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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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A Mob Hit!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 @ 12:02 PM

** I apologize for this post being so late, it would seem my windows live writer is having some difficulties, so since I had to use WordPress this time, that would explain for the less than stellar photo arranging … hoping the have the problems fixed soon!

Happy Valentine’s Day…belated!  Adam informed me that I should have written   this post on Monday, so it would have been ready on the actual day where it would have been poignant, but such is life and stubborn me didn’t listen to him…, as usual. 😉  Why is this post poignant for Cupid’s Day you ask?  Well, this week’s spot has quite a history, most notoriously as sitting right across the street from the location of one of the most notorious spots in Mobster history.  I referring to the famed 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago and what is now The Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.

Luckily the future home of this popular local spot wasn’t affected by the acts of Al Capone’s henchmen on that fateful day per se and has even outlasted the garage where the mayhem occurred; and in 1972, The Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. was born at 2121 N. Clark Street where it has been serving up their signature “pizza pot pies” ever since.

We paid our first visit when we still lived in the city and at the time I am not sure we were all that impressed.  It’s not that it wasn’t good, I just think we weren’t really prepared for what we were about to try and therefore we compared it too much to other Chicago pizzas.  That is really the key…, you can’t compare these pot pies to any other pizza in Chicago, and if you know Chicago-Style Pizza, you will understand.  We unfortunately made the mistake of wanting and expecting what we were used to in traditional Chicago-style….like Gino’s or Giordano’s.  However, the Pizza Pot Pie is really unlike anything else you have ever tried, and not understanding that was our first mistake, because it’s like comparing chili to tomato soup.

So even though we weren’t very excited about our first trip, we decided to give them another shot last year on to commemorate Valentine’s Day.  Plus, between visits, it just so happened that they were featured on an episode of “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” making it even more of a pop culture icon.

As I said a minute ago, these pot pies are unlike anything you have ever tried.  They are an individual pie with a shell made out of pizza dough to form a bowl with a center or meat and sauce, all covered in a wonderful ooey gooey mess of cheese!  Let’s just say this time around, knowing what to expect….big hit!  Adam was such a fan I thought he was going to lick the plate clean. 😀

Still, while the pot pies are good, the main reason we went back and my favorite thing on their menu is their Mediterranean bread.  This bread is a HUGE…and I mean HUGE portion of flat bread covered in oil and seasonings that you simply just rip apart with your hands and enjoy.  Adam always helps me out with this dish and we typically are even able to take some home it is that big.  So our typical order is a pot pie, which I take a bite or two of, the flatbread, and a huge salad with their homemade house dressings that I usually buy a bottle of to take home they are that yummy!

Although it was fitting that we visited around Valentine’s Day, that is by no means the only time to go.  The Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. is perfect for a date or an easy evening out.  It’s got a dark cozy basement setting and totally relaxed atmosphere which makes for quite the romantic setting; and while we have never had to wait terribly long, this place isn’t very large, so on a weekend evening I would suggest trying to get their pretty early so you can be sure you get to enjoy.

SIGNATURE DISH: Having never heard of a Pizza Pot Pie in my lifetime before, I’m pretty sure you would call that quite a signature dish; and Adam and I have traveled a fair amount and have never come across anything close to this dish in the pizza world.  It’s truly a wonderful unique element in the culinary world.

TASTE: As I said above, I wasn’t wowed by the taste on our first visit (except for the Mediterranean bread), but I think that was due to my wanting to compare it to what I was used to with Chicago-style pizza.  But Chicago-style it is not, so you can’t think of it that way.  Standing alone, however, it is a wonderful warm dish with great flavor.  Plus, aside from the pot pie, I would go back for the Mediterranean bread any day.  It’s fantastic!

AMBIANCE: The restaurant isn’t very large and the booths are very packed in, but I think that create a great atmosphere.  To some it is very romantic, while it is also just a cozy neighborhood tavern.  Regardless, it’s got a unique feel and a great place to spend an hour or more.

PRICE: The pot pies are $10.75 for a ½ pounder and $21.50 for the full pounder, which is massive!  2 people could easily share the ½ pounder with some bread and a salad (neither of which are exorbitant) especially given their size.  Overall, for Chicago especially, I found their prices to be very reasonable.

SERVICE: It’s pretty tight quarters like I said, and to be delivering food and quickly in them can be quite difficult.  But on both occasions, our servers seemed very confident, pleasant, and able to get our food to us fast, which when I am super hungry I always appreciate!

I am very happy that we re-discovered Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co., and as I write this post, we are even talking about going back this weekend.  We have definitely been turned into fans, and in our opinions, it truly is a gem in a city full of restaurants.  I give it 4 ½ ‘Little Piggies’

2 Responses to “A Mob Hit!”

  1. PaigeP says:

    I have seen this restaurant several times on different FoodNetwork and Travel Channel shows. I have always wanted to try their “pot pie.” I’ve only been to Chicago once, and we opted for Gino’s East one night and Lou Malnati’s the next. If I’m ever in Chicago again, I will definitely make an effort to get to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.

    Also, I love your blog. Hearing from regular people (not just television shows) gives me a better idea if popular restaurants are really good or just pumped up from TV hype.

    • Katie says:

      Thanks for the sweet comment, I always love hearing that there are actually people out there reading what I have to say 🙂 Also, love the title of your blog!

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