Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Review: Pequod's Pizza, Chicago IL

A visit to Chicago helped me clarify the basic types of pizza that are lumped into the "deep dish" category. The basic deep dish style is a bowl-style crust, where the bottom and high sides are relatively equal in thickness. Another variety adds a layer of dough on top of the cheese - it's called stuffed pizza. Finally, pan style is (like the others) cooked in a pan, but with a thicker crust, shorter walls around the edge, and caramelized cheese around the perimeter.

Our first stop in Chicago was Pequod's Pizza. The original location is in Morton Grove, but we visited the Chicago location on Clybourn Avenue. We arrived on a rainy Sunday night, and Pequod's was packed. We waited about an hour for a table; conveniently, Pequod's owns the Whale Tale, a restaurant and bar just two doors away, where you can have a drink and wait with your buzzer. 

I'm not sure why you can't place your order while waiting for a table, because it takes 45-60 minutes for your pie to bake and arrive. So you need a lot of time to enjoy this pizza. While waiting, I began my meal with the house salad, a pedestrian mix of iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, a few other garnishes, and bottled dressing. Meanwhile, there is a lovely aroma of baking pizza wafting through the restaurant.
Pan pizza

"Thin crust" pizza
Our party of four ordered one medium thin crust pizza with veggie toppings, and one medium pan pizza with sausage. The pies came out at the same time; while the thin crust pie looked ordinary, the pan pizza was beautiful, with a rich red sauce on top and blackened edges from the caramelized cheese.

Caramelized edge was the best part

The dry, grainy, flavorless crust
The first thing I noticed when tackling the first slice of the pan pizza was the thickness of the bottom crust - about one inch. Sadly, this thick crust was dry and flavorless - almost like a brick of stale bread. The thin layer of cheese was hard to detect in texture or flavor. The sauce was bright and fresh, if a bit underseasoned - but it was sparingly applied. 
Undercooked cheese on the thin pie
I've rarely seen a pizza where the ingredients were so out of balance. On a lot of thin crust pizzas, the pizzaiolo errs by applying too much cheese, sauce, and/or toppings. Here, the dry and grainy crust needed a lot of sauce and cheese to make it palatable. While the big chunks of sausage were good quality and in generous supply, the only bites of this pizza that were enjoyable were the crisp and caramelized edges.

I tried a slice of the thin pizza, and it was equally lackluster. The medium-thick crust seemed to be made of the same dry and flavorless dough as the pan pie; large chunks of pink tomato and green peppers sat under pasty sheets of undercooked cheese.

I did a lot of research to seek out the best of the deep-dish pies in Chicago, and Pequod's get a lot of good press. Perhaps we hit it on an off night, because I've never been so disappointed to visit a pizza place with such high reputation. This pizza - pan or thin crust - was worse than Pizza Hut, worse than frozen pizza. It failed on just about every level.
When we were still hopeful
The ambiance was excellent, as was our service in both Pequod's and the Whale Tale. If not for the astounding deep dish pie that I'd experienced at Louisa's in Crestwood a few years earlier, I'd be ready to dismiss this kind of pizza as tourist junk food. Jon Stewart famously dismissed deep dish pizza as "tomato soup in a bread bowl" and maybe Pequod's gave him that impression. 

Pequod's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. Give me a break, "this pizza - pan or thin crust - was worse than Pizza Hut, worse than frozen pizza" --- you're seriously an idiot. You must know something that thousands upon thousands of people don't (the place is packed every night), guess this is what happens when morons think they are food critics.

  2. I don't get what all the hype is about Pequod's (weird name too)...I agree whole-heartedly with this reviewer, it is worse than (ok, maybe as good as) Pizza Hut! This is NOT what Chicago pizza is about!