Dishing deep about Pequod’s, Chicago’s “best” pizzeria

From the Saturday, Sept. 3, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

Dishing deep about Pequod’s, Chicago’s “best” pizzeria


Sept. 7, 2012

Early this year on an episode of FOX’s well-intentioned, but slightly off-key cop series “The Chicago Code,” the show’s junior detective attempted to pick up a nurse by “proving” he was a true Chicagoan with the odd declaration that there’s a citywide consensus about the best pizza place on Chicago’s North Side.

There isn’t.

Rather, just like absorbing tax hikes, dodging potholes and waiting ’til next year, the debate over the premier pizza parlor in the Windy City is one of Chicagoans’ eternal struggles.

The best taste in the town depends on, well, your taste. But that, of course, doesn’t stop outlets from saying they know the truth.

On TV, that young detective claimed Chicago Pizza And Oven Grinder Co. is the North Side’s best. Two years ago, GQ Magazine went so far as to declare that Great Lake Pizza serves the tastiest slices in all of America. And, now, last month, Food Network Magazine threw its napkin into the fray, tapping Pequod’s Pizza as having the premier pie in the entire Land of Lincoln for its feature, “50 States, 50 Pizzas.”

Considering that “The Chicago Code” was canceled (in part because it never seemed to quite know Chicago) and that I already visited Great Lake Pizza last December for a (delicious) taste test and column, it was Food Network Magazine’s claim about Pequod’s that piqued my interest – and my appetite – this past week.

So, intrepid reporter that I am, I took it upon myself to visit the restaurant so I could get my fill of its fare – and fill you in on the quality of the latest slice to stake a claim to Chicago’s pizza throne.

“There are endless deep-dish pizzas in Chicago, but this sports bar serves one with a twist,” Food Network Magazine wrote about Pequod’s, located at 2207 N. Clybourn Ave. in Lincoln Park. “The pies are baked in well-seasoned, cast-iron pans lined with a sprinkling of mozzarella, so when the pizzas come out of the oven, they have a crust of crispy, salty, caramelized cheese.”

Now, normally, I’d add a few other ingredients into my pie, such as sausage, onion and green peppers, but Food Network Magazine said not to bother.

“(The crust) is so captivating that toppings are an unnecessary distraction,” the article claimed, “A simple cheese pie is the way to go.”

And so I went with that advice when I strolled in to the dimly lit restaurant filled with cozy booths and tables between a pair of long, exposed-brick walls. Established in 1970 and named after the fictitious 19th-century Nantucket whaleship upon which Captain Ahab chased the white whale in Herman Melville’s 1851 classic Moby-Dick, Pequod’s atmosphere is as warm as its food.

There was no word on whether Ahab was a pizza fan, but I imagine he would have enjoyed a slice of Pequod’s cheese, which actually seemed almost meaty thanks to thickness of the chunky, juicy tomato sauce slathered on top.
“It’s simple pizza,” the food critic website wrote about Pequod’s fare back in July. “About as plain as a deep dish gets, but its crust is one of the best in the city. There is nothing gourmet about the pizza at Pequod’s, and there is no single ingredient we can point to as being close to the best in Chicago. But the way everything comes together is simply magical.”

Now, magical enough to be the best pizza in Illinois?

Well, who knows. But, really, when it comes down to it, does it truly matter? Pequod’s indeed is worth going out of your way for.

And I wouldn’t say that about every Chicago pie.