What’s not to love about pizza? The simple combination of warm bread, tangy tomato sauce and melted cheese is irresistible. But pizza is as personal as there are people who love it and its variations are equally boundless. The choices for crust alone are many: thin, thick, crispy, chewy, stuffed, or even fluffy and bread-like. Sauces range from creamy white, green pesto, tangy tomato, smooth or chunky, BBQ, even thai spice. Cheese-wise, Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, Parmesan, feta, cheddar . . . and the topping list is endless. Some folks even debate about the layering. Cheese on top, middle or bottom? Sauce on top or bottom? Toppings sometimes get placed on the bottom (bottomings?). With so many possibilities, who knew the taste of heaven could be so complicated?
After a day like today of sketching around the city, I’m super hungry and a Chicago style deep dish pizza is what I crave. Just a few blocks away from Millennium Park is the original Pizzeria Uno’s restaurant that opened back in 1943. To get there, we walked a few blocks over to the corner of Ohio and Wabash and I stood on the street corner to start a sketch of the restaurant. After finishing the line work, we entered the restaurant where we found several other couples waiting for a table. The rich smell of pizza made my mouth water. My wife Marilyn leaned over and said, “I’m glad we came here on a Tuesday mid afternoon, there’s hardly anyone here.” We asked for a table-for-two and lucky us, one just became available.
We were seated at a front table, with a window view. I couldn’t have been happier. I placed my order for a Numero Uno—”the works” pizza with sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms and Uno’s unique chunky tomato sauce–topped with mozzarella and grated Romano. Then I began to draw my place setting, leaving space to sketch in my pizza when it arrived.
Deep dish pizza was invented in Chicago and Pizzeria Uno’s claims they introduced it to the world. But as with any number-one-claims-to-fame, there are controversies surrounding who actually owns the top spot. But who am I to argue? I just want a great tasting Chicago style deep dish pizza. While I’ve been in Chicago, I’ve made the rounds to pizza restaurants that serve all styles from thin to thick crust. But to simplify things, I like to eat the style of pizza that the region is best known for so while I’m in Chicago, deep-dish rules.
When my pizza arrived, I briefly sketched and photographed the pie, then grabbed my utensils and dove in. Against the knife, the warm crust cracked with perfection, crisp and buttery. The slightly-chunky sauce zinged with piquant spice, the delicious blend of cheeses enriched mouth feel, the fresh vegetables were cooked just right, the pepperoni and sausage enlivened my palette. But pizza is much more than a sum of its parts. Perfect pizza unifies the individual ingredients into a collective whole. This pizza had that balanced quality and was heaven for my taste buds. After savoring each bite ’til the last, I proclaimed Pizzeria Uno’s to be the best pizza I’ve tasted in Chi-town!