In Chicago pizza is serious business. There are as many favorite places as there are people, and heated debates about the properties of pizza crust and the amount of toppings frequently rage amongst the best of friends. It is no wonder that Chicago’s own Steve Dolinsky decided to write a book about pizza. He spent a year researching the plethora of pizza joints about town. Not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, if you ask me. Recently we were invited to celebrate the release of Pizza City, USA. And where else would that party be? A pizzeria, of course. The downtown location of Labriola to be exact.
Eating pizza every night for a year has dire consequences for the body. Steve had to combat those with lots of CorePower yoga classes. In his effort to bring forward the best pizzas in Chicago, he sampled ‘za at 185 local spots. But only 101 made it into the book. That saying about how bad pizza is better than no pizza at all? Not applicable.
So, what is the definitive quality that the pizza had to have to make the cut? According to Steve Dolinsky, it is OBR, or optimal bite ratio. It is the balance between the crust, the toppings, the cheese and the sauce distributed in each bite. If the pie had good OBR, the place probably made it into the book, Dolinsky said.
Not all pizzas are created equal. In fact, according to the book, Chicago offers 10 unique styles. And the latest debate about what is the true Chicago style is focused on the one called “tavern”: a thinner, softer crust, generously topped and cut into squares. I happen to land on this side of the debate, I agree that true Chicago style is tavern style pizza. So does Mr. Dolinsky. Amen. And while my favorite style is the true Neapolitan crust, I can appreciate the differences between deep dish and stuffed pizzas. So will you if you grab a copy of the book. You might even discover your new favorite pizzeria! Welcome to Pizza City, USA.
Get your copy:
The Local Tourist invitation to the book launch party courtesy of Wagstaff Worldwide.
Labriola is located at 535 N. Michigan Ave in the heart of the Magnificent Mile.
All photos by Gourmet Rambler.