Chicago: Disappointment at Pete's Pizzeria #2
Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. —The Mgmt.
Pete's Pizzeria #2
5847 W. Montrose Avenue, Chicago, IL 60634 (map); 773-282-5434; petespizza2.com
Pizza Style: Chicago thin crust
The Skinny: The cheese is fine but every other element falls short
Price: 14" thin crust with sausage is $14.05
Notes: Pan and stuffed pizza also available
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but a good cover may get you to open a book. If I see an old school pizzeria with a big neon sign, worn pleather seats, and pictures of restaurant-sponsored Little League teams, I'm going to dive in with high hopes. Pete's Pizzeria #2 has all the signs of a classically delicious pizza joint, but unfortunately the pizza comes up woefully short.
The original Pete's Pizza has been a fixture on Western Avenue since 1955, when it surely hosted loads of kids after fun-filled days across the street at Riverview Park (RIP). In 1976, Sal Canale (nephew of Pete) opened up Pete's Pizzeria #2 in Portage Park. A few years ago, the Canales sold the original Pete's to the owners of Suparossa (Slice review), leaving #2 alone to carry on the 56-year-long family pizza tradition.
The substantial helping of cheese appeared to be commercial aged mozzarella and was the best part of the pizza. The thick sauce was on the sweet side, but not overwhelmingly so. What I found particularly off-putting was the popcorn butter-like taste that dominated the whole thing. The crust lacked crispness and didn't have enough flavor to counter the mysterious butter.
The sausage was a bit rubbery and remarkably bland. This surprised me; virtually every pizzeria in Chicago that's been around as long as Pete's does a great job with sausage even when everything else falls short. But without good sausage to redeem it, this pie was beyond hope. I loved the look of the place, and I was ravenous. But the pizza was bad fresh out of the oven and still bad when I had more half an hour later.
If Pete's II is really using the recipe from the original Pete's, there are plenty of Pete's loyalists out there to disagree with my assessment. Pete's fans: pipe up! What do you like about these pizzas?