Pizza Serio is SERIOusly great pizza!!

pizza-serio

I was first introduced to Pizza Serio in the fall of 2010 by my friend Dale who kept insisting I try it. This brick oven pizza place just opened this past year and is located at 1708 W. Belmont Ave in Chicago. I’ve been there twice since it opened and I can now see why Dale suggested I try this pizza. I have added Pizza Serio to my top favorite pizza places to go to in Chicago. When I saw that Groupon had a deal for Pizza Serio a little while back I was super excited. So of course I snatched it up and this past Friday we went to cash it in.

Pizza Serio has a nice ambiance inside. It has lots of exposed brick which adds a lot of charm to the place and has several flat screens if you’re in the mood to watch a game. The staff has always been really friendly when I’ve been there as well. They even have a second level upstairs that can be rented out for special events.

We started off the night by ordering some Half Acre Daisy Cutter Ale’s. Oooh and I do have to mention that this place also sells my favorite beer, Bells Oberon. Unfortunately, Oberon is not in season right now so they did not have it available to order. Otherwise I would have ordered that of course. Anyways, we then attempted to order the garlic twists but they’re so popular they were out of them that night. The first time we went to Pizza Serio they were testing out the garlic twist recipe and asked us to try them to see what we thought. I’m glad to see they officially made it on their menu because I’m a huge garlic fan and they were amazing. So we skipped the appetizer and just decided to order one margarita pizza and one with spicy sopressata salami. The first night I went to Pizza Serio I tried the spicy salami as one of the toppings and I can honestly say I don’t think I will ever order anything else from there because I loved it so much. It had such amazing flavor. I’ve since then tried to find spicy salami at the grocery store so I can try adding this topping to my homemade pizzas as well, but I have had trouble finding it. Of course I haven’t tried looking anywhere besides Jewel so far so I guess I could be trying a “little” bit harder. I have to admit, it’s a topping that I haven’t seen very often at pizza places so this was a very exciting and delicious surprise to find it on their menu.

Spicy salami

The Margarita pizza had a lot of really fresh tasting basil on top. I would say the pizza tasted like your typical margarita pizza. Although, I expected it to come with sliced tomatoes on it, but it did not. But that’s ok. It was still delicious. The crust on these pizzas were nice and light and airy. The mozzarella was very fresh and flavorful. It really is the closest pizza in taste to NYC style pizza that I’ve had here in Chicago. So if you’re looking for some great thin crust, this is the place to try! I would have to give this pizza a 4+. And I will be going back again very soon. I highly recommend you try it, especially if you’re a fan of NYC style pizza. You won’t be disappointed!

Margarita pizza

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Bricks Chicago Pizza Review

So you’ve all heard of Groupon.com by now right? I blogged about it a few posts back. It’s a site where you can get discounts off of things like restaurants, massages, salons, etc. Well there’s another site that is very similar to that one called 3 o’clock club (3oclockclub.com) where you get a few deals per day emailed to you right around 3:00pm. Well I happened to have a gift certificate purchased from there to use on a meal at Bricks Chicago pizza. So Thursday night we decided to use it and see just what all the hype was about. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Bricks.

Bricks was founded in 1997 and is located at at 1909 N. Lincoln in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. They pride themselves on tasty beer, crispy thin crust pizza and great music. When we first walked up to the building, I didn’t think we were at the right place except that it clearly had the sign hanging above the door. But the entrance led to a dark basement that kind of smelled a little funky to be honest. But, once we got inside it looked just like your typical pizza pub.

Bricks OberonThe first thing I noticed that scored major points with me was that they served Oberon on tap! I have only seen like 1 or 2 other places in the city that serve it on tap. So I was instantly pleased. Then, I looked at the menu and I have to say, there were so many interesting choices for pizza toppings that all sounded so good. I was having a difficult time deciding what I wanted to order. We ended up getting the Red Planet pizza which included sweet red peppers, italian sausage, goat cheese, mozzarella, and red onion. We were a little unsure about the red onion so we decided to swap it out for something we KNEW we already loved… Bacon! Can’t go wrong there.

When the pizza came, I immediately noticed the delightful taste of the goat cheese. Goat cheese makes everything better in my opinion. So I was instantly happy. The crust had a nice crispiness to it and I liked the flavor of it. One thing I will say, is that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the type of sausage they used. I’m not saying I hated it 0r anything, I’m just saying that I’ve had better at many other pizza places before. Another thing I noticed was that I didn’t think there was enough sauce on this pizza at all. In fact, we commented on how we felt like we could barely taste any sauce on it at all. So I’m not even sure what it tasted like to be able to judge it.

Bricks Chicago Pizza

I have heard so many good things about Bricks. In fact, whenever I look up new pizza places to try, it always shows up near the top of many lists I find. I thought it was very good, don’t get me wrong. I will agree, they have some good tasting thin crust pizza and a lot of creative pizza toppings to choose from. Maybe my expectations were set too high on this one, but I didn’t think there was anything super special that really stood out with this pizza. I think it was very comparable to a lot of other thin crust pizzas I enjoy. For instance, D’Agostino’s or maybe a better version of Pizza Rustica. So I’d have to give this pizza place a 3 rating. I would definitely go back to try some other pizzas in the future. But for now, I have many many other places to try in the meantime!

Pizano’s Pizza – Pretty darn good!

First I’d like to start off giving a quick explanation on why I have been looking forward to trying this pizza for awhile now. The man who founded this pizzeria is Rudy Malnati Jr., son of Rudy Malnati Sr., who in 1943 established Pizzeria Uno in Chicago. And who helped co-manage this Pizzeria Uno with Rudy? None other than Rudy’s son Lou Malnati! Well, we all know that Lou Malnati’s is my favorite deep dish pizza of all time! So I was very excited to see how this pizza compared of course.

So off we went, to the Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta in the Loop in downtown Chicago on Thursday night to give it a try. The place was very busy, but we were able to pre-order our pizza while we waited to be seated. We decided to get a sausage and pepperoni deep dish pizza. We actually ordered a large so that we would have plenty of leftovers to take home and I just so happen to be enjoying a reheated slice of it right now as I write this! :)

When the pizza came it looked very similar to Lou’s at first glance. And actually, the whole time I was eating it, I couldn’t stop comparing it to Lou’s. Which I don’t know if that helped it or not since Lou’s is my all time favorite. It had some big shoes to fill in my mind. The crust is similar in that it is a buttery flakey crust. In my opion, Lou’s is definitely better but this was pretty good too. It had a nice solid crunch to it on the bottom and the sides had that crisp thin flakiness to it.

Pizano's PizzaPizano's Pizza slice

One thing I really liked about this pizza was the flavor of the cheese they used. It definitely stood out to me. I wish I could place what they were using. To me, it wasn’t just your typical mozzarella, but something else too. The saugsage was also one of my favorite parts about the pizza. It had a really good italian flavor to it and they used a good amount. It wasn’t a full layer of sausage that Lou’s is known for doing on their pizza’s, but it was still good none the less. I had no complaints about the tomato sauce on the pizza. It had nice chunks of tomatoes in it which is always yummy if you ask me. But, I will say, I wished there had been a little bit more sauce used on the pizza altogether.

Before we even had the idea to go to Pizano’s, we happened to see a Groupon gift certificate online for sale for the restaurant. For those of you that don’t know what Groupon.com is, it’s a website that offers daily deals at unbeatable prices. This could be discounts off of anything from restaurants to salons. They base the deals on the city location you are in. When I found a deal on Pizano’s Pizza downtown, we obiously jumped on that one right away. So at the end of our night, when we presented the $50 gift certificate to the waitor, his face dropped when he had to tell us that they no longer accept the Groupon certificates. We were very confused as to why, as the manager wouldn’t really give a reason. But, the good news is, when we emailed the website to see what the deal was, they told us to simply mail back the gift certificate and said we would get a credit on their website to use in the future on something else.

So, at least our money wasn’t wasted and we still had a great time in a good atmosphere enjoying our deep dish pizza. The pizza itself was very delicious and I was pretty impressed with it. So, I would have to rate this pizza as a 4 and definitely see myself getting this again in future. Pizano’s Pizza is no Lou Malnati’s but that family definitely has some amazing pizza making abilities running through their genes!!

Clarke’s Diner…Yes, they serve pizza.

For years now, my friends and I have gone to the Clarke’s diner on Clarke St. in Chicago late night to grab some food after a night out. It sort of just became our thing. There would be a point in the night where one of us would chime in, “Anyone feel like grabbing some food?” and next thing we knew we were in a cab on our way to Clarke’s. I will admit, I usually pushed people towards this option. Why? Because they serve pizza of course.

If I’m not mistaken, they have 5 different pizzas to choose from. A bbq pizza, a veggie one, a chicken pizza, etc. I always just get the four-maggio one. It comes with cheddar, parmesan, feta and mozzarella cheese on it. It’s always been very hard for me to order anything else on a menu when I know they serve pizza as well. So, time after time, while everyone else is usually ordering the Denver skillet or something breakfast related, I get the pizza. Every single time. But this really isn’t a shock to anyone, is it?

So, last Saturday night we were out celebrating one of my best friend’s birthdays and happened to be right down the street from Clarke’s. And of course we were hungry so we said, “What the hell.. Let’s do it.” (It had been a really long time now since we had been there).  I think I had finally made everyone sick of going there. I didn’t even open the menu. I was getting the Four-Maggio again. That much, I knew.

On to the review. I have to say, I think my tastes have changed over the years. Because back in the day I used to think this pizza was half-way decent. I won’t say it was the best or anything. But I obviously would get it time and time again. All my friends thought I was nuts and would always comment that it tasted like cardboard. But for diner pizza, it was pretty much what I expected and I seemed to enjoy it. I have to admit, I think the first time I had Clarke’s pizza was the first time I ever had feta cheese on one of my pizzas. And I really liked it. So that part gets an “A” for effort from me.

But, this last time we went, I think I finally started to realize why so many of my friends claimed I was nuts for liking this pizza. The cheese seemed to be undercooked. It looked like it could have stayed in the oven for a few minutes longer. The crust tasted very bland to me. It didn’t taste like it had any seasoning in it, which it really could have used. I only at about half of the pizza (It’s an individual size, don’t worry). Usually I could eat almost all of it but one or two slices. And even when I used to have leftovers, I would still take them home with me. This time, I said no thank you. Reheating this pizza just did not sound appealing to me at all.

Maybe it’s because I have higher standards now when it comes to pizza (since I blog about it now). But Clarke’s pizza just didn’t do it for me anymore. I will sadly give this pizza a 2 rating. Clarke’s, we had a good run. But I’m on to bigger and better pizzas now. Maybe I’ll come back and visit you again some day and give you a second chance. So for now, let’s not say goodbye, let’s say…see you later?

Clarke's Diner Pizza

Pequod’s Pizzeria – 2nd best deep dish pizza in Chicago!

A couple Saturday nights ago I had a birthday party to go to in Lincoln Park. We wanted to get dinner somewhere located near the party. Then it hit me. Pequod’s!! I’ve been to Pequod’s several times now, but definitely thought it deserved a proper review since it’s one of my faves.

Pequod’s opened in the early 1970’s and was named after the whaling ship from Moby Dick. This neighborhood bar/restaurant is located on the corner of Clybourn and Webster, right across from a movie theater. So it’s a great place to stop for dinner and a movie any night of the week. I can honestly go ahead and say it. I think Pequod’s has the 2nd best deep dish pizza in the city (next to Lou Malnati’s of course). And yes, I will say that I think it is better than Giordano’s pizza. Keep reading to find out why!

We ordered a small, deep dish sausage and pepperoni pizza. We would normally get a medium, but since we were heading straight to a party after dinner, we didn’t really want to have to drag around leftovers with us all night. We also ended up ordering an appetizer of cheesy garlic bread with marinara sauce on the side for dipping since we weren’t positive the small sized pizza would do the trick. It really hit the spot.

As for the pizza, I really only have nothing but good things to say about it. The sausage had some really great italian seasoning to it and they were nice big pieces. The sauce was good. Not too thick, not too thin. And they put a perfect amount on the pizza as well. Now the crust, I will say, is really one of a kind. Pequod’s uses a cast iron skillet to cook their pizzas in which leaves the best crunchy and crispy crust around the edge. It gives the crust a caramelized flavor that is ridiculously good and certainly a known trademark of theirs. The cheese was so nice and gooey. Plenty of it too. The kind that just keeps on pulling and forms those nice long strings of ooey goodness when you pull it away from the tray.

Pequod's Pizza

We definitely didn’t need the appetizer before the pizza. The small was plenty of pizza to fill us both. I have ordered this pizza for delivery before too. It’s still very good. But there’s something to be said for a nice hot deep dish pizza coming straight out of the oven right to your table.

As far as deep dish pizza goes, I love that Pequod’s is not too doughy. It’s a nice thick size and you don’t just taste all bread. Which I feel like a lot of deep dish places are at fault for (ahem… Giordano’s). I feel like when I’m eating Giordano’s I always have a lot of leftover crust that I just don’t want. Not with Pequod’s! And Pequod’s really does a great job at putting just the right amount of ingredients on it’s pizzas. So every bite is just perfect.

I am actually debating right now on what to rate this pizza. I thought, if Lou’s is a 5 rating then should I make this a 4? But it seems so much better than a 4. Then I thought to myself, well how about a 4.5? But, who says that Lou’s has to be the only 5 rating right? I can have more than just one pizza as a 5 rating. BUT… that being said, I still think Lou’s is better than Pequod’s. It is, after all, my all time favorite pizza. But I think Pequod’s can share the 5 rating because I think it has a completely different taste to it. I mean, looking back at the definition of a 5 rating in my rating system it says, “This is hands down among one of my favorites.” And this is true. So yes, I will give this pizza a 5 rating. There! I’ve decided. Now go get some Pequod’s!! :)

Paisano’s Pizza in Virginia

Two weekends ago I was out of town yet again. This time I was visiting my brother and his family in Virginia. I promise I will start reviewing more pizzas in Chicago now since I’m finally going to be home for a few weekends. I mean I AM “Chicago” Pizza Girl after all. Anyways, it was a Friday night and of course when you have out of town guests and a lot going on, nobody really wants to cook right? So we opted for a nice quick and easy dinner and ordered Paisano’s Pizza.

Since my brother Bob and his wife Kim are vegetarians we decided to get some pizzas without meat. I know.. this is a change for me since I usually order meat toppings. But, I like most veggies on my pizza anyways, so it was fine by me. On one pizza, we ordered mushrooms and tomatoes and on the other pizza we got onion, green peppers and olives. I typically don’t like onion on my pizzas. But I said I would at least give it another shot (for the blog of course)!

Paisano's olive and pepper pizza

So there we were, the siblings all together again. My cousin Steve, who now lives in Virginia as well, came over to join us for dinner too. The pizza was your typical thin crust pie. It reminded me of something you might get from your average college town actually. I liked the crust. It was very light and airy. Great for dipping in ranch dressing. I have to say, I gave the onions a try on the one pizza and I am still not a big fan of them. But.. I didn’t hate it. I ate the whole slice. I enjoy onions in lots of things actually. I like red onions in salads, sometimes on sandwiches, grilled onions on bratwursts or hot dogs, in pasta, or soups, etc. But for whatever reason, I have never really been a fan of onions on my pizzas. Oh well, at least I gave it another shot. And while we’re on the topic of toppings I’m not a huge fan of, I must say I wasn’t a lover of the green peppers either. This is not one I usually order as a topping. If I had to switch it out with red peppers, I would be fine with that. I love red peppers. The mushroom and tomato pizza was very satisfying though. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the pizza. I could easily go back for more.

Paisano's mushroom and tomato pizza

I would probably give this pizza a rating of 3. Bob and Kim seem to be big fans of this pizza. But I’m thinking that maybe they have just been away from Chicago for too long now to remember what really good pizza tastes like. (I mean, it has been about 4 months now since they’ve moved)  :) Kidding Bob, love you! To be fair, it did hit the spot and I did enjoy it. In fact this is my second time eating it since we ordered it the last time I visited as well. And I would order it again in the future. Ordering pizza was just one of the many things that made this trip to Virginia a great one!

Oh, and on a side note, some of you will be happy to know that they do deliver beer. It says so right on the side of the box! Enjoy.

Miguel’s Pizza at The Red River Gorge in KY

A couple of weekends ago my friends and I did a girl’s weekend trip to the Red River Gorge in Slade, KY for some rock climbing, hiking, swimming, and all around childish fun! We rented a cabin this time as opposed to setting up a tent and camping as we usually do. If there’s one thing my climber friends know about the Red River Gorge (besides how great the climbing is of course) it’s Miguel’s Pizza. So there wasn’t even a question on where we’d grab dinner on Saturday night after a great day of climbing and swimming at the watering hole.

Miguel’s Pizza was founded in the mid-80s by Miguel Ventura. He created this small pizza joint now widely known amongst the climbing community that go to the Red. They not only serve pizza, but they also accommodate camping for all the climbers at a rate of only $2 a night.

Some might say that an exhausted climber would eat just about anything after a days worth of climbing and call it great. But the pizza at Miguel’s truly is exceptional. You place your order by simply filling out a piece of paper and checking off the toppings you’d like to have on it. They have everything from potatoes to chick peas to eggplant as far as toppings go. You name it, they probably have it!

So after our day of climbing we decided to grab some pizza. The order I got in on was fairly simple. Just a sausage and mushroom pizza. I have to say, when I usually order from Miguel’s for myself, I get maybe 3x’s as many toppings. But since I was sharing this pizza, I decided to go with the flow and get something that we all knew everyone would enjoy. I only make it to the Red about 2 times a year if I’m lucky and I always look forward to getting Miguel’s pizza. But when I took a bite of the pizza I just ordered.. it just wasn’t bringing back the memories I have had in the past. It was just kinda “eh” for me. I’ve had this pizza sooo many times before and already KNOW that it’s in my top 5 favorite pizzas of all time. So I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t that impressed with the pizza this time. I thought to myself, “I can’t give this pizza the proper rating it deserves. Not like this!”

Sausage and mushroom pizza at Miguel's

Well, the next day, two of our friends had to head back home a little earlier than my friend Erinn and I. So we decided, “What the heck! Why not grab lunch at Miguel’s before we go!” :) My eyes lit up with excitement once we came to this decision. Now, I could get another pizza and give this review a second chance since I wasn’t so thrilled with the pizza I had gotten the night before. This time, I loaded up on the toppings. I got feta cheese, mushroom, pepperoni, roasted garlic, bacon and kalamata olives. Let me tell you…it was out of this world! There was the smile I was waiting for.  :) It was everything I remembered and more. The roasted garlic really made the pizza. There were entire cloves roasted and thrown right on there. It was sooo delicious. Much more sweet than just raw garlic too. My friend Erinn and I have always said that they must put some sort of secret ingredient in their dough. Because it has such a unique taste. We each had ordered our own separate halves of the pizza so we’d have leftovers to take home. Yes, we drove the extra 2 slices each a good 7 hours home in our car. It’s just that good.

Miguel's Pizza 2

I felt much better leaving KY knowing I could give this pizza the good rating that it deserved. After all, it is one of my favorite pizzas to order. I give this pizza a 4 rating. Oh, and one last thing before I forget. Don’t forget to order the ginger ale if you’re ever out that way. It is called Ale 8 and is made local right there in KY for only $1.00 a bottle!