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[Photograph: Josh Conley]

Even though Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. calls this the Italian Combination ($13.25), it was hard not to feel like a big, fat, proud American when it arrived. It was so big, and so Hoth-ly cold outside, that I didn't know if I should eat it or have Han Solo stuff me inside of it like my own private tauntaun. I mean, it came with a green pepper that was just lying there in a heap on the side, like it just got in this monster's way.

Smoked ham and Genoa salami are thickly-cut; not those translucent meat doilies you get on most sandwiches. Beefsteak tomatoes are nestled between the meats and gobs of Swiss cheese. The pickled red peppers and anchovies are, by contrast, tough to locate. It's all stacked up on Romano-dusted bread and thrown in the oven.

But is it any good? Yes, but with caveats. Despite the baking, the bread (while good) was soft, not toasty. In fact the whole thing was soft; some crunchy onions would have been welcome. But the cheese, aside from not being fully melted, was just too sharp and took the focus off the meat. Still, if you need to pack your lunch for the next three days, this beast will satisfy.

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.

2121 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614 (map)
773-248-2570
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.

Josh Conley spent one Christmas on Easter Island out of sheer irony. When he's not eating and drinking, he can usually be found belittling his kids HERE.

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