Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dante's Pizzeria

When pizza in Chicago is talked about, the first thing that comes to mind is the deep dish Chicago-style first presented by Uno Pizzeria in 1943. There is a Chicago style that has a thin crust and cut in squares but there are also numerous other regional styles that are done in Chicago including New Haven Style, Quad City Style, and Neapolitan Style. While there have been some pizza joints that have claimed to be serving New York Style, they haven't been that great as far as New York style pizza is concerned. Recently, a new pizza joint claiming to serve a New York style pizza opened in my neighborhood so I decided to try it out. The name of the place is Dante's Pizzeria and it plays on the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, and his most famous poem, The Divine Comedy and more specifically The Inferno. The walls of the restaurant are dark red and the high, unfinished ceiling is black. The ordering counter is toward the back on one side and the kitchen window where you pick up your order is on the back wall. Above the window is a sign saying "Abandon Hunger, All Who Enter Here" (a play on the sign above the gates of Hell, "Abandon Hope, All Who Enter Here"). The music played is hardcore punk and there are concert posters for hardcore bands that have played in the area hung on the wall. While you can order whole pizzas, they are enormous (20 inches), so a lot of their pizzas will be sold by the slice (which are also huge). Slices available are cheese, sausage, pepperoni, and the slice of the day which is one of their 8 specialty pizzas which are named for characters in The Inferno. In order to try to compare Dante's Pizza with a New York style pizza, I figured it would be best to get a simple pizza and in order to see what they did, I decided to try one of their specialty pizzas. So I ordered a slice of pepperoni and a Geryon. When I was called to pick up my slices, I was a little overwhelmed because I was a little unprepared for the size of the slices. There is a reason that people fold slices of New York style pizza. It's because they are so big that trying to eat it flat is a bit unwieldy. I started with the pepperoni. The crust was thin and looked as if it was hand tossed. The sauce and cheese were light and had enough pepperoni without overwhelming it. The crust also had a nice char on it which I thought was nice. The Geryon is named for the the Monster of Fraud, the eighth ring of hell, a winged beast with the face of an honest man, the paws of a lion, the body of a wyvern, and a poisonous sting at the tip of his tail. The name, while interesting, really had no connection to the pizza. The pizza had sausage, broccoli rabe, and ricotta cheese. The crust on this was similar to the pepperoni although it didn't have as much char. The combination was pretty good which gave me hope for the other combinations. I really enjoyed Dante's and am sure that I will be back although I probably won't try to order to two slices at once.

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