Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pequod's Pizza

 Chicago is a pizza town. A pizza crazy town. There is the deservedly famous deep dish style, unbelievably dense stuffed varieties (deep dish with a top crust, basically), thin crust "New York" pies, thin crust Chicago style, "authentic" Italian wood-fired crusts, and -- served at just a few Chicago establishments -- pan pizza. Not to be confused with the better known deep dish, pan pizza has it's rich, flaky crust only on the bottom of the raised edge pan. Instead of crust holding in the substantial fillings pan pizza features a crispy caramelized outer ring of melted cheese.
Pequod's is a neighborhood place. Small and off the beaten tourist path enough that my cab driver didn't know where it is, Pequod's nevertheless manages to hit just about every best of list and is a deserved favorite among local pizza lovers. Pan pizza -- like other unique Chicago styles -- starts with an uncommon crust. Almost a savory pie shell, the buttery, oily, rich dough is baked until the bottom is crisp and the pastry flaky. Unlike any pizza dough I've ever tasted.
On top of that flaky dough comes layers of filling. First thinly sliced mozzarella cheese that melts into a gooey barrier keeping the crust from getting soggy under the mountain of fillings. Next they pile on the sauce, a thick almost chunky uncooked canned tomato concoction that bakes along with the pie. For my toppings I added sliced tomatoes, black olives, and Pequod's renown Italian sausage.
This is not a pizza you can fold over and munch happily while strolling the city streets. This is a hefty pizza flavored casserole you eat with a knife and fork.

 Pequod's lunch special -- a 7" cheese pan pizza and a beer or soft drink for $4.95 may be the best lunch deal ever. With extra toppings and tip I still walked out for less that $10, smiling ear to ear. I can't imagine how the golden arches manages to sell a single burger in a town with lunch options like Pequod's.

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