Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. —The Mgmt.
2010 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-394-6900; mypiepizza.com
Getting There: #73 Armitage bus or #50 Damen bus to Armitage and Damen
Pizza Style: Deep dish and thin crust
Oven Type: Gas
Price: Medium one-topping deep dish, $17.10; thin crust, $13.25
It has been eight months since I last reviewed a deep dish pizza in Chicago. I've eaten plenty of deep dish pies in that time, just not at a place I had not yet reviewed. Over the weekend, I found myself at a friend's place in Bucktown, two blocks from My Pie (formerly known as My ∏). Knowing from experience that My Pie offers a very good example of the genre, I was ready to do some additional research for Slice.
My Pie actually has a significant role in Chicago pizza history. After the first location opened in Rogers Park in 1971, the owner wasted little time in expanding and franchising. According to company lore, My Pie was the first Chicago deep dish pizzeria to open an outpost outside of Illinois. At its peak, the company had more than 20 locations spread across nine states, making it more widespread than any deep dish chain other than Uno. For reasons that are unclear, the ones outside of Illinois went the way of the dodo, and My Pie has been holding steady with two Chicago area locations for some time.
The deep dish pizza at My Pie is the rare example of a pie where the sauce stands out above everything else. Purportedly made from California-grown San Marzano tomatoes, the sauce is filled with large chunks of well-seasoned tomatoes. There are so many big pieces that it almost is like a hearty stew of delicious, lightly tangy tomatoes spread across the top of the pizza.
The crust at My Pie is fairly standard for a deep dish pizza, which is to say it's a very good simple bread that is very crisp and airy without being crumbly at all. Some deep dish pizzas have corn meal mixed into the crust, and, if I had to guess, I'd say this one has some, but I could have been unduly influenced by the nice golden color. One thing that did surprise me about the crust was the little bit of charring on parts of the cornicione. It did not affect the flavor at all, but it's an element I'm not used to seeing on a deep dish pizza.
For a deep dish pizza as thick as My Pie's, there is actually a fair amount of restraint used with the cheese. I could have used more of the Wisconsin mozzarella. I should note that My Pie is somewhat secretive about their cheese, and they advertise their pizzas as having a blend of up to four different cheeses. If there was something other than mozzarella on this pizza, I didn't notice. The sausage was the only disappointing component of the pie. There was enough of it and it had a nice amount of chewiness, but the flavor was weak, particularly on a thick sauce-heavy pie like this. There was no fennel at all in the sausage, which bothered me. I can deal with a sausage without fennel if there is another strong flavor in there (usually garlic), but this was not a well-seasoned sausage.
Other than the sausage, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the pizza. My Pie is a very good example of deep dish pizza and definitely worth checking out, particularly for the sauce. The Northbrook location is a full-service restaurant, but the Bucktown location is primarily there for pick-up and delivery. Both locations share space with My Pie's sister restaurant, Li'l Guys, a sandwich shop that I've never tried.
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