The pursuit of the perfect pizza: Chi Town vs. The Big Apple

In America, there seems to be some random celebration of something every month. This month is no exception. October has been deemed National Seafood Month, National Cookie Month and National Pizza Month, among other things.

For me, the latter is quite prevalent. In addition to working for the Oracle, I have worked for a nationally known pizza chain for the past five years, yet I did not know until recently this month was designated to celebrate pizza.

To commemorate the monthlong celebration, a quest to find locations that offer quality, affordable and original pizza close to campus was definitely in order. Two qualifications were followed when looking for the pizza: The restaurant could not be too far from campus, and it could not be a large chain restaurant. However, locating these places – and eating pizza for the better part of last week – proved to be easier in concept than actuality.

This search has been done for you, so sit back, fold up a slice and enjoy the fruits of this labor.

Brother’s NY Style Pizzeria was tried first in the pizza-tasting marathon. As evidenced by their name, they serve New York-style pizza; it consists of a bubbly crust of medium thickness, cut into larger slices so it can be folded in half while being eaten. We tried their white pizza – it has no marinara and is topped with ricotta and mozzarella cheese – with chicken, tomatoes and onions and a side of breadsticks with garlic and oil.

The pizza was good, but alfredo sauce would have added another taste dimension to the pizza and made it less dry. The breadsticks, however, were quite tasty, yet simple; just rolled up dough, baked and covered with oil and garlic. They tasted best when dipped in the excess oil at the bottom of the container – it’s funny how such a simple thing can make such a difference in taste.

Located on Fowler Avenue near 30th Street in the same plaza as Kash n’ Karry, the restaurant delivers to the campus. The staff is friendly and helpful and happily answered my questions on the phone – they even faxed over a menu.

The order taker needs to practice utmost hospitality when taking a customer’s order. People usually have many questions about size, toppings and possible variations in crusts, so having a lot of patience is necessary. Also, people are more than likely to be receptive to someone who answers their questions with a smile – and may order more food as a result.Their food was not cheap, but there was a definite value for what we got. For the pizza – a 16-inch medium – the breadsticks, a salad and a $5 tip for the driver (always tip your drivers), the total came to $33.33. Though this total may sound astronomical to some, by getting your friends to “throw down” – that is, contribute money – pizza night quickly becomes quite a deal.

Food (taste and overall appearance): B; Value: B; Hospitality: A

The next night was a venture to try pizza inspired by Chicago, the other city well known for its pizza. With its Chicago-themed menu that classifies the specialties into categories named after the city’s sports teams, Windy City Pizza will surely evoke a sense of nostalgia to those who love the city.

The staff here was also helpful and knowledgeable when taking my order over the phone, faxing over a menu and showing the pizzas to me when I picked them up. This is important, as showing the pizzas to the customer can help to avoid giving out the wrong pizza and to ensure the customer is satisfied with the appearance of their pizza.

We chose the “Skyline” on a large thin crust, which is loaded with sausage, pepperoni, red peppers, red onions, mushrooms and Jake’s garlic sauce. We also tried the “Yuppie Chow” on the large deep-dish crust, which is topped with chicken breast, sun-dried tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, red onions and Windy City Classic Sauce, which is similar to a traditional marinara sauce.

Though the two pizzas came from the same restaurant, they were vastly different. The thin-crust Skyline was cut into squares, as traditional Chicago thin-crust pizzas tend to be, and the deep-dish Yuppie Chow had the sauce under the cheese instead of on top, which is the traditional Chicago style.

The Skyline was good, though the crust got a bit soggy due to the garlic sauce and thin crust. All the spicy meats may bring heartburn to those prone to it, but that is a small price to pay for the pizza’s tastiness. The Yuppie Chow was sweet, probably due to the mixture of veggies on the pizza, enhancing the taste of the pizza by adding an unexpected element. Yuppie Chow was good, but the Skyline wins in this matchup.

The value at Windy City was about the same as that of Brother’s. The total for the two large pizzas came to $32.55, but it will feed a number of people if the cost is split.

Windy City Pizza does not deliver to campus, since they are near the intersection of Dale Mabry Highway and Fletcher Avenue. It was a bit of a drive from campus but was well worth the trip.

Food (taste and overall appearance): A-; Value:A-; Hospitality: A