Once upon a time there was a South of Chicago Pizza in Fletcher Place, on Virginia Avenue. It had one of the best, if not the best, Italian Beef sandwich in the city. they also had a lunchtime buffet. They were so successful they were able to open another joint near Greenwood. Back in July they were told that the new building owners didn’t want to renew their lease. So they are gone and this joint is here.
I enjoy buffets. It is just difficult for me to get any decent pictures of the buffet line.
This is most of the salad bar, in 2 shots. For an inexpensive buffet ($11- drink included) it was well-appointed.
They also offered a plain cheese pie and a meatball dish.
On my first trip I got a slice of both the sausage and bacon pies. Deep dish and a thinner crust. I also tried their meatball dish. I enjoy deep dish sometimes, it depends on the crust. However I consider it more an open-faced Calzone than a pie. I agree with Pat about the sauce it tasted of tomato only. Some people swear that a pizza sauce should be unassuming so that the toppings will stand out. Others contend every element of a dish should stand on its own. In this case I am more a stand by itself sorta guy. This especially is relevant with the meatball dish. The meatballs were huge. One cross-section was about 3 inches. They had a great texture, just no great taste. The overall dish was something I would eat at a buffet but as a primary dish, no.
As I said this was a nice salad bar. This was a very good buffet and from the lunch crowd the folks in the neighborhood agree.
South of Chicago is probably best known for their Italian Beef sandwiches, and rightfully so. They probably have the best in the city. They also have pizza and during weekend lunch they have a buffet, featuring one of their entrees in addition to the pizza. On Tuesday it is Italian sausage.
This is a small joint so the buffet doesn’t take up much space. They offer a modest salad bar as well.
For the hot food they have various deep dish pizzas and one large thin crust cheese pizza.
For me taking pictures of a buffet is problematic. The sneeze guard gives off a glare so I can’t stand in front and take a shot so I have to stand at the end. With this set up the space is limited so this is the best I could get.
There are more elaborate buffets in town but this modest affair is more than adequate to sate your appetite. Plus it is only 10 bucks each. Drink included. I really enjoyed their food. The toppings on the pizza were abundant and the sauce was rich with nice body. Cautionary note it is heavy with tomato paste; which I like; but you can almost OD on it. The sausage was very good but I am with Pat on the beef. For that you have to hit the joint on Monday. Regardless of the day of the week this place is quite legit. Here is the schedule of the entrees with the buffet.
People toss around the phrase “hidden jewel” probably too often. This little place may well be just that. The make all of their own crust and bread as well as cheesecakes and gelato. This time around we didn’t have room for desert but there is always another time.
We noticed this place some time back when we went to “Some Guys Pizza”; which is about one block away.Its proximatey to “Some Guys” may be the reason it isn’t that well know. It has been around since 1999 and Pat and I have never heard of it. It isn’t a “sexy” joint with a wood or coal-fired oven. It doesn’t offer duck confit or organic kale toppings. It is just a little Pizza joint that offers a good pie at a good price.
Naturally when you go to a Pizza place you need to overload on carbs so we ordered some garlic bread for $5.00. It comes with your choice of 2 sauces. We opted for red sauce and garlic & butter.
The bread had a good flavor and a nice chew to it. The red sauce was very good with a touch of sweet. The fingers don’t come with it.
Pat’s critique of the crust was correct. I don’t think olive oil before hand would have necessarily fixed the issue. However a brushing with some would have given it a sheen and an extra luscious mouth feel. My personal pie was the same way. I,however like the slight char. As long as the crust stays soft. This crust was soft and stayed soft sitting in Pat’s car and on my kitchen counter for about 5 hours,in a go box.
My pie was a two topping one. Black olives and anchovy. I really like that combo. Both pies were under 8 bucks. A single $7.20 and a double for $7.90. The crusts we got are called their original thin crust. They also have a really thin crust if that is your taste; as well as a deep dish.
I am with Pat about the calzone. I am going to get one, maybe to go. That way I can try some cheese cake and gelato.
I really like old school bars and taverns. I like the dark and quiet ambience. Except when you try to take a picture with a smart phone, well at least with my smart phone. Unless I have really good light my pictures are not too good. But I guess it is better than Pat and I making drawings.
Pat promoted this joint because of their pizza. A good pie is always a good reason to visit. So Pat ordered a salad and large slice.
I wanted soup and a large slice. The SOD was Gumbo. This had to be left over from Fat Tuesday so I ordered a bowl. Gumbo is one of several dishes better as a left over.
The Gumbo was pretty good. A nice broth with a good dose of cayenne and all the usual suspects in side. Chicken,shrimp and the Trinity. I prefer my roux to be darker and my sauce to have more leg to it. But it hit the spot on this 17 degree day. I wanted a sausage and pepperoni slice.
The pie was outstanding. I don’t know if you can see it or not but the cheese was nicely browned, as a good pie demands. I thought everything was spot on. The sauce, the large pepperoni slices, the crumbly sausage and the huge amount of cheese. The crust had a really nice tooth and stood up well to its big load. This was their standard crust. They also have a thin and a pan. The pan is similar to what some folks would call a deep dish. They offer a 10 inch pan,which is what I am having when I go back.
Being a fully functional bar they have beer and liquor specials,so that is worthy of consideration. It is a huge place and an attractive place and the service is excellent.
The above pictures are of the bar area. The partial wall and its booths are all part of the bar seating. Our server Cindy was handling the area. Booth customers as well as bar patrons. Plus she had to deal with several carry out orders. I think she did one heck of a job. Thank you Cindy and thanks kitchen dudes for our pizza.
I don’t usually go out at night. Especially on Saturday night. However I decided to make an exception this Saturday night. I had plans to meet some friends at a new joint on Mass. Ave. I really wanted to check this particular joint out.
When I go downtown I always take a bus;or a cab. Parking is insane, and expensive. Bus fare is cheap and even cab fare is reasonable compared to driving. However I had no idea that there were two events going on at the Stadium and the Arena. So long story short I decided to head to Pearl Street. Pat and I have been there before, before the blog and we had talked about going back. Well I just jumped the gun.
I know from earlier experience they can make a good pie. I ordered an 8 inch deep dish pizza. The basic price is $8.75. For meat it is an extra $ 1.50 and $1.00 for veggies. That makes a sausage and mushroom deep dish pizza pie $11.25. I think that is pretty expensive. Another reason I prefer lunch. They do offer a cup of soup or a salad for an extra $1.99 with a pizza.
The soup they had for the day was a spicy chicken with gorgonzola.
A smooth soup with a bit of a bite and a touch of bleu cheese funk from the Gorgonzola. I found it to be a very good soup. What I enjoyed most about it was the bleu cheese component was added as a garnish so the taste wasn’t changed by heat.
Now the pie. I thought it was delicious. The dough was fluffy and bread like around the edges. With a nice buttery top
crunch and the bottom with the all the good stuff in it was nice and crisp. I think every part was great. From the sauce to the sausage and mushrooms I thought it was a fine piece of work.
I think this place is a wonderful choice for a pizza and beer. Right smack dab in the middle of the down town loop. It sits on Pearl Street. That is the alley that runs from Meridian Street to Penn. on the North side of the Century Building. In that area called the Wholesale District. So if your are in the area and have a hankering for a pie and beer this is as good as you will find.
Pat has mentioned this place a few times as he sees it quite often while shopping. He and Fran went one evening and thought it was worth a visit for lunch. I trust Pat’s taste and judgement as he can be pretty finicky. However on this I was a bit apprehensive. There are 2 food sites here. Urbanspoon and Yelp. On Yelp people were complimentary of the food not too complimentary on the service. On Urbanspoon only 3 people visited the joint, one liked it and only one wrote a review of it. He didn’t even eat there. He though the place too dirty. Well as soon as I walked in I wondered what joint he was writing about.
The place is huge. They have 3 pool tables and a section for bands. They offer live music on weekends; so I can see prompt service possibly being a problem when they are rockin’. As far as the “dirty” problem I saw a joint that looked pretty clean.
We were the first customers of the day so we had the joint to ourselves for a while. The bartender was quite able. Efficient and friendly. Between serving us, other customers and doing a few bartender jobs I don’t think he stopped for a minute.
When Pat was there last week he and Fran shared an appetizer; Sausage Pie. It’s Italian sausage, salami cubes and cheese with a bread crust, top and bottom. Like a deep dish pizza with a top. The resultant pieces are approximately three inches square and 2 inches thick. They come with sauce on the side and you can get 4 pieces for $4.95 or 8 for $8.95. Pat insisted on the larger order. He intended to “pig out on the pie and get a side salad for his entrée.
Yeah; we started eating before we took the shot. Just visualize 4 more pieces in the empty spaces.
They call this a side salad. $2.95. It’s sort a’ big. I got one just like it with my entrée. But; before I go there let us review the Sausage Pie. It was very good. Lovely taste and texture. A nice fennel flavor from the Italian sausage, melding nicely with the cheese,and a hunk of salami, every now and then. As I understand ,it is someone’s Grandma’s recipe. Very good job.
On the menu featured on their website the offer house made lasagna. And they offer it as a half, for $6.95 or a whole for $12.95. Well I wanted a half portion; but they don’t do that any more. So I ordered a full size. I only ate 2 pieces of my pie, half my salad and I was staring at a rather large piece of pasta, meat, cheese and red sauce. With some help from Pat I was only able to eat maybe one-third of the portion. But what I ate was quite good. The ricotta had a nice herb seasoning that fit the sausage and sauce quite well. This dish was superior to several that I have had at authentic Italian restaurants. My only question when I saw the dish was why so much marinara? It was pretty tasty, but most joints like to show off the browned cheese top. Well, when I got home with the left overs I learned why.
After I got home my better half ate the left overs. And she discovered that approximately half of the lasagna was burned on the top. The half farthest away from me. It wasn’t burned so badly as to render it inedible; but it was pretty dark. In either event it should not have been served. I have theories as to how it could have happened; but they are all moot. The kitchen guy screwed up. Our’s was his first ticket. It wasn’t like he was being slammed and in the weeds. It was his first ticket. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think this makes him a rotten cook or this a rotten joint. He just screwed up. His sausage pie was very good as was the first half of the lasagna. He just should not have sold that ticket. But will that stop me from going back. NO. They offer prime rib on Friday and Saturday nights. And they have ribeye on the menu. And I have a thing for steak and beer.