Terence Sean Davis provides dispatches from the worlds of art, life and food in Chicago, where it’s always Gourmet Season
Cold nights in Chicago, if they don’t require a red wine or bourbon, are typically boosted by a trip to a cozy restaurant.
Exploring on a cold night in Chicago can be interesting. This particular evening I sought out to find a pizza spot that wasn’t a chain restaurant (I’m pretty anti-chain restaurant in general). What struck my mood was an authentic Italian meal where the staff is family and the water is brought to the table in a clear glass bottle — Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders Co. in Lincoln Park came to mind as I’ve driven by it numerous times.
Fortunately on this night I was mindful enough to finally check out this spot that always seems to have heavy traffic coming in and out. Yeah, I waited about an hour in a half, but that time went by quickly with a few drinks at Lincoln Park Stadium.
Entering Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders it was dimly lit with high wooden booths, close spaces seemingly encouraging intimate conversations but with enough space allowed to feel comfortable no matter how pleasant your company is or not. We skipped past the appetizers and decided to go for the Pizza Pot Pie with meat sauce and Meatball Oven Grinder Sandwich — queue the fire emojis.
Yes, it was fire overall but I feel the hype over the Pizza Pot Pie, often a featured element when this restaurant is brought up, left it a bit overrated. The meat sauce was fairly bland, which was surprising, but the cheese, mushrooms and the pie’s crust saved this entrée.
There was no need for saving the Oven Grinder Meatball Sandwich, which played no games — I was more at its mercy than the other way around.
I should mention at this point that every meal at this restaurant is cooked in a brick oven, which could be gleamed from the straight-forward name it has.
Think of the heat such an oven can provide and how it brings everything together in a meal such as this jam-packed sandwich — black Italian meat balls, tomato sauce, brick cheese, fresh green peppers, Romano cheese, garlic oil and Italian spices. You couldn’t be held down better on a cold night with a fifth of vintage and your girl in your favorite evening garment of hers. Thickness would be at a premium in both situations — thickness such as that provided by the cheese, the meat and the bread in this awesome package.
With winter just knocking at our door, feel free to creep out the back and make your way to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders Co. to get the kind of feel that comes with good meal that keeps you warm and in need of a to-go box.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; follow Terence on Twitter @Dotfresher and check out Gourmet Season on Instagram for more local flavor.