For our last review in Chicago we found ourselves outside of Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co, after hearing all about their pot pie pizza.
Now, I can already hear you asking ‘What is a pot pie pizza?’ But don’t worry, I’ll get to that soon.
As we stepped out of our Uber the driver told us that he and his wife frequent Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder, and that it’s a truly fantastic experience, and a meal that we will remember for a long time; I was beyond excited. You can guarantee that if the locals are raving about a restaurant then that’s definitely the place you should be.
Located at 2121 on North Clark street this restaurant is definitely not short for business; the whole place was packed, each table housed patrons, and we where told it would be a 30 minute wait.
From the outside it was very quaint and almost English looking with its front; you wouldn’t know from looking at it but the inside was rather large with ample room for hungry guests. I also loved the fact that the bustling restaurant was underneath what seemed to be condos or apartments (check out the history picture later in the article to learn some wild things about said apartments) – I bet the smell is absolutely amazing for those lucky real estate holders.
With our 30 minutes ahead of us we decided to get a drink at the bar, and wait it out in true Conley style.
The bar was beautiful with dark wood that matched the rest of the restaurant. You could get any drink your heart desired, and the bartender literally never stopped; at times he was making two drinks at once, and the cocktail shaker was never far away. The ceilings had gorgeous beams that gave it an old feel along with the wood interior, and it almost felt homely and welcoming – even if it was overflowing with people. I also want to say that my favorite part of the whole bar was definitely the wine glass holders that ran along the roof, for easy access.
With a beer in hand my husband and I acknowledge that our decision had been a good one. A place with this many people enjoying the food, and the smells from the kitchen of fresh dough being cooked was almost enough to drive a hungry patron insane; I found myself drinking my beer faster as I got hungrier and had to remind myself to slow down.
Before the 30 minutes was up our waiter came to tell us that a booth was available and we where ready to be seated; I almost knocked the stool over in excitement as I hopped up to follow him eagerly to our spot for the evening.
The dining area was cute with its little alcoves lining the side, and larger tables in the middle. There was not a lot of space for maneuvering around the restaurant due to the sheer volume of seating, but I was once again surprised that every seat we passed was full.
Eventually we got to our table and sat down with the menus in front of us.
I would be lying to you if I said it was the first time I had ever laid eyes on the menu, because we all know I’ve looked at the menu multiple times online throughout the day before our trip and I have absolutely zero shame.
The pot pie was the only one for me – a clear winner amongst the masses – and if you don’t know what a pot pie is then you’re in for a treat.
The idea of the pot pie was thought up by the owner in his Chicago law office and oh boy are we glad he did. The pot pie ingredients go into a bowl, butter lining and cheese first – filling second, and then the fresh dough is spread evenly across the bowl and moulded to the sides for cooking.
The pizza will cook face up in the oven standing in the bowl before being flipped over for serving, where the dough will create a bowl in itself and leave you with a fantastic pizza bowl that is called a pot pie.
Our waiter came over quickly and took our orders; I ordered the half pound sausage and mushroom pot pie, and my husband ordered a half pound cheese pot pie.
It took a while to receive the food but considering each pie is being made fresh and the vast amount of customers ordering them, it really wasn’t that long in the grand scheme of things.
I was sad that I didn’t get a picture of the pies with their bowls before the flip, since I was recording an Instagram live video, but you can tell just from the ‘after’ picture how this heavenly dough bowl is made.
I loved the whole interaction and excitement of the pot pies. A waiter came to our table with protective gloves on, and flipped each one individually, all while telling us that he too is in love with these half pound beauties, and to watch out for the molten lava inside before we dive on in.
They where unlike anything I had ever seen before. I stared at them in all their steaming glory, and inhaled deeply. The Italian seasoning, the cheese, and the dough where just so potent that I felt as though I’d gone to pizza heaven. (Trust me, if there was such a thing as smell-o-vision now would be the time to turn it on!)
Whilst we waited for the pies to cool down I slipped my fork into the side to get a taste of the sauce.
On the menu it stated that they made their homemade sauce with olive oil, fresh garlic, onions, green peppers, and whole plum tomatoes.
After blowing up a storm to cool the molten lava liquid down I can 100% assure you that it is the best tomato based pizza sauce I’ve ever had in my life.
The freshness was unreal. I believe the vegetables must have been of a high quality, and the tomatoes where so sweet and bold that it made the richness of the sauce perfect. I could definitely taste the garlic, and the added olive oil gave it a nice fluid mix to allow all of the ingredients to blend. If this was anything to go off, I was going to be in for a life changing pizza experience.
It was impossible to wait any longer before sinking my teeth into its doughy depths; I wanted more than anything to try the rest of the ingredients, and immediately began to blow the pot pie as though I was trying to put out a wild fire.
The time was now.
Immediately I cut into it; the dough was so soft and elastic – each slice of the knife crushed the sides towards the plate before the dough sprang back to its original form.
The menu stated that the pot pie had ‘doorknob’ sized mushrooms in it, and as you can see from the picture, they where not lying.
These button mushrooms where so fresh and chewy that I hunted the bowl for more to eat right away.
The first full bite of the pot pie had my eyes bulging out of their sockets. It was unreal, and definitely the best pizza I’ve had in America to date.
The sausage was made from ‘prime Boston Butts’ and tasted glorious with the rest of the ingredients; I noted an Italian seasoning blend right off the bat and ended up doing my happy butt dance right there at the table rocking from side to side. The Boston Butt comes from high above the shoulder blade on a hog and is known to be incredibly juicy and marbled, and from the taste of this sausage Chicago Oven and Pizza Grinder sourced a high quality Boston Butt that takes this pot pie to levels of pizza perfection that are unmatched. Bravo Chicago Oven and Pizza Grinder, you win the meat selection champ status.
The triple raised Sicilian bread dough was so soft with an outer crisp, you could tell by the sheer fluffiness and air like texture that this dough had been babied throughout its whole process whilst being made; it too was exceptional.
The layer of cheese was thickest in the middle, and by thick I literally mean almost an inch of cheese, and I noted the mozzarella right away, but there was also a sharper cheese added to the mix that I couldn’t quite unmask.
Each bite seemed to only get better, and the flavors never seemed to tire on my palette as the pot pie disappeared at an alarming rate before my very eyes.
I realized halfway through that I had yet to hear from my husband across the table, and as my eyes darted upwards I saw that he too was halfway through, nodding constantly and chewing fast.
I asked him with a giggle “what do you think?”
His eyes met mine, bulging, as he finished chewing with a nodding head.
“Epic! Amazing! I can’t get enough.”
I smiled a wide toothed grin and agreed eagerly with another happy dance, before returning my attention to the half pound of pure bliss in front of me, savoring every single piece and hoping that the end would never come.
Another fun thing I noticed was that the building had a great history to it, which was printed on the menu, and I feel as though my readers will be thankful to have a peek themselves.
Regardless of its past, I’m so glad that they rebuilt this beautiful establishment into the fantastic restaurant it is today.
My pizza life before pot pie pizza was almost a monotonous same old same old black and white, but with the discovery of this new style and the quality here at Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder, I too – like the restaurant – have been reborn.
Their menu also quotes “The Majestic flavor of life’s beauty … savored only by those who love to eat and drink” and I couldn’t agree more.
I’m savoring it right there with you Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder.
My only upset of the whole evening was realizing they make frozen to go pot pies, and knowing that I was flying to Boston I couldn’t possibly take, or cook, one before our time here was up.
I can’t wait for the future and a return trip that will bring us back for more pot pie.
Thank you Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder for changing my life for the better. I will never look at Pizza the same way again.
Until next time,
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