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A slice of Chicago

Lefty's, Regents, Chicago Bros., Berkeley, Chicago Pizza

Regents Pizzeria. Great flowing gobs of cheese, studded with great gobs of sausage — seriously big chunks. - Image by Matthew Suárez
Regents Pizzeria. Great flowing gobs of cheese, studded with great gobs of sausage — seriously big chunks.

You don’t “grab a slice,” you order it and then settle in. Check your phone. Read a novella. There is no getting around the time it takes until — as the Regents Pizzeria reheating instructions put it — “the cheese is re-animated.” No one of these is “best”; there are few enough that there is no need for that sort of thing. What they are is different, despite their common form and topping (sausage).

Place

Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria

4030 Goldfinch Street, San Diego

Place

Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria

3448 30th Street, San Diego

Slice: $4.31. Besides pizza, Chicago is famous for pretzels, and durned if you don’t pick up a hint of that in the crust here: slightly stiff, even more slightly bitter. This is not a criticism: the bready crust, with its even, aerated consistency throughout, is the big deal here. It gets support from a smattering of sauce showing good acidic tang, chewy (and gently salty) cheese, and wonderfully porky sausage.

Place

Regents Pizzeria

4150 Regents Park Row, San Diego

Slice: $5.25. So much cheese — buttery, stringy, weighty — between those two layers of dough. Great flowing gobs of cheese, studded with great gobs of sausage — seriously big chunks, with a correspondingly big grind, and the most sweet-fat flavor in the meat of all those tried. Sauce up top is plentiful and roasty but unexceptional. What is exceptional is the crust down below, blessed with an ironclad crispness that bears its cheesy load with ease. Yes, it explodes into a mini-loaf of supermarket Italian bread at the edge, but by then its work is finished.

Place

Chicago Brothers Pizzeria

10423 San Diego Mission Rd, San Diego

Slice: $3.75. They bake a couple of deep-dishes for slices each day and that’s it, so maybe call ahead. And even so, you run the risk of time taking its toll. Fresh out of the oven, Chicago Bros. crust is a crisp pastry marvel, practically snapping under your teeth as you bite down, but showing a becoming flakiness at the edge. A dinnertime slice may show a touch of sog in places, the generous layer of gooey cheese having its way. Sauce is sweetish, sausage is spongy but plentiful.

Place

Berkeley Pizza North Park

3934 30th Street, San Diego

Place

Berkeley Pizza

539 Island Street, San Diego

Slice: $4.25. It says it right there on the sign: “Radical pizza, made with fresh local herbs.” “This is not your Establishment Midwest deep-dish pizza, okay, man? We’ll put one lonely sausage chunk on top of the sauce as a distraction and embed the rest below, like an underground movement. We’ll back off the cheese and load up the sauce with diced tomatoes and fresh basil, like some kind of Italian salsa. And we’ll put it all on a pastry crust, the kind you might expect to find under a spinach quiche.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Place

Chicago Pizza Company

8528 N Magnolia Avenue, Santee

Slice: no slices here, but a six-inch personal deep-dish one-topping is $13. (It’s more like two-personal.) Thick rounds of dense, complicated, fennelly sausage, curled and crisped by the oven’s heat. Cheese is more creamy than buttery, creamy and thick. The sauce has a dark, tomato-paste intensity to stand against the relatively heavy dose of oregano in play. It’s good, but what’s great is the cornmeal-dusted crust. More than any of the others, it manages that delicate balance of firm but tender, chewy but not tough — though it does get overwhelmed at the pie’s center.

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Regents Pizzeria. Great flowing gobs of cheese, studded with great gobs of sausage — seriously big chunks. - Image by Matthew Suárez
Regents Pizzeria. Great flowing gobs of cheese, studded with great gobs of sausage — seriously big chunks.

You don’t “grab a slice,” you order it and then settle in. Check your phone. Read a novella. There is no getting around the time it takes until — as the Regents Pizzeria reheating instructions put it — “the cheese is re-animated.” No one of these is “best”; there are few enough that there is no need for that sort of thing. What they are is different, despite their common form and topping (sausage).

Place

Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria

4030 Goldfinch Street, San Diego

Place

Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria

3448 30th Street, San Diego

Slice: $4.31. Besides pizza, Chicago is famous for pretzels, and durned if you don’t pick up a hint of that in the crust here: slightly stiff, even more slightly bitter. This is not a criticism: the bready crust, with its even, aerated consistency throughout, is the big deal here. It gets support from a smattering of sauce showing good acidic tang, chewy (and gently salty) cheese, and wonderfully porky sausage.

Place

Regents Pizzeria

4150 Regents Park Row, San Diego

Slice: $5.25. So much cheese — buttery, stringy, weighty — between those two layers of dough. Great flowing gobs of cheese, studded with great gobs of sausage — seriously big chunks, with a correspondingly big grind, and the most sweet-fat flavor in the meat of all those tried. Sauce up top is plentiful and roasty but unexceptional. What is exceptional is the crust down below, blessed with an ironclad crispness that bears its cheesy load with ease. Yes, it explodes into a mini-loaf of supermarket Italian bread at the edge, but by then its work is finished.

Place

Chicago Brothers Pizzeria

10423 San Diego Mission Rd, San Diego

Slice: $3.75. They bake a couple of deep-dishes for slices each day and that’s it, so maybe call ahead. And even so, you run the risk of time taking its toll. Fresh out of the oven, Chicago Bros. crust is a crisp pastry marvel, practically snapping under your teeth as you bite down, but showing a becoming flakiness at the edge. A dinnertime slice may show a touch of sog in places, the generous layer of gooey cheese having its way. Sauce is sweetish, sausage is spongy but plentiful.

Place

Berkeley Pizza North Park

3934 30th Street, San Diego

Place

Berkeley Pizza

539 Island Street, San Diego

Slice: $4.25. It says it right there on the sign: “Radical pizza, made with fresh local herbs.” “This is not your Establishment Midwest deep-dish pizza, okay, man? We’ll put one lonely sausage chunk on top of the sauce as a distraction and embed the rest below, like an underground movement. We’ll back off the cheese and load up the sauce with diced tomatoes and fresh basil, like some kind of Italian salsa. And we’ll put it all on a pastry crust, the kind you might expect to find under a spinach quiche.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Place

Chicago Pizza Company

8528 N Magnolia Avenue, Santee

Slice: no slices here, but a six-inch personal deep-dish one-topping is $13. (It’s more like two-personal.) Thick rounds of dense, complicated, fennelly sausage, curled and crisped by the oven’s heat. Cheese is more creamy than buttery, creamy and thick. The sauce has a dark, tomato-paste intensity to stand against the relatively heavy dose of oregano in play. It’s good, but what’s great is the cornmeal-dusted crust. More than any of the others, it manages that delicate balance of firm but tender, chewy but not tough — though it does get overwhelmed at the pie’s center.

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Comments
1

Lefty's is the real deal if you like Chicago style: friendly people as well. Regent's is an OPEC pizza-full of grease. Avoid Berkeley delivery: they "forget" to inform you that they deliver by bicycle, it takes nearly two hours to get to your home and your pizza is a pile of cheese and dough resembling the makings of a pie but not an edible pizza.

Aug. 11, 2017

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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