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Chicago Style Pizza

May 3, 2010

  • 10420 Portage Road
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 323-0807
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

Another Sunday pizza night.  As J and I laid on the couch watching our White Sox get hammered by the Yankees, we started discussing dinner.  J had eaten so well three days I was gone.  She and her mom hit all her favorite spots.  The Strutt, The Union, Food Dance, Rose’s on Reed’s Lake, and Full City Cafe.  I, on the other hand, had McDonald’s twice then two burger joints.  I had a lot of ground beef, so we decided no hamburgers.

Once again, we were both thinking pizza.  I wanted to try something new instead of just calling Cottage Inn again.  I found some really good reviews for Chicago Style Pizza on Portage Road near Austin Lake in Portage.  I called in an order for a medium thin crust cheese and a small stuffed pepperoni.

Being from Chicago, the phrase “Chicago Style Pizza” means more than just a deep dish pizza.  While most people outside of Chicago think all deep dish pizzas are Chicago Style, they’re missing out on a couple important factors.  The two big criteria for being Chicago style are the use of a cold sauce and a high fat crust.  Just being a deep dish or stuffed pizza does not make a true Chicago Style pizza although it is a good start. 

The pizzas took about 35 minutes.  I’m not really sure if they offer delivery or not, but I headed out to a part of Portage that doesn’t even seem like it should still be part of the city.  The building is an old, beat up drive in with a gravel parking lot in need of some kind of maintenance.  The inside is 95% kitchen.  There’s a tattered screen door that leads to a small pick up area.  There are also a few tables just outside the door.  Not sure if those are leftover from the drive in days or if people actually do sit out there and eat.

My two pizzas were just over fifteen bucks.  I paid cash, grabbed the two paper wrapped pizzas and headed to the car.  As I threw the pizzas on my front seat, I had high hopes.  The pizzas smelled like Chicago pizzas and they were wrapped like Chicago pizzas.  You don’t see a lot of pizza boxes in the city.  Most pizzas are wrapped in foil then wrapped in paper and stapled shut.  That’s exactly how these pizzas were sent home.

When we got home and tore in to the pizzas, J and I had totally different views on the appearance of the pizza.  The thin crust had obviously been sitting for a while which is a shame.  The foil was not separated from the top of the pizza and it held the grease that had separated from the cheese on top pizza.  She wasn’t really wild about the appearance, but soldiered on hoping it would taste good.

The thin crust pizza had a crust that had a lot of promise.  It was super-thin and actually a pretty good copy of a Chicago South Side cracker thin crust.  While it had the looks, it lacked the texture.  The dough was very chewy and very doughy.  It needed to be cooked much, much longer to get a hard, crisp crust.  This was a big turn off to J as she likes her to have a good crunch.

As for taste, it was hard to judge.  I took a bite and liked the somewhat sweet sauce, but it was cold.  It was like they put the thin crust and the stuffed pizza in at the same time.  The thin crust is going to cook much faster and it had to sit around and wait for the stuffed to be done.  J said it tasted like a pizza by the slice place.  It almost had the taste of pizza that had been sitting under a heat lamp for a while.  It was completely cold, but it wasn’t fresh out of the oven either.  If the crust had been crispy, I think it would have been a good pizza, but the pizza as we got it, was only average.  I thought it was just ok.  J wasn’t wild about it at all.

The stuffed pizza is a Chicago staple although it’s not the only Chicago Style pizza.  Giordanno’s made the pizza famous, but Malnati’s and Geno’s also claim to be the true Chicago style even though their pizza is just a deep dish.  I go back and forth on which one I prefer.  At times, I prefer Giordanno’s.  At other times, I crave Malnati’s.  The pizza from Chicago Style Pizza was in the style of Giordanno’s.  The stuffed pizza works almost upside down.  The topping goes on first, followed by the cheese, then another, thin layer of crust that is topped off with the sauce.  The pizza from Chicago Style did almost everything right.  There was a thick layer of cheese and the sauce was a little chunky and may have even been a cold sauce.  However, like the thin crust, the crust on the stuffed pizza was very doughy and very chewy.  Chicago Style pizzas have a high fat crust that comes out very flaky.  This pizza did not have that.  Like the thin crust, this pizza could have cooked about ten minutes longer to get a really good crunch on both the bottom and the handle.  The rest of the pizza had a good flavor, but the lack of any crunch in the crust brought the pizza down a little bit.

I have mixed feelings on Chicago Style Pizza.  They’re so close to having a great product, but the soft crusts really hurt our opinions of the place.  J said no to going back and based on what we got, I would have to agree with her.  I wouldn’t suggest not trying it if you never had.  You have to realize J and I have high standards when it comes to pizza.   We know what we like and the crust is a big part of why we like or don’t like a pizza.  Our tastes aren’t reflective of most people, so if you’ve never had Chicago Style Pizza, give it a shot.  It’s like no other pizza in town.

Medium Thin Crust Cheese Pizza

Medium Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza

Chicago Style Pizza on Urbanspoon

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 1:33 pm

    Tried it for lunch today- it was even worse cold 😦

  2. May 4, 2010 1:06 am

    This is a bit disappointing. I was getting pretty excited to make this trek as I’ve really been looking for a good local Chicago-style pizza place. Maybe this was just a bad night. The closest I’ve seen here seemed to be from Grotto at Cabins, but it’s still nothing compared with what’s in Chicago.

    • SW Michigan Dining permalink*
      May 4, 2010 1:15 am

      I wouldn’t totally discount it based on my experience alone. Like I mentioned, I read a lot of good reviews so there are obviously quite a few people who like the place and would recommend making the drive.

  3. May 4, 2010 1:23 am

    Perhaps I’ll specify a crispy crust and see what I get.

  4. July 29, 2011 7:23 pm

    You guys are obviously crazy I loved the pizza! You should go back and try it again!

  5. Jack permalink
    October 28, 2012 12:38 pm

    Never heard of anyone complain about their pizza. And those pix dont do this pizza justice. Also if you want the best pizza, get a thin crust peperoni and banana pepper. Best in town by far.

  6. dennis kloosterman permalink
    July 24, 2013 6:58 pm

    By far, their most popular and best pizza is the deep dish. It is the best pizza in the county, bar none!

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