It's hard to say what's more remarkable about this Lincoln Park pizzeria: the rumor that it's housed in an old haunt of the Capone gang, or the fact that it doesn't actually serve pizza.
According to the owners, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder's building once served as the lookout point for the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre. When a fire gutted the building in 1971, it was subsequently purchased and refurbished. A year later, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder opened, and the restaurant has been grinding out "pizza" ever since.
Now about that pizza: It's actually a "pizza pot pie." Think pizza, inverted, and served in a bowl with the crust as a crown. Oozing with cheese and a sauce of plum tomatoes and garlic, this pizza hybrid may not be traditional, but it's won legions of fans. Sausage and mushroom are the de rigeur filling, but they'll also craft a veggie-only pot pie for non-carnivores.
If you're not in a pizza mood, you can also order the other house specialty: the grinder. A variety of fillings, from meatballs to ham to a bursting "Italian combination," come stuffed in a massive Italian loaf. Again, for the vegetarians, there's a non-meaty variety, complete with peppers, eggplant, olives, mushroom and three kinds of cheese. If you're looking for lighter fare, they also offer several salads, as well as "salad dinners," larger portions meant to be shared with a bottle of wine and an order of the famous, to-die-for Mediterranean bread. The dining room is small and a little tough to negotiate, but the booths are roomy, and the high pine wood dividers provide a sense of privacy.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kay Daly