As I prepared for my pizza expedition out west, one of the best decisions I made was to book myself a spot on Jon Porter's Chicago Pizza Tour.
A native Chicagoan, Jon has his eyes on the pies and his thumb on the pulse of the Windy City's pizza scene. Yet he's not the only pizzaphile in town operating a pizza tour- in fact, the city has three competing tours. So how did I pick Jon's CPT?
For one thing, Jon is the only tour that travels by bus- or should I say, via the Dough Force One. The heavy snow that Saturday only reinforced my decision.
Jon's tour also seems to have the most pizzeria diversity compared to his competitors, cutting across traditional Chicago deep dish and thin crust, artisinal, and brick oven styles. Also before I forget, there's something to be said about the similarity in logos between Scott's Pizza Tour and the Slice of Chicago pizza tour:
Calling SoCPT's logo similar is being nice. What gives?
We started out at Pizano's in the loop. This pizzeria was founded by Rudy Malnatti, Jr., the son of the legendary man behind Pizzeria Uno and brother to Lou Malnatti.
Here we tried Pizano's deep dish as well as their thin crust-
My apologies on the low exposure. To be quite honest, I wasn't very impressed with either pie. The deep dish had a firm, bready crust similar to Pizzeria Uno's, and the thin crust was disappointingly undercooked on the bottom.
After hopping into the Dough Force One, we headed north to artisinal pizzeria Apart Pizza.
Immediately upon walking in the door, I knew this place was serious about the pies they crank out.
I love the "CAUTION: We cook real Italian pizza" warning. Most Chicagoans must not know what they're getting into.
Co-owner Bianca Ganvik warmly received us before taking us back stage to show off her ovens and *gasp* let some of us make our own pizza! I couldn't resist.
Awe-inspiring, I know. I took a cue from Jon and made some sort of breakfast concoction including mozzarella, ham, goat cheese, egg and oregano...
...while the resident chef whipped up one of Apart's signature "Pollo Tuscano" pies, consisting of chicken, mushrooms, onions, Feta and roasted peppers.
I had a great time on the tour, and was stoked that I could knock down slices at four pizzerias that I would have had to otherwise visit individually. Not only does Jon know his pizza, he knows his history which provided for a tasty, informative and well-rounded tour of Chicago.
If you find yourself hungry in the Windy City with a free afternoon and a serious case of indecision, do yourself a favor and give Jon a call.