on February 3, 2013
Pizzeria Uno29 East Ohio Chicago, IL 60611 After a day at the Blues Festival we decided it would be a good opportunity to test out the reputedly first restaurant to serve the famous ‘Chicago Deep Pan pizzas’.HISTORYThe Pizzeria Uno’s history goes way back to Chicago in 1943 when the owner Ike Sewell developed deep dish pizza and opened a new type of restaurant at the corner of Ohio & Wabash. This is the one we visited and it is tiny and you have to queue to get in!This new pizza with the thick crust caused a sensation The crust is described as ‘buttery 'out-of-this-world' crust that had a tall edge like a fruit pie.’ The recipe he invented combined authentic Italian spices and quality tomatoes with more cheese than ever before and then baked it for nearly an hour. OUTSIDE THE RESTAURANT Today you still have to queue and although there is a tiny waiting area under cover with bench seats after these are full then you are out in the street. The good thing is that you can look at the menu while waiting and put your order in so that once you are inside the hallowed inner sanctum then your pizza doesn’t take too long to arrive.There is someone waiting at the door to provide you with approximate waiting times and the menus. I have to say the person we met was not the usual sunny smiling American waitress and was a bit off hand and not that helpful when we asked about sizes etc, but never mind, we gave her our order and sat on the rather uncomfortable benches in an area a bit like a bus stop until we were invited in.ONCE INSIDEThe place is tiny and quite dark inside and very busy. We ordered our drinks and had to wait another twenty minutes or so for our pizzas. You can see into the kitchen and there was certainly a lot of activity in there. The tables are tightly packed and the waiting on staff had to squeeze passed us. It is also quite noisy despite the fact that no one was very loud it was just packed and small with low ceilings so the effect was cosy but even on our small table we struggled to hear each other talking.THE PIZZASI think we ordered two (but it might have been three) of the 12" sort of sizes and some salad and we didn’t manage to finish them and took the last two or three pieces back to the hotel with us. We put them in the mini bar fridge. The mean one that charged you if you moved anything but as we had already done that before we read that fact we thought we may as well continue using it!The pizzas were tasty and very filling. We chose the ‘CHICAGO CLASSIC’ -which is a mix topping of Crumbled sausage, chunky tomato sauce, mozzarella, Romano. And the second one I remember was ‘NUMERO UNO® - THE ONE. THE BEST’. This was the kind of pizza that is full of topping with sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms, chunky tomato sauce. topped with mozzarella & Romano.They would also let you choose half and half pizzas with half the side of one topping and the other had different which gives you the chance to try different toppings without having to get an entire extra pizza.They have also created a whole multi grain base too if you fancy a slightly healthier option. It apparently too them 70 years to create this. The 9" base has a mix of rye, corn, grits, brown rice, oat flakes, triticale flakes, soy grits, flax seed, millet, barley. I am not sure what it tastes like as we just went for the original.You can create your own deep pan pizzas by choosing any three of the following toppings too. Cheese, eggplant, pepperoni, mushrooms, spinach, green peppers, chicken, pesto, roasted red peppers, sausage, kalamata olives,roasted vegetables, anchovies, goat cheese, broccoli, hamburger. And you can add extra toppings to those already created for a n extra fee.I DON’T LIKE PIZZA SO WHAT CAN I EAT?Well if you don’t like pizza and still want to visit the home of the first Deep pan pizza that would be odd but yes you can choose from a variety of about half a dozen salads, they also have hamburgers and sandwiches, pasta dishes and this one took my eye . RATTLESNAKE PASTA - Which actually doesn’t have rattles snake in it but has sautéed chicken and spicy Alfredo tossed with penne, topped with Cheddar and slices of jalapeño. You can also order dishes with chicken as the main meal or steak or seafood too. There is also a kids menu and soups and salads. You can order small portions too which is a novel idea in the States!They also serve desserts but as we had not managed to finish or pizzas we decided we shouldn’t be piggies. They do these are full desserts and mini ones too so I suppose we could have had a mini ! They looked pretty large to me and very sweet and a bit sickly too. Two examples of these are OREO BROWNIE BOWL -A warm Oreo brownie, vanilla ice cream, fudge sauce, whipped cream and then CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUP -A giant peanut butter cup with vanilla ice cream & chocolate sauce. So not for those on calorie controlled diets at all.THE EXPERIENCEWe enjoyed our visit and it is always good to eat somewhere with an interesting history. I can’t say pizzas are normally our first choice but when in Chicago.... We found the service inside efficient and helpful. The waitress was able to recommend which beers were good for my husband and son and what else was on offer. The lady outside was a bit gruff but the inside staff were much more welcoming.It is not a relaxing or romantic place to eat but it was fun and somewhere we had on our list of places to eat while in Chicago. We did it once and didn’t return as we had a few other places on the list and one pizza in a week is enough as far as we were concerned!IT STARTED SMALL BUT...Today the Uno brand has spread far beyond Chicago and now there are over 150 Uno Chicago Grill restaurants found in 24 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Honduras, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. I am glad we managed to go to the tiny little place it all started.AWARDSThe restaurant has won a number of awards and if you are interested take a look at their website. They are not for fine dining as you might have guessed but in "2007 ‘Chicago Tribune’ put together a list of the best, most unique places to eat in Chicago that included Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due". The Pizzeria Due is the second restaurant opened serving the special pizzas in Chicago. In 2008 ‘Health Magazine’ names Uno Chicago Grill "The Healthiest Chain Restaurant in America"These are a couple of their awards so you get the picture.INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PIZZERIA UNOThese are taken from their website and thought they were both fun and interesting."LADY LIBERTY - Uno Chicago Grill uses annually enough mozzarella cheese to create 4,625 Statues of Liberty…if she were made out of cheese!WELL-TRAVELED MENU - The Uno Chicago Grill menu is multi-lingual. It is published in five different languages including English, Spanish, Korean, Arabic and Braille.WHERE DOES YOUR PASTA TAKE YOU? -Uno Chicago Grill serves 785,115 pounds of pasta a year. This is enough pasta to wrap around the world 1.8 times or make 5 round-trips from Boston to Italy!UNO CHICAGO GRILL SERVES STEAK -Uno serves 2,003,980 1 quarter inch thick steaks a year. It takes 17,831 stacked Uno steaks to reach the top of the CN Tower, the world's tallest structure. The number of Uno steaks served each year stacked is the equivalent of 112 CN Towers."RECOMMENDED?Yes of course if you are in Chicago you must have a Deep Pan Pizza and where better than the restaurant where it was invented. This is not the place to go for a quiet meal for two nor is it somewhere I would suggest for a large group as you may have to wait quite some time.It is a really tasty pizza, very filling and original. The restaurant is clean, cosy and very busy. The toilets were clean but the entire place is very small so anyone with a wheel chair will have trouble getting in but we did see someone being helped in with one so they can accommodate you but you may have to wait a while longer.
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