Oh my Crust! Pequod's! Three words: Chicago. Style. Pizza. This evokes a variety of reactions from people who, for whatever reason, claim some sort of expertise on the consumption and critiquing of pizza. There’s the classic debate, NYC v. Chicago, for many things other than pizza, but food seems to be on top of that list. I’ll come right out and say right now that I typically prefer New York style pizza, but as a foodie I find myself loving pizza in all forms, and I crave Chicago pizza strongly. It’s a very specific desire that only this style pizza can fulfill, and in my humble opinion only one establishment can truly satisfy. Pequod’s.
Yep, Pequod’s pizza. Strange name, even stranger meaning. Something to do with Moby Dick, the logo is a whale with a thong over it’s face? Try finding the metaphor or symbolism in that. Regarding pizza. No clue. As I’ve so eloquently stated before, I don’t care. And neither do you. I’m sure there’s some literature out there with the story, but I was too concerned smelling and tasting delicious pizza to care. The pizza is beyond excellent, and that’s all any of us really care to know.
Winning the genetic lottery as I did, I was born with Italian blood coursing through my otherwise American veins. I also lived in the blessed country for three years. This gave me the built in right to judge food on such a ridiculously high standard and therefore have pure disdain for anything mediocre and everything cliche. Sure, I’m cliche in many ways, but not with food. You’ll never hear me enthusiastically revisiting a delicious Pizza Hut pie I consumed, or McDonald’s hamburger, or Subway sandwich. Mom n Pop, individually run establishments are always %100 better than any chain. Of course this is a matter of “taste”, but I’ll just say I’m confident you as the reader can trust my taste because of the standards my family so lovingly instilled. I know pizza, trust me. And thanks to a local friend, we were lead in the right direction, straight to Pequod’s. Ask a local, always.
So I’ve had Uno’s, Lou Malnati’s, Gino’s and Giordano’s. All are well known pizza places here in Chicago with multiple locations and an underlying rivalry. Similar to Pat’s and Gino’s cheesesteak in Philly, all claim to have the #1 best pan pizza here in Chicago. To all I call bullshit. You’ll enjoy yourself, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a snob. In a real fatty moment I can slather garlic butter all over Papa John’s and force it down my gullet, but this is about quality, an experience, something you won’t forget. Having family in Philly, speaking for them I know there are better cheesesteaks than the famous Pat’s or Gino’s. And the same can be said for Chicago.
Pequod’s has two locations, on N Clybourn Ave, between Webster and Greenview, in the neighborhood DePaul, western Lincoln Park, so college kids are abound and certainly a large part of the clientele in this place. The other is in a suburb called Morton Grove, won’t be trekking out there any time soon. It’s essentially a sports bar. Plenty of flat screens to watch any Chicago team currently playing, a decent sized bar and surrounding booths on two levels. It’s always busy, but you won’t ever have to wait too long. Pan (deep dish) pizzas take a good 45 minutes to cook, so you have the option of placing your order while still waiting for a table and I highly recommend you do that. As soon as you smell the cheese and sauce combination and catch a glimpse of the beautiful masterpiece you will be ruthless in your pursuit. Grab one of Chicago’s many delicious local brews, something of a Goose Island variety perhaps.
I’m choosing to discuss the pan pizza, because I’ve visited Pequod’s 3-4 times now and I’ve never wanted anything else. It should be said; however, that they do offer thin crust. So order that if you must. I’ll be reviewing thin crust eateries soon. After 45 minutes of painful anticipation, a deep dish consiglieri will bring your pizza, place the pan on a thick, wooden cutting board, and cut through that crunchy thick crust himself and place it on your plate. I most often opt for mushrooms and fresh tomato on top of the cheese, but you can add any combination of fresh toppings, meat, veggie, or cheese. Dust the top with a little parmesan and you’re good to go.
What makes this pizza such a stand-out is the crust, as is often the case with any type of pizza. With deep dish it's essential. Pequod’s crust is buttery and carmelized and thick, but never soggy, never succumbing to the tall layers of cheese, sauce and whatever else you’ve chosen to challenge it with. You fork and knife this pizza, which may throw you off, but it’s worth it. It’s more than a pizza. It’s a visceral experience. The cheese is gooey and smooth, the sauce savory and not too sweet or overwhelming, and the extras are top quality, but they all pale in comparison to the crust. It’s so crunchy that it has syllables when you bite. C-c-c-crunch! Not simply, crunch! Like any impeccable pie, the crust is almost crumbly when you bite, but hugs and supports it’s ingredients valiantly.
When we have visitors here in Chicago, everyone wants a Chicago style dog and Chicago style pizza. And while most are ignorant enough to want Uno’s, my judgmental ass won’t let that happen. They’ll be visiting Pequod’s if I can help it, and they’ll slap me they’re so satisfied. I’m still a lover of all pizzas, thin crust usually winning out, and it should be stated here that this pizza is not the best left over. But stuffing yourself with a fresh, just out of the oven deep dish Pequod’s pizza will be nothing less than memorable. I hope you get the chance to eat here.
Bite. Chew. Crunch. Mmmm. Enjoy.