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Great Lake Pizza


For some time now, friends in Chicago have been raving about Great Lake Pizza. A tiny place in the Edgewater/Andersonville neighbourhood, it was recently named best pizza in the U.S. by GQ magazine. Considering there are only three or four tables inside (and a few more outside during the summer – no BYO outside though), you can imagine what that did to the lineup. Things were a bit crazy there during my previous trip to Chicago but we decided to brave the line this time. It took about an hour to get a table and another forty-five minutes to get our pizzas. Were they the best I’ve ever had? Not sure about that but they were definitely pretty damn good. Note that these are thin crust pizzas, not the deep dish some people associate with Chicago that requires a nap after eating a single slice.

Farmers market salad

Farmers market salad

Local greens, purple carrots, heirloom tomatoes. All tasty stuff. This was just a precursor to the main event. Ultimately, it’s just salad.

Zucchini, mona, black pepper pizza

Zucchini, Mona, black pepper pizza

When our first pizza arrived, I immediately noticed the nicely puffed and slightly charred crust. The crust is always the true test for a good pizza. I like a good crunch, with a slightly soft and chewy interior. I also like the bottom of the pizza to be crispy, support the ingredients, and definitely hold its shape. Mona is a relatively mild sheep and cow milk cheese made by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-operative and aged at least six months. It didn’t overpower the delicate, thinly sliced zucchini, while the cracked black pepper offered just a little punch and tied everything together. Very good.

Smoked bacon, fresh cream, white corn, mona, chive pizza

Smoked bacon, fresh cream, white corn, Mona, chive pizza

Next was my favourite pizza of the night – smoked bacon, fresh cream, white corn, Mona, and chive. It was fresh, smoky, porky, and rich all at the same time. The hit of chive prevented it from being too heavy. My only criticism was that I would have preferred the bacon to be just a little crispier – I like really crisp bacon on pizza.

Heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, garlic, Mona, basil pizza

Heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, garlic, Mona, basil pizza

Our final pizza was Great Lake’s take on the Margarita. This is always a classic for me and is what all pizzerias should be judged on. Not too many ingredients; the tomatoes didn’t release too much water and result in a soggy crust. Watch for large slices of garlic hidden under the tomatoes if you’re on a date!

Menu at Great Lake

Menu at Great Lake

I brought a couple wines to have with the pizza. The 1998 Poderi Colla Barolo Dardi Le Rose Bussia was surprising unevolved in comparison to the last bottle I opened a few years ago. It showed notes of cherry, leather, truffle, plum, orange rind, and dried flowers, and still had a healthy amount of tannins. This wine surely would have benefited from a couple hours in a decanter. If I had additional bottles in the cellar I would wait another couple years before revisiting.

The 2006 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia was amazing but also still quite young. The high acidity in Barbera makes it a fantastic match for pizza and most dishes with tomato-based sauces. Let’s be clear – this is not your run of the mill Barbera. Roberto Conterno has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in making amazing wines from the Cascina Francia vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. Dark fruit, tar, and smoke evoke memories of my visit to the winery a few years ago. A Barbera clearly able to cellar gracefully for many years.

Corkage is only $3 a bottle but note that there are no wine glasses – tumblers only. Bring stems (and a corkscrew!) if you’re so inclined.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2009/09/07 2:49 AM

    Wine with pizza seems to be a crime here in Napoli, it’s always eaten with beer. Don’t know if you would suffer that though…..

  2. futronic permalink*
    2009/09/07 8:35 AM

    Cris, I often have beer with pizza when here in town. Mangia e Bevi carries a few Italian beers and I’ll drink that usually. At Great Lake it’s BYO though, so bringing a couple bottles of wine is easier than a bunch of beer.

  3. Allie permalink
    2009/09/08 12:06 AM

    please fedex this pizza to australia now k thnx bye

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