1647 W. Cortland St. 773-252-3500
Look for: The gigantic wooden door under Pizza House’s sign, which you will inevitable try to open before realizing that it isn’t actually the entrance to the restaurant. That’d be the door on the left side of the storefront, which is tucked between Cortland’s Garage and Jane’s just west of where I-90 crosses over Ashland Avenue in Bucktown. “I always admired this little strip of Cortland because it’s really the gateway to Bucktown,” said owner Bobby Paladino, who is no stranger to the neighborhood (he owns Club Lucky) or the pizza business, having opened O’Fame back in the ’80s.
Best for: Bucktown couples sick of take-and-bake from Homemade Pizza Co. The restaurant is counter-service and its layout is especially well-suited for duos, with a few larger tables up front leading into a long line of tables for two. It’s also a good option for seekers of healthier pizza; thin and double-crust pizzas are made with whole-wheat dough that’s surprisingly light. The menu says that no more than four ingredients are recommended, and I can see why – the delicate crust could easily become waterlogged if overloaded with too many veggies. In the mood for something heartier, I preferred the cheesier, white-flour Sicilian-style pizza that’s available by the slice ($2-$3) with topping combos such as artichoke and kalamata olives and pepperoni with giardiniera.
Loved it: Frosted beer mugs. Because Pizza House doesn’t have a liquor license yet (Paladino expects it within 10 days or so), these tall, icy beauties were brought to the table for a round of Sprecher cream soda; however, I could imagine them filled with Stella Artois and Bell’s amber ale once the kegs are hooked up. In the meanwhile, it’s BYOB. Also coming soon: Lunch hours (in a few weeks) and delivery service (this fall).
Hated it: The size of small pizzas, which are almost comically small at 8 inches. For $12.20 with three toppings, they’re the same price as larger 10- or 12-inch pies at plenty of other pizzerias, and those extra bucks will be a sticking point for some. To avoid the soggy middle phenomenon, pizzas don’t come larger than 12 inches ($11.95 for cheese only up to $15.70 for three toppings), so groups will want to order multiples. With sausages made in house, I also had high hopes for the Italian sausage, but it could use a little more punch—more fennel, chili, pepper, something. Maybe I should have tried the turkey sausage, which Paladino said is also house-made and flavored with sage. Bottom line: When wine and beer are added, it’ll make a great low-key date night for Bucktowners, but it’s not quite yet a pizza destination.
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