Purgatory pizza is in the process of transitioning to Park Ave., a burger spot. Stay tuned.
The site of Purgatory Pizza is a bizarre crossroads of culture. Just a few blocks north is Wrigley Field, and a legion of bars trickle down Clark up to and through the juncture. To the south is the rebellious corner of Belmont and Clark, with comic-book stores and toy boutiques sneaking up from below. At the site of their showdown, a pizza place sits with a garage-door window and a hostess with neon-pink hair. So where does it really belong?
Sister operation Risque Cafe next door has managed to straddle the line between these two areas, and Purgatory follows much the same formula. The jukebox cranks through Journey, then Britney Spears, then the Dead Kennedys. The decor isn’t exactly original but is surprisingly effective; thick wood tables, metal plates, and chandeliers make the place look like an elegant dining room that, thanks to the wall mural, just happens to be going up in flames.
The menu is efficient: a handful of appetizers and salads, one sandwich for each of the seven deadly sins and a handful of specialty pizzas. While the "False Prophet," with its spicy giardiniera, sounds pretty cool, take the reins yourself and make your own pizza. You'll be much happier with the $12-$15 you spend if you experiment with the nearly 30 toppings available, including curiosities like squash, beets, pepper steak, corn and capicola. Pair your creation with one of the four excellent Midwestern craft beers on tap, and you'll find yourself pretty close to heaven—or at least the mural on the ceiling.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Dan Morgridge