Deep dish or thin, Chicago ranks No. 1 in pizza

  • Written by Joe Boyle

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In case you missed it, a day of importance has just passed and many of us were unaware.

No, I’m not talking about the election that took place on Tuesday. I’m also not referring to opening day of major league baseball.

This past Wednesday, April 5, was National Deep Dish Pizza Day. To be perfectly frank, I never heard of National Pizza Day. The only reason I know about it now is that I received a couple of emails this week.

A few of them mention about the so-called debate regarding Chicago pizza vs. New York pizza. One survey stated that 51 percent of Americans prefer Chicago-style deep dish pizza, while 49 percent prefer New York-style pizza.

I don’t even know what to make of that. An online agency conducts a survey comparing Chicago and New York pizzas. According to the survey, they interviewed “Americans.” I guess that means they randomly contacted people from coast to coast for their opinions.

It probably would make more sense to talk to Chicagoans and New Yorkers. I think they will give plenty of reasons for why they like their pizzas. A large reason natives of both cities like their specific pizzas is that they have grown up with them.

And you know what? That’s fine with me. Quite frankly, I don’t look at this as some type of competition. I’ve never been to New York City but I assume they have some good pizzas. I had some pizza in Boston once, dining in the Italian section of the city. The pizza was quite tasty.

But I think most of us would agree that Chicago has some of the best pizza around. At least it stands out among pizzas served in other American cities. I mention the U.S. because if you had a slice of pizza in Italy, it would be something completely different.

Chicagoans often have a chip on their shoulders. I suppose that comes from trying to elude stereotypes made about the city. Al Capone has been dead for decades. Yet some people will still make references to the once notorious gangster. We also survived the 1968 Democratic Convention, although Hollywood and celebrities stayed away for years.

But that is in the distant past. Now Chicago has several TV shows filming here, along with many movies. Michael Jordan actually became a bigger name than Capone. At least Jordan has a statue in his honor.

Yet, there are still some misconceptions about Chicago. Most TV shows or films that are supposed to be about the city follow a familiar theme. But the facts are we are not all Cub fans and not everyone hangs around the North Side.

And not every Chicagoan eats deep dish pizza. We have certain pizza establishments who make it better than others. But we also have great thin-crust pizzas throughout the city and yes, the south suburbs, too. I think a lot of us grew up with a favorite pizza establishment in our local neighborhoods.

We had one certain pizza place that we would order from and enjoyed. They would deliver and we would often go to pick it up at 103rd and Elizabeth in Chicago. Looking back, the pizza was a little greasy but we loved it just the same. Julian High School was eventually built across the street and our favorite pizza place moved to Western Avenue. They would not deliver anymore but we would drop in there often.

For pizza lovers, it seems you don’t have to go far to find one or two great places in the area. That’s what great about Chicago. These pizza restaurants are not chains but mostly family-run businesses. Many of them have brought up a loyal following that dates back to the old neighborhoods where they originated.

Chicago-style pizza is a little thicker than other locations. The sausage is baked in the cheese, along with the added ingredients. Many Chicago pizzas are cooked a variety of ways. But New York does not have a monopoly on thin-crust pizza.

The real measure of Chicago pizza is that when you leave the metropolitan area, the quality of the pizza diminishes. Within about a two-mile radius from my current home, I can order or pick up pizza at nearly 10 restaurants and all of them are well above average.

I don’t think you can say that about other cities. Los Angeles may have the glitz but not a good pizza. National Pizza Day has passed but I don’t think Chicagoans mind. Good pizza is just a phone call or a short drive away.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cubs prepare for an encore while Sox search for direction

  • Written by Joe Boyle

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The major league baseball season begins on Sunday. It was just over four months ago that the Chicago Cubs shattered a 108-year drought by capturing the World Series.

And in celebration of the new baseball season, I will pose two quiz questions to our readers about our local teams:

  • Who was the winning pitcher and who earned the save when the Cubs won game seven of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians last fall?
  • And who was the winning pitcher and who earned the save for the Chicago White Sox when they won the 2005 World Series against the Houston Astros?

The answers will be provided at the end of this column.

Yes, the Cubs are World Series champions. Fans are still riding an emotional wave as they prepare to visit the St. Louis Cardinals at 7:35 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. Even if you are not a fan, you can’t escape seeing or hearing about them. The praise has often been genuine. Sometimes it is over the top.

Theo Epstein is not only considered baseball’s best executive, he has also been selected as the world’s greatest leader by Fortune Magazine. That reminds me of that line by Babe Ruth when he was asked if he should be paid more than the president. “I had a better year,” he quipped. Epstein is ranked higher than Pope Francis. I guess he had a better year. Holy Cow!

During the winter, Cub players made appearances on TV talk shows. They were twerking on “Saturday Night Live” and singing, too. Heck, you can’t even avoid them on “Dancing with the Stars.” Retired catcher Dave Ross was dancing to “Go Cubs Go!”

I think you know where I’m going with this. The only obstacle for the Cubs in the National League East is themselves. With all the distractions this winter and completing a dream season that brought many fans to tears, will the Cubs lose focus? I think they will be fine for several reasons. First, the competition in the NL Central is not that strong. The Brewers and Reds are in transition, and Pittsburgh has to reignite behind a rejuvenated Andrew McCutchen.

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed former Cub center fielder Dexter Fowler to leadoff and bring some leadership to that team. But the Cubs have filled the slot with former Cardinal John Jay and Albert Almora. Both should play well and they excel defensively. That will be important because they may have to make up for Kyle Schwarber’s defensive deficiencies in left. Schwarber has no deficiencies at the plate, however. His best position is at bat.

The Cubs have a strong staff led by Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Kyle Hendricks had the lowest ERA in baseball and is listed as the fifth starter. The Cubs have depth and that alone should get them far in the National League playoffs. The depth will be tested early as Almora has tightness in his neck and shortstop Addison Russell also has been suffering from a stiff back. That could mean Javy Baez could start the season at shortstop. He is the team’s best defensive player.

The Cubs are not perfect. Will former Royal closer Wade Davis pitch as he has in the past? He had some arm problems last season before improving in the second half. And will Jason Heyward’s restructured swing pay dividends this season? So far this spring he has been an easy out.

But the Cubs have more talent waiting to get an opportunity. Ian Happ will be sent to the minors but he cracked five homers this spring and hit over .400. The Cubs are no longer lovable losers.

The Chicago White Sox won two more game than they did in 2015, but it was not good enough. Robin Ventura was not fired but he knew it was time to leave. Rick Renteria, who was shown the exit door with the Cubs when Joe Maddon became available, is the new Sox skipper. The Sox floundered in mediocrity and that resulted in Chris Sale being dealt to the Red Sox and Adam Eaton sent to the Nationals.

But the White Sox in two trades improved their farm system dramatically with seven prospects, led by second baseman Yoan Moncada, the number two prospect in baseball. He had a great spring after a slow start. Pitchers Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Carson Fulmer, Spencer Adam and Zack Burdi may not be far away.

But the best thing for the White Sox this season is there are no expectations. That could mean they could surprise if southpaw Jose Quintana hangs around, along with some other veterans. The improved Cleveland Indians are the top team in the American League Central. The Sox could finish in fourth and as high as third if the Royals and Tigers struggle. Of course, if they continue to deal away veterans the Twins could pass them up.

But I think the Sox have a lock on fourth, and with some good fortune, could finish as high as third. If the White Sox finish at .500, then it is a successful season.

Oh, here are those quiz answers.

  • Michael Martinez topped a grounder to Kris Bryant, who threw a strike to Anthony Rizzo for a Cubs World Series win on Nov. 3, 2016 at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Former Mariner lefty Mike Montgomery recorded his first save in the Cubs victory. The winning pitcher was Aroldis Chapman, who retired the side in order in the ninth after giving up that homer to Rajai Davis in the eighth.
  • Orlando Palmeiro hit a roller to shortstop Juan Uribe, who threw a strike to first baseman Paul Konerko to lead the White Sox to a 1-0 win over the Houston Astros in a four-game sweep on Oct. 26, 2005. Bobby Jenks recorded his second save of the series. The winning pitcher was Freddy Garcia. The Sox win at Minute Maid Park ended an 88-year World Series drought for the South Siders.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .