Pizza Pie

Bill and I were recently sitting at the bar of one of Wind Crest’s restaurants, drinking a glass of wine and eating our dinner. The manager of the bar recognized us as being relatively new, so she bought our wine. In the course of our subsequent conversation with her, we learned that she, like Bill, hails from the Windy City of Chicago.

If you know anything about Chicago, you won’t be surprised to learn that the conversation quickly turned to pizza. What’s your favorite? North Side or South Side? Thin crust or thick crust? It happens that she was from the West Side, where I think the pizza preferences are a bit more on the neutral side. As long as it has a crust, red sauce, mozzarella cheese, and some sort of meat, it works.

I have no business talking about Chicago and its food traditions. I had never been to Chicago prior to meeting and marrying Bill. I grew up in a town that had NO pizza joints during my early years. When Pizza Hut opened a restaurant in Columbus, we felt like we had hit the big time. Sometime in my late teens, a Godfather’s Pizza opened, giving residents a choice. Not much of one, but a choice nevertheless.

What I quickly learned, however, is that Chicagoans have strong beliefs about their favorite foods. If you don’t believe me, ask a Chicagoan to pass the ketchup when eating a hot dog. Unless, of course, you only plan to put it on your French fries. And if you ask for a fork to assist in eating an Italian beef, you will get laughed out of the restaurant.

Bill is a thin-crust pizza man all the way. While it’s possible to find a thick-crust pizza on the South Side, pizza joints are much more likely to have the St. Louis-style pizza. The pizza crust is made without yeast, thereby yielding a cracker-thin crust that doesn’t bend in the same way as a New York-style pizza crust. The pizza is cut into squares instead of the typical triangular shape with which most people are familiar.

In Chicago, you will find a family-owned pizza place every few blocks, likely next door to a family-owned hot dog place. That’s very different from here in the Denver metro area, where there are definitely locally-owned pizza joints, but they are few and far between. Pizza lovers like Bill notice the absence, I can assure you of that.

Bill’s family had a favorite pizza restaurant, called Fox’s Pizza. There were a few Fox’s sprinkled around the Chicago’s South Side, and their particular favorite was very close to the house in which Bill spent his formative years. Fox’s Italian sausage pizza was the favorite of all of the McLains, including Wilma, up to nearly the end of her life. If you will envision a round pizza cut into squares, you will understand that there are four “corners” that are generally very small, and so, very crispy. Those are the pizza gold nuggets, if you will. The McLains fight for those four pieces. Let me tell you, Wilma was part of the fight. I think her kids let her win, begrudgingly.

I tell you that, because Fox’s pizza is the pizza to which all pizzas are measured. Many have come close, but none have nailed it. Nevertheless, Bill and I continue to search for the perfect pizza in the Denver metro area.

I was recently fed an article about good local restaurants in the suburbs. One of them was called Roca’s Pizza and Pasta. It is located in Lakewood, which is a suburb on the west side of Denver. The owner was from Wisconsin, and grew up eating St. Louis-style pizza. It sounded promising. Saturday lunchtime, we drove the 20 minutes it took to get to Roca’s to see if this was the pizza that met Bill’s expectations.

The pizza was good. Delicious, in fact…..

Was it Fox’s Pizza-good? Afraid not. Was it worth the 20-minute drive? Definitely.

You will notice Bill is eating one of the corners!

We will return.

3 thoughts on “Pizza Pie

  1. Rosati’s in Louisville is Chicago Pizza. Typically, I make my own though. Sometimes Detroit style, put mostly Chicago style.

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