September 20, 2007

ahem, i told you so

The newest issue of Saveur just arrived, trumpeting an entire issue about how great a food town Chicago is.

Well, DUH. Been saying that for years now. :-)

I haven't even read it yet, but I was appalled to see that they put a deep-dish pizza on the cover. Oh, please. Have an original thought, already, willya? And on top of that, deep-dish pizza is nothing but a dowdy, doughy, unappealing mess. Why could they not choose one of the many, many other things emblematic of Chicago that DO taste good?

For starters, the Italian Beef. Found nowhere but Chicago, as far as I can tell, outrageously delicious, and varying widely enough in style and execution to trigger religious disputes among the citizenry.

Sigh. Perhaps they will redeem themselves when i get down to the reading of the articles... but i fear not. I still slobber over this particular slice of food porn whenever it arrives, but the caliber of the magazine has been declining the last couple of years. Much of the original staff has moved on, the redesign of the graphics was dreadful, making it just as pedestrian as all the other food mags, and the articles have started feeling a little too rote a little too often. Eh, I kvetch. I'm still gonna read every damn word of it except the wine articles.

Posted by foodnerd at September 20, 2007 03:37 PM

"I'm still gonna read every damn word of it except the wine articles."

FN, I'm disappointed in you!


Posted by: Chris at September 20, 2007 04:02 PM

(Dobby voice) YOU MUST NOT DISS DEEP DISH POTTER! I MEAN PIZZA! (Dobby voice off)

Seriously, not to take anything else away from Chicago's many delights, but GOOD deep dish pizza -- and here I specifically exclude the blight that Pizzeria Uno has become -- is a wonderful thing. I challenge you to come out here and try Star Pizza on Divisadero, or, if possible, go back to circa 1982 and go to The Back Yard in Newton Centre. Then we'll talk.

Posted by: Matthias at September 20, 2007 04:29 PM


i could read that wine stuff, but i would never retain it and i would glaze over by the second paragraph. i like wine, and i can appreciate its varied pleasures as it hits the tongue, but for some reason my brain is not wired to grok wine knowledge. i rely on you people for that -- especially you, C.

and my brain is *definitely* not wired to appreciate deep dish pizza. y'all out in SF may have sorted out the problems (seeing as how San Franciscans seem to be able to make just about anything taste really really good) and i reserve judgement on that until i try it, but at the source, in the city of Chicago, the stuff is crap.

Posted by: foodnerd at September 20, 2007 10:43 PM

I've spent a fair amount of time in Chicago over the past 3 years or so, and I've never had even tolerably good pizza there. That doesn't mean such a thing as good pizza doesn't exist in Chicago, but it sure doesn't seem to be easy to find.

FN, I assume the San Francisco reference is to Zachary's? That's pretty good deep-dish pie. But it can't hold a candle to the thin (and I mean *thin*) crusted stuff at Portland's Apizza Scholls or Ken's Artisan Pizza. C'mon out here, FN, and I'll prove it. :)

Posted by: C at September 21, 2007 05:16 PM

naw, C -- matthias is in SF, and he's claiming that some place on Divisadero makes good Chicago-style pie. And I am willing to at least *consider* the possibility that a Chicago pie MIGHT be acceptable in the hands of San Franciscans... but I would have to try it myself to be sure. :-)

Posted by: foodnerd at September 21, 2007 07:41 PM

I actually hadn't discovered Zachary's yet. It's going on the list for the next time I'm in the East Bay with a meal to be had. Here's the secret to Little Star's pizza (that being the correct name): slightly crispy, relatively thin crust, I suspect made with cornmeal; yummy cheese; and LOTS of fresh tomatoes on top. And basil, I think. Damn, now I'm hungry.

Anyway, how can you not be wired to like deep dish pizza? When you get right down to it, as long as the crust isn't all blah, it's all about melted cheese -- a big round fondue, almost. Incidentally regular pizza is one of the few things it's really hard to find done well here in S.F. Non-burrito Mexican food is another one. Explain that to me.

Posted by: Matthias at September 22, 2007 03:30 AM

actually, my primary problem with deep dish pizza IS the crust. it is almost always a doughy, bland, undercooked nightmare. And that in combination with fondue-esque quantities of cheese and paltry daubs of chunky tomato sauce just ain't good eatin'. Pequod's -- which my coworkers all adore and claim is the best in town -- has a crispy crust EXTERIOR, which makes it better than the average, but the crust is still just too damned thick and doughy overall.

and i have no idea what the deal is with the burritos in SF -- at this point i am so spoiled by two years in Chicago, eating fantastic regional Mexican food from all corners of that nation, that I am disappointed by just about everything else. I can't find a decent tortilla in Boston anywhere -- all the Latin markets have the same half-assed brand. I am getting a methadone fix from the two Guatemalan places in Waltham, which do very good food that is nearly the equal of my beloved Perez, but I am not a fan of Guatemalan tortillas. They are dense and thick -- hm, not unlike the deep dish pizza crust I also don't like much -- and though at least one place in town makes them with a very good masa which gives delicious corn flavor, they're just not the same as a lovely flat thin corn-tastic Mexican tortilla hot off the press.

Posted by: foodnerd at September 23, 2007 04:24 PM

100% agreed on the crust issue. See? We're not so different after all, you and I.

On the Mexican food front, don't get me wrong -- the Mission is chock full of burrito places, many of which are excellent. (This hysterical article on the "Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel" is a classic and deserves to be publicized: [grr, the spam filter is blocking the word 'h t t p', add it yourself].) Although I can't tell the difference between a good tortilla and a great one, so I grant your superior powers of discrimination.

But a good sit-down Mexican place, with food that doesn't come wrapped in tin foil -- in Boston that might be Sol Azteca, or the late lamented Casa Mexico -- is harder to find in SF. I know several good ones outside the city proper, but even in the Mission they're scarce. It just makes no sense to me.

This is even further off topic, but I just discovered yesterday that the ancient greasy spoon in my neighborhood, Herb's Fine Foods, has closed after 64 years. I'm heartbroken.

Posted by: Matthias Ferber at September 24, 2007 01:01 AM

I just posted this on the other pizza-ish thread - but if you're in Chicago, try out Crust, Spacca Napoli, or Coal Fire. Talk about great pizza..

Posted by: Katherine at November 10, 2007 09:10 AM
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