Deep Dish Pizza with a Twist in Chicago

Deep Dish Pizza with a Twist in Chicago

The Quest

For my birthday this year, I decided to go to Chicago and I can’t wait to tell you about everything that we saw and did there!  It may seem odd to start off by telling you about one of the meals we had there.  But here I am, two weeks after eating it and it’s still something I think about longingly at mealtime.

Naturally, before heading to the Windy City, I did my usual pre-travel research on Pinterest to find out what we wanted to see.  I also searched for restaurant recommendations, because as I learned in Staithes, UK,  life’s too short to eat mediocre food when you’re on vacation.

One pin about great places to eat in Chicago caught my eye and when I clicked on it, just about everything in that article looked crazy delicious.  It was the Pizza Pot Pie at the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company (hereafter referred to as CPOG) that really caught my eye, because So. Much. Cheese.  I love cheese the way Paula Deen used to love butter.

Our first afternoon there we finished up sightseeing around 2:00 pm and took an Uber to CPOG. Because we had been so busy seeing the sights, we had not yet eaten lunch and we were quite hungry.  Sadly, we discovered that the restaurant would not open until 4 pm.  So we stopped at the Starbucks on the corner to enjoy a cold, creamy Frappucino. While we were there, we figured out how to adapt our plans without missing out on the Pizza Pot Pie.

The Lincoln Park Zoo was within walking distance, so we decided to head over there and kill an hour or so before returning when the restaurant was open. The zoo was in my top five places to see because they have polar bears, but given the very limited time we had in Chicago, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get there.  So, having to kill time before dinner there turned out to be a great solution. (I’ll write about our zoo visit soon!)

The Restaurant

We returned to CPOG at nearly 4:30, and to our delight a free table was available for us.  I think that was because it was still very early for most people to be eating dinner.  For us tourists who skipped lunch and are a time zone ahead of Chicagoans, however, it was well past time to eat.

pizza pot pie in chicago
Illustration on the CPOG menu

The restaurant’s interior was dark and rustic with wood paneling. Even though it’s at street level, it feels more like it’s in a basement.  The tables have fold down sides that can turn a rectangular table for four into a round table for six.  The flexibility of the seating surprised me – very clever and accommodating.

While we waited for our food, I read the back of the menu, which told us the history of the restaurant.  It was almost directly across the street from the site of the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.  During the late 1920s, gang warfare was a reality in Chicago. Irish gangsters ruled the north side of Chicago (where this restaurant was located) and Italian gansters, led by Al Capone, ruled the south side. Typically, gang activities consisted of the illegal trades of bootlegging, gambling and prostitution. Capone wanted no rivals – he wanted to rule the city. The Chicago gang violence reached its climax in a garage on North Clark Street on February 14, 1929. Seven men associated with the Irish gangster George “Bugs” Moran, Capone’s longtime enemy, were gunned down by men dressed as policemen. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was never officially linked to Capone, but he was generally considered to have been responsible for the murders.

History lesson over.  Now back to the deliciousness…

The Food

The menu at CPOG is not extensive. There are salads and appetizers, but as far as entrees go, you have a choice of the pizza pot pie, an oven grinder (sort of a toasted sub sandwich). or a dinner salad, which is big enough to feed two to four people.  The menu had this to say about the Pizza Pot Pie:  “The Pizza Pot Pie is an individual serving, made from scratch with triple-raised Sicilian bread-type dough; a homemade sauce consisting of olive oil, fresh garlic, onions, green peppers, whole plum tomatoes and a special blend of cheeses; sausage made from prime Boston butts; and doorknob-size, whole, fresh mushrooms.”

The pot pie only comes in two sizes – half-pound or pound. By this time, we were nearly starving, but practiced restraint and only ordered a half-pound each. When they brought out the Pizza Pot Pies, they looked a little bit like short-stemmed mushrooms, with round bulbous tops hiding a smaller base.

Pizza Pot Pie in Chicago
Fresh out of the oven.

But then the magic happens. The server flipped it upside down and loosened the food from the dish.  And behold:

pizza pot pie in chicago

The cheese… do you see all that cheese?  It was so hot and gooey and wonderful.  And that’s not just a thin layer of cheese, either…

pizza pot pie in chicago

Some of the tastiest, most perfectly seasoned meat sauce I’ve ever eaten lurked beneath the cheese.

pizza pot pie chicago meat sauce
(We asked for no mushrooms in ours.)

Needless to say, we cleaned our plates.  We left the restaurant very full and feeling satisfied.  It was the best meal I had while we were in Chicago.  Yes, we did try traditional deep dish pizza in Chicago as well, and it was good. But the pizza pot pie at CPOG still remains my favorite!

When we left the restaurant around 6:00, a line had started to form outside.  If you visit CPOG, try to arrive early! But even if you don’t, it’s worth the wait!

pizza pot pie chicago

The Pizza Pot Pie at Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company is seriously delicious! Definitely a must-have meal when visiting Chicago.

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