Chicago: Phil's Pizza in Bridgeport Fails to Live Up to the Hype

Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. The Mgmt.

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[Photographs: Daniel Zemans]

Phil's Pizza

1102 West 35th Street, Chicago, IL 60609 (map); 773-523-0947
Pizza Style: Thin
The Skinny: Popular Bridgeport institution comes up short
Price: 14" thin crust with two toppings is $14.10

There's no doubting the popularity of Phil's Pizza in Bridgeport. The Near South Side institution has been satisfying pizza cravings throughout the neighborhood since 1960 and repeatedly gets glowing reviews from diners. On my recent visit, the restaurant was packed and there was an endless stream of carry-out and delivery orders keeping the kitchen busy. Given all that, you can imagine my surprise when I bit into a decidedly mediocre pizza.

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The sausage and garlic pizza was absolutely loaded with large hunks of extremely juicy house-made sausage and topped with a thick layer of commercial mozzarella. The sausage was good, but given the high standard set by numerous old school thin crust joints throughout the area, it wasn't a standout. More importantly, the sausage was not good enough to salvage the rest of the pizza.

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The crust, which rarely provides much flavor on this type of pizza, fell short in the texture department. The relatively thick crust held up to the toppings, but provided almost no crunch. The sauce was thick and a bit on the pasty side, but was a serviceable processed tomato sauce that added some tang to the pizza.

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The sliced beef and giardiniera pizza was a bit of a mixed bag. The tender thinly-sliced beef was the best topping of the evening and was complemented well by the spicy and crunchy giardiniera. Unfortunately, the crust was even softer on this pie than on the sausage pizza, so much so that it inspired a conversation at the table about eating just the cheese and toppings. As regular readers know, I have no problem singing the praises of a pizza even when the crust is mediocre (see, e.g. the review of Manzo's), but at Phil's Pizza it was too much of a distraction to overcome.

That said, even if the crust were crisp, I had nothing at Phil's that justifies the raves. The sauce and toppings were serviceable but offered nothing out of the ordinary. With baseball season around the corner and Sox Park just a mile away, I'm sure I'll be in the neighborhood soon. Are there any Phil's partisans out there who want to make a case that I should give it another try?