Cafe Luigi, Calo, Coal Fire, Connie’s. And that’s just the fucking c’s.
Damn fam…there is HELLA pizza joints in this town. So many spots that make they sauce too sweet, crust too doughy, and fuck with ingredients that would even make Ron Jeremy’s dick soft. But, its time to take the junior league pizzeria shackles off dem tired dogs cuz CGs got you. I have to admit, I took a long ass dirt nap on Andersonville’s Great Lake Pizza, but this weekend I got rebirfed. On the real, co-owners Nick Lessins and Lydia Esparza aint some stinky hippie transplants who decided to open up a pizza joint. They are chefs. Pizza chefs. And they are fucking killing it.
Prior to, we were possessed by Fat Kids Camp type hunger and were well aware that dining-in was going to be as competitive as getting into Best Buy on Black Friday. When we rolled in, the 14 seats were taken so we hovered over the 10 top hoping to intimidate the lions share of diners. But these heads weren’t having it. We instantly knew who we were dealing with: LTH Krew. This wasn’t just the normal LTH scene either; this was the Deerfield contingent. They were easily 6 bottles deep in vino tinto and the DSLR was getting heavy use as hot pies arrived. As they talked about “The Best Pizza In Chicago” and Fox & Obel (poor folks, no worries if you don’t recognize the name), their bratty kids sat at a two top taking their money market portfolios for granted. I noticed that Timmy had a better cell phone than I did. Fuck. An Asian cat rolled in and as Lydia rang dood up she said, “you’re that guy from downtown…”
The needles on the tables bounced off the wax. Hole up, hole up. I thought, “What? Kats are coming up from the Loop for this shit? Am I about to get culinarily boned?” Right then, two MILFs got up from they two top and I snapped out of my raw dog thoughts.
While we sat, I felt something other than the LTH convi pulling me in and I looked up to the heavens. It was the low budget menu board talking mad game; proclaiming the restaurant’s inherent goodness in rather offensive terms…
Great Lake staff (a.k.a. the two owners) were not in a rush to get food out. We obliged by thoroughly quenching our thirst. We had nearly finished our bomber of Southern Tier Black Ale, so I made the executive decision to hop ova to In Fine Spirits to re-up on that juice.
The mixed green salad and homemade buttermilk came first. I wish that I could say that I remember the ingredients, but I don’t. Where the fuck yall at, menupages? Nevertheless, the shit was on point and I ate with the confidence that my fiber intake was getting back on par from a week of neglect.
After gobbling the greens down, we waited for what seemed like an eternity for our pie. I wasn’t heated. While on pause, mad heads came in and out for their pizza pick-ups (Great Lake don’t play that delivery shit). We could easily read the anticipation on their faces. Personally, my frothing rate resembled that of advanced mental retardation at competitive sporting events. Finally, I unclenched my fists when pizza #2 came crawling up to the table.
Simple and elegant. Artisan dough, farm fresh tomatoes, local pork sausage, and Wisconsin cheese all doused with olive oil. Oh. My. Damn. While grabbing for slices, a hunk of sausage slid off and hit the floor. Shit was so good, I picked the bite right up off the hardwood and devoured it. NO JOKE.
Now, I don’t usually fuck with pizza crust, but Great Lake’s dough was so buttery and crunchy and light, I killed everythang. Think Pillsbury Dough Boy having sex with a stick of a Stick of Land O’ Lakes and you’ve got it. No doubt, every single morsel of this pizza was juicy as jheri curls with fresh activator.
After all this goodness, my ass needed a bathroom session. To get there, I had to walk through the kitchen and the entire prep/storage area. My idea 1-D has always been to do a book on “Best Restaurant Bathrooms.” After taking a stroll through Great Lake’s operational hub, I’m thinking that idea 1-G will be “Best Restaurant Kitchens to Walk Through.” If you try to take either one of these ideas, I WILL cut you.
There is something humbling about a dining space where, at the back door, lies a doormat for various tennis shoes. I mean, this looks just like my boy’s nest, except he doesn’t have 20 bags of artisan bread flour stacked up. Its an almost unreplicatiable feat to make diners feel at home in their restaurant…I honestly don’t know of a better example of how it should be done.