Chicago-Style Pizza Comes to New York; Here's How to Better Understand Deep Dish

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Nick Lucchesi
Emmett's Deep Dish.
Emmett's (50 Macdougal Street, 917-639-3571) has been open and serving Chicago-style deep dish pizza right here in New York for about two months now. Seeing as I'm from Chicago, I decided to give it a try and pass along my thoughts. Now, this is the easy part, because all I had to do was go there and eat it. What's more difficult is presenting Chicago-style pizza in the proper context, for it may be the most misunderstood food product in the entire world.

So, here are some things you should know about Chicago-style pizza:

1. Deep Dish Pizza Isn't a Thing Chicagoans Eat All the Time

It's actually quite flattering that people think Chicagoans are hearty enough to casually snack on these birthday-cake-sized wheels of decadence. Sadly, we only have five feet of large intestine, just like everyone else.

Deep dish is a version of pizza that's reserved for cravings or special occasions, like entertaining friends or relatives from out of town. Thin crust (cut in squares) is the most commonly consumed style of pizza in Chicago, and it's terrific.

Still, it's very nice to have the thick stuff as an option.

2. We Really Don't Care About the New York Pizza vs. Deep Dish "Feud"

Chicagoans have a unique brand of civic pride that can be construed as "insecurity" when it comes to New York. I love both cities. Still, as someone who grew up in downtown Chicago, I am occasionally prone to bouts of competitiveness that highlight our special brand of big-city provincialism.

For example:

But with pizza, you'll find that we are pretty blasé when it comes to the competition. That's why it was so confusing when Jon Stewart's rant against deep dish got so much attention. Daily Show episodes are inexplicably recapped every morning on the Internet (stop doing this, by the way, it is lazy), but the pizza thing took on a life of its own beyond next-day blog posts. It was one of the show's most passed-around clips of 2013.

Everyone I know from Chicago enjoys New York pizza. There aren't "debates" about this. It's tasty and triangular and I certainly wouldn't kick a slice of it out of bed. It's nice to see that the insecurity seems to be on New York's side here.

You all have very good pizza. Keep up the good work!

3. Deep Dish is Pizza

This seems to be the go-to argument against deep dish: "It's not even pizza!" First of all, stop being a pizza ref, you are better than that. Secondly, it is pizza, just a different variety of pizza. When you cut it, does it not bleed tomato sauce? When you bring it to a party, do people not say, "Yay, pizza"?

Beefier and heavier-duty ingredients don't change the DNA of a food item. Is a hoagie still a sandwich?

Why yes, yes it is.

4. You Don't Have to Like Deep Dish Pizza

Hey, I understand. It's big and heavy and not for amateurs. It has the caloric make-up of a aircraft carrier full of party subs. If you decide it's not for you, no sweat. Feel free to order some tavern-style thin crust instead.

There's that amiable Midwestern disposition that makes Chicago -- and its pizza -- so special.

5. Regarding That Chicago Thin Crust, Cut in Squares: It's Far Better Than New York Pizza

Yeah, I know what I said earlier regarding not caring about the competition and I still don't care because there is no competition.

Chew on that, ya bums.

---

Now onto Emmett's.

Opened by two brothers from the Chicago area, Emmett's doesn't bend over backwards to let you know where it's from. I saw a Cubs sticker and a small Blues Brothers poster on the outside of the restroom door. That's it for Chicago ephemera.

The pizza is qualified as "deep dish," not "Chicago-style" on the menu, and it's really quite good.

Any questions of its "authenticity" are inherently flawed, given there is wide variance within the parameters of deep dish pizza. What makes Emmett's version "deep dish" is that it's cooked in a large, high-walled pan with one layer of dough spread across the bottom and sides, a layer of mozzarella, your choice of toppings, and a thick blanket of tangy tomato sauce.

It is so hot when it arrives at your table that they give you a small hourglass to signal when it's OK to take a bite.

The crust is crispy and delicious, far better than, say, the buttery and wafer-like crust served at Chicago's (vastly overrated) Lou Malnati's. (Esquire recently named Lou Malnati's the country's "most life-changing pizza," which is only true if you happen to be conceiving a child while eating it -- and I'm sure some folks in Chicago have). Emmett's cheese is stringy and salty and clings for its life when a slice is separated from the mother pie.

It's very good pizza that fills you up after just two slices, as it should. I stuffed myself on three slices with pepperoni, sausage, and green pepper and enjoyed every bite.

[@nickgreene]



Location Info

Emmett's

50 Macdougal St., ,

Category: Restaurant

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32 comments
tippi5555
tippi5555

Chicago pizza was in my years there more commonly referred to as stuffed pizza. Some varieties have a thin upper crust below the chunky tomato sauce on top. Another important tip is that for some reason the traditional mix of spinach and mozzarella in Chicago pizzza for some reason makes it taste lighter (Yes, it is the battle star of pizza). Note that this is chopped spinach mixed with the cheese, not a topping per se. Excluding one cities pizza over another is like saying because you like Rome you can't possibly like Paris.

hannahlynnpalmer
hannahlynnpalmer

I'm not even going to engage in the pizza kerfuffle (apples and oranges) and OK, Chicago has a big, sometimes-stinky lake, but New York has ROCKAWAYS. AND FORT TILDEN, among other incredible beaches. And Coney Island far surpasses anything Navy Pier could ever muster in terms of beachfront funtimes. So.

tazloon63
tazloon63

As a life long Chicagoan i couldn't agree more with this article, esp the comment about Lou Malnati's, i'd eat domino's or papa johns before i'd eat that crud.

Ted Cantu
Ted Cantu

LOL... you NY sissies... I knew you guys would trash this.... suck it up

John-Andrew Murphy
John-Andrew Murphy

It's a casserole, not a pizza. But, I have to admit, that I do enjoy this from time to time. Still, it's definitely NOT pizza.

Chris Dearing
Chris Dearing

Not pizza. The novelty wears off after 1 or 2 bites, along with your appetite.

Alirosa
Alirosa

@NickGreene Very nice. But where does it fall on a scale of 1 to Lou Malnati's?

Marti Taylor-Dee
Marti Taylor-Dee

I live near Chicago and the pizza SUCKS! Ny all the way!

Brian Perfect
Brian Perfect

Pizza is like politics and the mob. Chicago stays in Chicago, New York stays in New York.

Paul Lehrman
Paul Lehrman

Not sure what it is, but it isn't pizza. It might be some sort of lasagna if you added some flat pasta. It's as if Tofurkey claimed to be just like a real Thanksgiving turkey. Not.

ErikDavis
ErikDavis

@jhoffman I will join you if only to take a better pic than that. Man, it looks like a sloppy school lunch. Can you tell I'm not a DD fan?

jhoffman
jhoffman

@ErikDavis I had bonafide DD in Chi & came around on it. It's not pizza, it's just delicious Italian Mush.

ErikDavis
ErikDavis

@jhoffman my wife had it in Chicago & LOVED it, but I've just never been a fan. I will try, tho. After some beers? Sure! Before a movie? NO!

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