond their wildest dreams. Will the winner be the deep-dish Pepperoni Sausage Pizza from Burt's Place, the Nduja Pizza from Coalfire, or the Steak Nacho Pizza from Dimo's?
So the votes were tallied and the winner was chosen, and true to the traditional Chicago feeling; Burt's Place was chosen the winner, but the other two were a close second. Enjoy that pizza trophy Burt, and display that banner proudly!
If you liked what you read and are hoping Cris will be coming to a location near you, Subscribe, and you will never miss another post from this Television Examiner. Thanks!