In a few weeks I'm going to Chicago, and in addition to catching up with friends and family, I am really really looking forward to having some deep dish pizza. I don't mean pizza that has an extra thick crust and uses crushed tomatoes instead of sauce. Many pizzas masquerade as Chicago-style deep dish by mimicking these two hallmark traits; ultimately, however, they fall short of the real thing.
I mean a pizza that you might actually mistake for a pie because its depth would allow you to bury your entire thumb inside à la Little Jack Horner. I don't know where exactly I will eat one, maybe two wedges of this pizza; I'll let the locals lead me. I do know when I finish I will be very happy and very full and just a bit sad. Because I will going back to Houston where deep dish pizza, at least the kind I'm after, is scarce.
Katharine Shilcutt, whose food criticism and sharp wit I very much admire, called deep dish pizza "the type of pizza that this Texan simply cannot get behind." Oh Katharine, I respectfully disagree. A LOT. But I don't blame your vote of no confidence on why Houston is lacking in Chicago-style deep dish options.
Don't tell me, please, to go to Star Pizza. You don't have to, actually, because I will go anyway because I actually like their "deep dish" pizza. Note, however, the quotes, please. This pizza just has a thicker than average crust and an extra handful of cheese.
I once got very excited when I learned Barry's Pizza & Italian Diner offered deep dish pizza. Upon closer examination, however, I learned that their "deep dish" is actually U.S. Sicilian style (as opposed to original Sicilian), which differs considerably from the Chicago version.
I guess I could drive to Fort Worth to visit Pizzeria Uno, though having tested this chain's pizzas in numerous other locations (Boston, New York, Pennsylvania, Chicago), I can say confidently that the quality varies significantly by region. The Uno deep dish you get in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a far cry from Chicago-style, but, not terribly surprisingly, the Uno deep dish in the Windy City is closer to the real thing.
Chi-town natives now living in Houston, have you found any restaurants here that successfully replicate Chicago-style deep dish? Maybe I'm missing something. Or, is there a secret club that meets to mourn the relative absence of those glorious mile-high wedges of dough and tomato and cheese? If yes, please, please invite me.
If not, I suggest starting an organization to promote the peerless quality of your hometown's pizza. Let's spread the Chicago-style deep dish gospel. Maybe some enterprising restaurateur will address this glaring gap in Houston's pizza offerings.
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