Chicago pizza, New York pizza, gold jacket, green jacket, who gives a sh*t. Quibble all you want over the preferred style of pizza - Chicago or New York - but we won't entertain your concerns. We admit both are great and stand by the fact that they are different dining experiences serving a different purpose. But there is one fact we are adamant about, which is don't you dare compare Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder to either, because Oven Grinder falls into a category of its own.
Created by attorney Albert H. Beaver in 1972, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder has since been a Lincoln Park landmark serving up their unique pizza pot pies. Pizza pot pie? Yes, pizza pot pie. Kind of like chicken pot pie but better, because it's pizza, and pizza makes everything better. While the pizza pot pies are the star of the show, they are also serving some exceptional oven grinders on homemade Italian loafs.
Located at the bottom of a three-story brick structure on Clark just west of the Lincoln Park Zoo, this place has some Chicago history. Settling into one of the big wood booths in this dimly lit, below ground restaurant is like steeping back into the gangster squad days of Al Capone. Part of that feeling may stem from the fact that across the street is the spot of the infamous St. Valentines Day Massacre, where Capone's men gunned down seven members of a rival gang, and rumor has it used Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder's building as a lookout point. When it comes to your dining experience at Oven Grinder, make yourself comfortable, hunker down, and prepare to go to war, with your food at least.
Remember to bring cash, because no cards or paper trails are allowed, and the closest ATM is kind of a trek. Our favorite experience is when you have enough heavy appetites to split a lot of bit of everything.
Soft, thin, flakey bread baked with Italian spices and cheese. It's addicting, to say the least, and goes great by itself or with any salad. It's bigger than the plate it comes on and drapes over the table.
Speaking of salad, that word may be a little bit of a misnomer here. While there is lettuce involved, this “salad” comes with a plethora of Italian meats, cheeses, pepperoncinis, olives, and meatballs. The creamy garlic dressing and oil it comes with aren’t exactly health conscious either, and all of this may explain why this Italian Festa is one of our favorite salads around.
Pizza. Pot. Pie. And there are only a couple decisions you have to make. There are two sizes: half a pound or single pound. Meat (sausage) or vegetarian sauce. White or wheat. Mushrooms or no mushrooms. That’s it. We like to go meat sauce, wheat crust, and mushrooms. Plan on at least 1/4 lb of pot pie per person if you order other things to share share. Otherwise, 1/2 lb makes for a nice personal size.
The usual stuff, including smoked ham, genoa salami, Swiss cheese, and sweet red pimento peppers to name a few. The bread is what makes the grinders great, so while this sandwich is a favorite of ours, choose one with your preferred fillings.