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!

CPG found out 2 weeks is too long to go without making a pizza

This weekend I decided to make another pizza, because well, why not? I had the time and I love pizza. Since I’m on my garlic kick right now (really, when am I not) I wanted to add garlic powder to the dough again. Well, I guess going 2 weeks without making a pizza was a little too long for me. Because I made some vital errors in my dough making this time. First I’ll give you the run down of what I put in the dough.

Dough Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups of flour to start
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. of sugar
1 can of Coors Light
1 Tbs. of yeast
and garlic powder (not exactly sure how much)..

Now I say I don’t exactly how much garlic powder I put in because I simply took the shaker and went to town. I’ve noticed in my pizza making experience that if you want to be able to taste a certain flavor in your dough, you kind of have to use a lot of that ingredient. So if I had to guess, I’d say I put in maybe 2-3 Tbs. of garlic powder. Then, I let the breadmaker do its thing. The whole time the dough was being prepared, the scent of garlic filled the whole condo. It was definitely going to be noticed in this one! :)

Now as I checked on the dough in the beginning, I could already tell that I needed to add more  flour. I could tell the flour to liquid ratio was just not right. I’ve made my own dough enough now where I could tell just by looking at the consistency of it that I needed to add more flour. So I went ahead and added probably another cup’s worth right then and there. When the beeping went off to tell me that the breadmaker was finished and my dough was ready I opened the lid and said “Oh no.. ” I could immediately tell that the dough was too sticky. Apparently I needed to add a LOT more flour than I had thought.

Have no fear, I just got out the flour again and went to work on working more in to the ball of dough I had. And soon enough, the dough was much less sticky and ready to roll out on to the pizza pan. I did have to cut the dough in half now though since I added so much more flour, there was just too much of it and I wanted more of a thin crust for this pizza. Good save Linds!! Gave myself a pat on the back for rescuing the pizza dough, because otherwise I would have been very sad. Lindsay without her pizza is not a pretty sight.

Now on to the pizza toppings. I loaded up the base with sauce. Just my usual Ragu pizza sauce this time. (One of these days I will get around to making my own sauce. I promise.) Then I added pepperoni, left over italian sausage from dinner a few nights before, and mushrooms. I shredded mozzarella (seriously, I can never remember how to spell that one and spellcheck always yells at me) and cheddar to top it off. In the oven my garlic-y pizza went at 385 degrees for 19 minutes.

homemade garlic crust

When the pizza came out, it was perfectly cooked. Lightly browned, melted cheese and a slightly crispy crust on the bottom. The first thing I noticed when I took a bite in to this pizza was the consistency of the dough. It definitely had a different texture to it than my dough usually has. Almost like it was more spongey and it wasn’t as light and airy. I am not sure if it was the amount of garlic powder I put in to the dough that changed the consistency or it was the flour I was adding to the dough after the dough was already made. But, I will say that the pizza still tasted quite good. It was just a different kind of crust. So I was happy with the end result. You could certainly taste the hint of garlic in the dough. And the italian sausage was really flavorful. I guess there is something to be said for being more careful about measuring  though :)

garlic powder crust

Nothing like homegrown vegetables on your pizza!

Homemade pizza tonight! Ok, so my decision process on making pizza tonight went something like this. I didn’t want pasta because I had pasta for dinner last night. I had grilled burgers and brats over the weekend so I didn’t feel like grilling. I figured I’d make a nice big salad one day this week but that would require going to the store to buy all the stuff to go in it and I just didn’t feel like making the trip. I wanted something that didn’t require a lot of effort or time either. I started to get the inkling for a pizza (naturally) but knew that by the time I got home, making the dough from scratch would put me at actually eating dinner around 9:00pm tonight. And I was already hungry (this was around 5:00pm that this thought process took place). So, I thought, you know…Whole Foods has really good fresh homemade dough and that would cut down the prep time by a lot. And viola, there you have it! We were making pizza tonight.

Since there was no dough making in this process, I’ll go right in to which toppings were used tonight:

  • Ragu Pizza Sauce
  • Fresh Mozzarella from Whole Foods
  • Chunks of cut up homegrown tomatoes from my parent’s vegetable garden
  • Sliced kalamata olives
  • Pepperoni
  • Sauteed homegrown zucchini from my parent’s vegetable garden
  • Basil…you got it, homegrown from my parent’s vegetable garden

Can you tell I’ve just recently been to my parent’s house? Any time I go there during the summer I get sent home with a bag full of fresh vegetables. I love it! This time I actually picked my own basil leaves too. Anyways, the pizza came out really tasty. I loved the fresh basil the best. The flavor really stood out and it smelled delicious. The kalamata olives really had a great strong flavor as well. Of course I love kalamata olives so I didn’t mind the strong taste. I can eat those things like candy. In fact, I often just sit there and eat them out of the jar as a snack when I’m deciding what to eat. I didn’t really notice the zucchini that much. We cut up round slices and sauteed them in a pan before we put them on the pizza. I wonder if I added more the next time if they would be more noticeable. Or maybe I’ll try doing shredded zucchini. We’ll see.

Whole fresh pizza

I actually felt like this pizza could have had a little more crunch to it. I cooked it for it’s usual time of around 18 minutes at 385 degrees. Maybe it had to do with the type of dough it was, but I actually put the whole pizza (what was left of it) back in to the oven for another 3 minutes after I ate the first slice. It gave it a little more crunch to the bottom. So then I was happy. All in all the pizza was very good. If you’re going to put vegetables on your pizza, you really can’t go wrong with homegrown. It just tastes so unbelievably fresh! Thanks Mom & Dad! I’ll certainly be back for more veggies sometime soon.

Close up fresh veggies

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!!

Garlic, garlic, and more garlic!!

On the menu tonight.. pizza! I don’t know what it is about Sundays, but I always seem to want to make pizza on Sunday nights. So we got out the good ole bread maker and started on the dough. The crust on this one was exceptionally good this time. Here’s what was we put in the crust so you can see why.

12 oz. can of Bud Light
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups flour
2 tbsp. yeast
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy  seasoning

The whole time the bread maker was doing it’s thing, it smelled sooooo good. You could really smell the garlic. I was really looking forward to this one. So once the dough was ready it was time for the toppings. We included: pepperoni, ham, bacon, olives, mushrooms and minced garlic. The cheese we used was mozzarella and a mix of cheddar and monterey jack. The oven was preheated and the pizza was ready to go in. Eric said, “Pick a number between 1 and 60.” I picked 40. So the timer was set for 18:40. Haha. Must have been a perfect number because the pizza came out just right. With the cheese slightly browned just the way I like it.

Garlic crust

The pizza turned out just as I suspected. Delicious! You could really taste the garlic in the crust. And let me tell you, I am a huge fan of garlic. If I had cloves of garlic on hand I would have roasted them and threw those right on there too. Next time! I could also taste that it had a bit of a kick to it from the Mrs. Dash extra spicy seasoning and the pepper we added to the crust. I always add crushed red pepper on top of my pizza as well. What can I say, I’m a big fan of spiciness.

The crust was great this time. It had just the right amount of crunch on the bottom and yet it was soft on the inside. I have to say, this pizza had some girth to it too. And we even halved the dough to save for another time. Just look at that the loads of melted cheese on there! I’d say this pizza was a success. I can’t wait to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

garlic crust slice

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!! :)