Is Chicago’s best deep dish hiding in a glorified food court?

Is Chicago’s best deep dish hiding in a glorified food court?

Chicago Tribune |
Nick Kindelsperger |
Apr 11, 2018
Original Article: "Is Chicago’s best deep dish hiding in a glorified food court?"

If you could picture the most unlikely place to serve deep dish pizza, the new Beatrix Market (23 E. Jackson Blvd.) in the Loop would probably be close to the top.

Next to DePaul’s downtown campus, the space is approximately 80 percent vegetables — imagine rows and rows of immaculate produce and all the arugula you’ll ever need. The shop is an abbreviated version of Beatrix, a Lettuce Entertain You concept that has expanded rapidly around the city by catering to the kind of downtown crowd that favors salads over Chicago-style hot dogs.

Yet, there they are right upfront, adorable individual-sized deep dish pizzas, just begging for you to stray from whatever diet you’re on. (Because, let’s face it, deep dish pizza and diet have never belonged together.) John Chiakulas, chef and partner of Beatrix, says he crafted the personal deep dish pizzas to appeal to the DePaul kids: “Beatrix has a lot to offer for the health-conscious crowd, but we needed something a little extra for the college students.”

This odd combo — a healthy restaurant tackling one of the heaviest foods of all time — has resulted in a strange beast: a deep dish that cuts dramatically down on the excesses of the original, while never losing the abundant nature that’s at the core of the dish’s identity. It’s, to my mind, the best deep dish in the city right now.

They are handsome little things ($6.99 for cheese, $7.69 for sausage or spinach), with high golden-brown sides, dark lipstick-red tomato sauce, and bubbling cheese peeking around the perimeter. The slick of grease that normally accompanies deep dish is notably absent, even with the sausage pizzas. How’d he do that? “We par-cook the sausage and discard the grease,” says Chiakulas, noting that most deep dish places layer raw sausage on deep dish before baking it, so all the fat pools on top of the pizza. Par-cooking also allows the sausage to develop crispy browned edges, making the nuggets taste even meatier than they would otherwise.

That said, the dish is not exactly low-calorie. “The goal was not to make a healthy deep dish pizza,” says Chiakulas. “The goal was to make the most delicious version.” Cheese is still abundant under the sauce, and it lovingly oozes when you bite in.

More important, it still looks like deep dish, which is thanks to the excellent crust. Though it maintains a tall edge like other deep dish, the crust slopes down at a much steeper angle and is surprisingly thin where it meets the bottom. Somehow, it still stays crispy and crunchy, even though it’s only about ½-inch thick.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m not exactly a deep dish fan, though I’ve tried hard over the years to form an appreciation. My resistance almost always has to do with the crust. Grab an individual deep dish pie from the downtown locations of Pizano’s, as I did recently, and the first smell to hit your nose is one of over-fermented yeast, almost like someone spilled beer across the counter. Along with an oily sheen, the crust also mysteriously lacks salt. I find it maddening.

Beatrix Market’s deep dish doesn’t reek of yeast and, instead, brings to mind a crackly loaf of Italian focaccia. According to Chiakulas, Beatrix Market’s crust contains “lots” of olive oil, but it luckily never tastes greasy. Plus, it’s actually seasoned with salt.

This isn’t Chiakulas’ first go at the thick-crusted pizza. He developed the individual deep dish pies for Foodlife (another Lettuce property) in Water Tower Place. Though they look sort of similar, the pies at Foodlife are much heavier and greasier. “I’ve worked and worked on this particular recipe,” says Chiakulas, “but I’ve been keeping it close to the vest for a while. I’m just introducing it for the first time.”

Hopefully, Lettuce Entertain You knows what it has here: quite possibly the best deep dish in the city at a glorified college food court. I’d love to see what one of these pies would taste like in a larger portion, though this will do for now.

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-907-7347

You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
Where to Eat Lunch
Apr 11, 2018

For that one hour escape from your office, you want to make sure to make most of your lunch hour.…

read more >
Openings
Now Open: Beatrix Market DePaul Loop
Apr 2, 2018

There’s a new Beatrix Market in town, Chicago! Calling all Loop residents and 9 to 5’ers, DePaul…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Welcome Our 2017 Newcomers
Dec 5, 2017

2017 is coming to a close, but we opened lots of new doors this year! Lettuce has welcomed newcomers…

read more >
How To
How To: Make Thanksgiving Dinner Like a Chef
Nov 15, 2017

In charge of preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year or simply looking for recipe inspiration? Our…

read more >
Openings
Introducing Beatrix Market In The Chicago Loop
Oct 13, 2017

Introducing Beatrix Market (155 N. Wacker), a grab & go market experience stocked with large…

read more >
Openings
Beatrix and Beatrix Market Open in Fulton Market
Jun 14, 2017

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Dining Room at Beatrix Fulton Market[/caption] Begin…

read more >
Openings
Coming Soon: Beatrix Streeterville
Oct 16, 2015

We are excited to welcome a second location of Beatrix to the Lettuce Entertain You family when it…

read more >

Recent Posts

In The Restaurants
In Season: Spring Peas
Apr 24, 2018

Spring has sprung and with the change in the season, our chefs have beautiful green veggies on their…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Kentucky Derby, it’s Mint Julep Time!
Apr 23, 2018

It's that time of the year again to break out the mint juleps and don your Derby hat for the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Apr 22, 2018

This Cinco de Mayo our restaurants are going south of the border with specials throughout the week -…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour
Apr 21, 2018

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! Here are all the happy hour deals at select Lettuce Entertain You…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Now Serving: 9 After 9 with Oysters & Fries
Apr 20, 2018

There's a new special in town that can only be found at Oyster Bah in Lincoln Park. If 9:00 PM hits…

read more >
In The Restaurants
There’s a New Fleet of Sweets in Town at Beatrix
Apr 20, 2018

Beatrix Executive Pastry Chef and Associate Partner Yasmin Gutierrez has done it again. Just in time…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Celebrate Mother’s Day 2018
Apr 18, 2018

That special woman who would do absolutely anything for you deserves a day to be celebrated. Join us…

read more >
In The Restaurants
James Beard Eats Week 2018
Apr 17, 2018

James Beard Eats Week is back! From April 27-May 7 show your support of aspiring Chicago culinary…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Now Serving: Chianti Wine Jelly at Pizzeria Via Stato
Apr 13, 2018

Any respectable cheeseboard is going to have an accompaniment that perfectly elevates your choice in…

read more >
How To
National Grilled Cheese Day: 5 Steps to Achieve Grilled Cheese Nirvana
Apr 12, 2018

National Grilled Cheese Day (Thursday, April 12) is a food holiday we can certainly get behind.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Eat Lunch
Apr 11, 2018

For that one hour escape from your office, you want to make sure to make most of your lunch hour.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Trending Now: Matcha
Apr 10, 2018

For all those who are matcha obsessed our chefs and mixologists have incorporated this…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!