A recent trek across the United States brought me to the home of our country's two most famous and notable pizza styles: Chicago's deep dish and New York City's large thin crust. I've had both before. I've enjoyed them in their hometown confines. Eating these pizzas in their respective cities did not present a new experience for me in and of itself. However, I had never been blessed with the chance to have each of them just a few days apart. So when I had a few hours to kill in Chicago before catching a flight to New York, the only logical thought that crossed my mind was to jump on the "L" and grab some pie. Brent and I took a train into the loop where we found a touristy and downtown business friendly joint called Pizano's. Eating quickly commenced.
Pizano's actually has several locations around Chicago. The spot in the loop is not the original, but since I needed to hop right back on a train to Midway, it just made sense. The famous deep dish pizza has a buttery crust and layers of flavor. Packed with mozzarella and marinara, the pizzas can fill you up quickly as each "slice" contains enough food to sustain a drunk Cubs fan through the misery of another loss. Brent and I split a 'Hey Hey' Jack Brickhouse Special which featured Italian sausage and mushrooms. Every bite tasted like a little bit of heaven. Okay, maybe that's a little strong. This pizza did not top my list of best deep dishes I've had in Chicago. But I'm still a sucker for it. It is hard to go wrong with the combination of flavors presented in this deep dish. The wedges of pie are most easily consumed with a fork, which is perhaps its one downfall in the eyes of New York City pizza purists.
A different world over in the heart of the Bronx lies Arthur Avenue. The traditional Italian neighborhood seems nostalgically out of place in the middle of the northern NYC borough. That only gave it extra charm. My friend Molly and I got a slice at the Full Moon Pizza on the corner of 187th and Arthur Ave. Full moon serves up a multitude of large pies by the slice. The thinly stretched and tossed dough is dusted with cornmeal to give it that authentically classic taste and texture. The pies are topped with an assortment of combinations including the classics of cheese only, pepperoni, buffalo chicken, and more. I went with a slice that had appropriate portions of peppers, mushrooms, and pepperoni. Any more toppings than that and you're weighing down the pizza and sacrificing the integrity of the thin crust. Many opt to fold their slice in half and eat it as a sandwich. I took mine one bite at a time and finished each swallow with a smile.
So in the end, which pizza reigns supreme? I haven't done many, but every now and then I make a special comparative post on Bite and Booze called "bite club." In this battle of Chicago vs New York, I give the edge to Chicago. The deep dish is a historic, cultural, and unique cuisine. It is based off of the Italian pizzas, but transformed into something totally different. The way the crust balances the ingredients is like having a lasagna with a buttery, crispy pizza crust instead of limp noodles. While I do appreciate a large slice of New York pizza, I don't feel like I'm often blown away by them. Perhaps the one exception to that was Lombardi's, but even then, the Bite Club crown goes to Chicago!
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