Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder is truly a Chicago gem – a quaint, cozy spot famed by locals for its unique take on homemade Italian fare. Judging by the crowd of hungry visitors waiting on the steps outside the restaurant’s doors, you would never guess that this restaurant is considered somewhat of a hidden spot to natives; however, compared to its swanky, more popular competitors, CPOG ranks as my top contender for a unique spin on hearty, warming, homemade Italian fare in the city.
My favorite time to visit CPOG is in the dead of winter, when I can retreat to the dimly lit Swedish-pub style hideaway and snuggle into a warm booth to enjoy a meal. I suggest only going with one other person, allowing you to partake in what I’ve deemed “the classic split” – splitting a half-size of the house salad, one Mediterranean bread (regular or whole wheat) and one pot pie. Accompanied by a flight of dressings – all of which are made in-house – the salad pairs perfectly with the incredibly-seasoned flatbread.
While I visit time and time again for their salad and flatbread combo, that’s not to say that their unique take on the classic pizza falls short of perfection. Servers cover the spud with a ceramic bowl as it’s transported directly from oven to table. Upon arrival, the bowl is lifted and the fragrant smells of cheese, fresh tomato, garlic & a blend of seasonings pull forks and knives, if by will, to dig into delicious paradise.