Jul 9, 2017

Pequod’s dishes pizza perfection in Morton Grove, Ill.

When it comes to Chicago’s signature deep dish pizza, if you asked 10 residents for their favorite, it wouldn’t be surprising to get 10 different answers.  Some will surely mention places that most out-of-towners have heard of – places like Gino’s East, Pizzeria Uno, Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s that all have helped define and spread the Chicago style.  But for every famous Chicago pizzeria drawing tourists from all over the world, there’s a great low-key neighborhood pizza joint that may be just as good, if not better. 

Pequod’s is one such place that had been on my radar for some time.  Fortunately, since Punky is as much of a foodie as me, it didn’t take much for her to convince me to finally seek out Pequod’s Pizza on one of our most recent trips to the Chicago area.  And for good measure, since we were staying way up in Skokie, we decided to try the original location in the nearby suburb of Morton Grove.     

Pequod’s is no newcomer to Chicago’s culinary landscape; it just so happens that more and more people outside of the Chicago area are being let in on the secret.  According to their Yelp bio, they’ve been in business since 1970, and as I found out while mingling with fellow diners, a lot of those regulars from the 1970s are still coming there. 

Anticipating a long wait on a weekend night, we called ahead the day before for priority seating but then arrived early anyway trying to beat an evening rainstorm (we failed at that, too).  Ultimately, we got seated around our expected time anyway.  To be fair, there is very limited seating at the Morton Grove location, but expansion would only take away from the retro charm of the place.     

By the time we finally got seated, we had studied the menu enough to put our order in right away.  Most Chicago-style pan pizzas take 40-50 minutes to cook, so we were mentally prepared for that eventually.  We started our meal with a good bottle of red wine and waited …

… and waited …

… and waited some more.  The super small bar area was looking more and more inviting all the time, as our waitress seemingly disappeared for the better part of 40 minutes.  I know pizza orders get backed out at a smaller venue like this, but what happened to the salads we ordered?  Or the appetizer of wings, for that matter? 

Ah, finally, just as the last drops of wine were devoured, the signature Pequod’s salads arrived!!  And they were, without a doubt, worth the wait.  With generous slices of mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, as well as a large pepperoncini hidden by all the other fresh ingredients, and a superb homemade oil and vinegar-based Italian dressing to smother it all, this salad was everything you’d want and expect from an old-school pizza parlor.   

Our wings arrived right before the pizza, and frankly if we had it to do over again, we would have skipped them.  The salad was plenty to whet the appetite and by comparison, the wings were just nothing special.  Still, if you’re a wing nut like me and Punky, it’s always good to have the option.

But Pequod’s reputation and strong local following begins with the pizza and its famous carmelized crust.  Once our sausage, mushroom, green pepper and black olive pan pizza arrived, we immediately put it to the test.  And boy, did they ever knock it out of the park.  Suddenly, all our worries about our order and grumbling about the wait were gone.  The sauce is slightly sweet, very zesty and the perfect complement for the sausage, as well as any veggie toppings cooked in the pie.  The carmelization on the edges comes from the overflow of cheese on the side.  Some people don’t care for it because it’s “burnt” but we loved the added flavor and crunch factor it gave the crust.

Punky and I left Pequod’s Pizza extremely satisfied with the meal, even though the service was a little subpar.  We were probably a little more forgiving than usual because of the superior product and throwback-in-time atmosphere.  In fact, compared to other famous Chicago-style pizzas, Punky claimed Pequod’s beat them all.  With so many excellent contenders, I’m not sure I can go that far, but I’d certainly put Pequod’s in my Top Three.  The place is worth seeking out … just plan to make an evening of it when you go.


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