This week the NPI crew, the Lawgorrhea crew, and a Chicago native ventured to the original Pizzeria Uno to try Chicago deep dish pizza. Let me start by saying, as a native New Yorker who is very proud of his state’s culinary accomplishments, I’ve always been skeptical of the deep dish as competition to New York Pizza. Here are some notes, some of which may cover deep dish more generally and some of which may be specific to Uno.
- Independent of food quality, Uno has a cool commitment mechanism. If you put your name down for a reservation, you have to put your pizza order in at the same time. This serves two purposes: A) Since deep dish takes a while to make, it allows the chef to prepare the pizza before you are at your table to minimize waiting time. B) By putting in your order, you feel some sort of allegiance to Uno, encouraging you to come back even if you find another restaurant to eat at before your wait is up. Even though they do not take your credit card number or some alternative form of deposit, they manage to establish a commitment mechanism through the possibility of feeling guilt for ordering (but not eating) such a monstrous pizza.
- Conceptually, I like the idea of putting the sauce on top of the cheese on a cheese pizza. Why? I think that sauce is generally undervalued in pizza and is often masked by loads of processed mozzarella. A fresh sauce, for me, could make or break the pizza. The sauce on Uno’s cheese slice was good. I’ve had better sauces, but there were remnants of solid tomato and the sauce was definitely fresh. This was the most positive culinary aspect of Uno.
- The crust just didn’t do it for me. It tasted like a buttery biscuit which overwhelmed the taste of the fresh sauce and the decent mozzarella. On the special Uno pizza, which had a ton of different toppings, the crust was just too much when combined with giant chunks of sausage, mushrooms, etc. As a result, I could barely consume two slices and felt bloated after that consumption. In the end, the negatives outweighed the positives at Uno. For a more positive take on pizza, NPI readers should be prepared for a full-fledged defense of New York pizza.