It might actually be the only time you’ll get a slice from heavyweights Gino’s East, Home Run Inn and Lou Malnati’s all on one plate… a plate shaped like a slice of pizza. The crowd skewed really young for this event, but when it’s a Sunday afternoon celebration of all things pizza in a national landmark we make no excuses.
The highlight was when The Hungry Hound, Steve Dolinsky introduced musical guest, Twin Peaks. Steve’s passionate rant served as promotion for his upcoming book and tour concept for Pizza City USA. It was a declaration that Chicago, with its ten distinct styles of pie is the greatest pizza city in the country.
It’s hard to deny this claim even if Thalia Hall theater lights flickered mid speech suggesting that he wrap it up. Deep Dish Pizza is to Chicago what Times Square is to NYC. It’s on the short list of things a tourist should do. But our go to everyday pizzas are more likely to be the square cut tavern style.
Thalia is a full on concert hall with two levels and capacity for about 500 during a show. Last year Wicker Park’s Chop Shop was venue of choice. Sponsor Old Style offered five options including their latest, Cooler By The Lake Radler. Upstairs you could experience exhibits from The United States Pizza Museum. It’s an org is based online but has a permanent residence at Paulie Gee’s in Logan Square.
Pie Eyed and The Ruin Daily held it down for small independent shops. But the power of local chains was on full display. You could argue that best in show was the Connie’s Italian Beef Pizza. But Gino’s vegan option, Ratatouille Pizza (spiced eggplant and zucchini slices with garlic, tomato, basil) gets my vote.
A Chicago Handshake is Old Style with a shot of Malort. Legend has it that their tagline a few years ago was Malort: It Taste Like The Day That Daddy Left. The Swedish liqueur was made in Chicago and remains a local delicacy even though Carl Jeppson Company moved production to Florida back in 1989.
My first dance with it was at Haymarket seven years ago. Contractors that flew to China, built the brewhouse and ship it home wanted a celebratory toast. Malort on that day reminded me of hairspray and gasoline in a shot glass. Today it was more palatable, think vodka soaked grapefruit peel and spruce tips in a liqueur. Not sure if that says more about the booze or me. But I do appreciate the finer points of a proper party Sunday Funday…and this was that.
-Pizza Summit is organized by Old Style and Empty Bottle
-Last two years of Summit were at Chop Shop
-MC ShowYouSuck hosted both sessions this year
-Home Run Inn, Connie’s, Gino’s East, Pie Eyed, Lou Malnati’s, The Ruin Daily and more participated this year.
-Upstairs featured Chicago-inspired art from Ryan Duggan and the Chicago Neighborhoods