Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dear Old Buffo's and Chicago Pizza

When I was a first year seminary student back in the fall of 95 one of my co-workers in the library invited me to come to a group that met at a restaurant in Highwood, a little Hispanic/Italian community nestled between Lake Forest and Highland Park. The group was called Stammtisch, a German word for a table reserved for regular customers or a club table (or a "table of cronies" according to my German-English dictionary). The group was very loosely organized by one of the seminary professors and was devoted to sitting around and talking theology or philosophy or whatever, over pizza, beer, and clove cigarettes. I didn't like beer then and don't smoke, but the pizza was incredible. It was double decker; basically two thin crust pizzas laid one on top of the other with the crust rolled together at the back of the slice. To this day my favorite pizza is a double decker from Buffo's or from Bill's Pub in Mundelein. I really prefer Bill's because of the decor and ambiance but Buffo's is nice for the memories of eating there every Thursday for about two years. Eventually the Stammtisch migrated to The Silo, a restaurant in Lake Bluff that served more traditional Chicago-style pizza, and then disbanded. When I lived at the synagogue I was just a few blocks from Buffo's and occasionally we'd get takeout but we didn't eat there often. Since I moved up to Vernon Hills in 2000 I've probably not been to Buffo's more than twice. Tonight I joined Kit and Robyn and Corban, their 7 month old, former roommate/synagogue boy Steve R. and his girlfriend Natalie, and a couple of Kit's family friends and their daughter. It was like old times sitting around basking in the glory of double decker pizza and buckin' hot sauce with Kit and Steve and few friends. We ate outside, which was different from old times, and I had Leinie's Red instead of pepsi, also different, but it was great. The weather was sunny and cool, just nice. Kit got a Buffo's t-shirt to go along with the other t-shirts he's been amassing on vacation and a good time was had by all.

Regarding Jenn's question about pizza we've got all the basic national pizza chains up here. We've got Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Little Caesar's, Chuck E. Cheese. As far as I know none of them are hurting for business. But the real pizza power around here is with places like Giordano's, Gino's East, Lou Malnati's, Rosati's, The Silo, Pizzaria Uno or Due that serve the authentic Chicago Style deep dish. Obviously people have their preferences maybe liking Uno's personal size pizza or Gino's unique crust or Lou's sheet of sausage that covers the face of the pizza beneath the sauce. It seems like they've all won awards, enough so that I have at times wondered if there are just so many pizza cookoffs that everybody gets to win one. But they're definitely all good. Like I said in the earlier comment thread, the typical deep dish Chicago pizza has a thick bready crust overlaid with toppings and cheese and then topped off with crushed tomatos. My guesstimate is that it's 2-3" thick and is cut in wedges. There's also a thin crust Chicago style that has a very thin crisp crust overlaid with sauce, toppings and cheese and cut into little squares. It's usually very greasy. This is the typical thin crust pizza that you will get in bars or regional chains around here and it's also very good. As for Jenn's question of whether she'll get up here, eat at Gino's and be ruined for Pizza Hut, I think that's a risk well worth taking. Nevertheless I still like almost any style pizza from the cafeteria pizzas we had in school to frozen pizzas to Papa John's or Domino's to something classic like Gino's or quirky like Bill's or Buffo's or the Basil's special at Bill's Pizza in Northfield. If you say to me, "Let's go get some pizza for supper. It's on me and money's no object," sure we're going to Bill's or Gino's or The Silo. If it's late and we're hanging out and want to order a thin crust pizza to snack we're calling Kaiser's or Pizza Italia, but if somebody says, "Hey! Let's go to Pizza Hut!" I'm fine with that. It's not all it could be but I like what it is. A place like Domino's won't make your mouth as happy as Buffo's or Kaiser's but it won't give you quite the same greasy cheese lump in your stomach either. Sometimes there's a price to pay for the deliciousness that goes beyond money. Ambience also plays a large part in my pizza preferneces. It's not quite as much fun to eat at Gino's in Libertyville where you can walk in and be seated right away as it was to eat after waiting in line on Ontario St. to get in and be able to sign your name on the wall of the Gino's downtown. There's something about throwing peanut shells at your friends and looking at the stuffed animals in Bill's Pub, drinking oatmeal stout in the loft of The Silo, discussing free will and determinism while watching the Bulls play, sniffing the clove smoke, and eating a chocolate chip cookie as big as a scone at Buffo's, an associative memory that makes the pizza that much better. For that matter the same thing happens when you eat at an old synagogue/church at Joe Bologna's in Lexington or getting a Bill's Special at Basil's and the next week getting a Basil's Special at Bill's while you teach someone to hair wrestle at midnight on a Wednesday in Northfield. Pizza's pizza and among the chief of things for which we should thank God regurlarly. The way it is around here is what it should be but that other stuff's okay too. It's pizza.

31 comments:

annalu alulu said...

Lovely.

The corn of entrees.

What is hair wrestling?

Jenn Hacker said...

Yummmmmmmm.......... Pizza is ambrosia in this house. It's one of the main food groups for us!
I'm looking forward to authentic Chicago-style pizza (I'm more of a thick-crust person, but I'll try the thin crust, too!)

Tara said...

Everett, Tell them about when you and I and Jim went to Gino's East. I can't remember the story.

Jenn Hacker said...

What does "the corn of entrees" mean? I don't get it.

annalu alulu said...

one time everett said corn was "the pizza of vegetables." so i said pizza was "the corn of entrees." now you get it.

Becca said...

We are lucky enough to have Rosati's out here, and they get a good deal of my business. They have this awesome roast beef and mozzarella sandwich, served wet, and they do the Chicago style pizza (but you have to call ahead for it, as it ordering the souffle). We've gotten the thin crust style in squares several times, and while it is incredibly greasy, it's very very good.

Sounds like good times, Bubba; good times.

Tooz said...

Now I'm hungry, and there isn't a pizza in the house. We ate all the ones Ann left here. I think I know what we're having for supper. Love to all.

Tooz said...

YES!!!We are having pizza for supper! Love to all.

Everett said...

When Jim and Tara came to visit back in the fall of 98 we went downtown and ate at Gino's East on Ontario (since closed :( ). We had a waitress that was a little too enthusiastic. Jim thought she was hitting me. I thought she was trying to give some local color for the out of town visitors and fishing for a bigger tip. I don't remember what all she did. I asked for the largest pepsi they had and she brought me a drink in a caraffe with one straw stuck in another so I could drink it. She was generally dramatic and said something about being loved. She emphatically rejected Jim's attempt at paying by check saying, "G-d no. This is Chicago." That's about all I remember.

Everett said...

Where'd y'all eat, mom?

annalu alulu said...

Everett, your innocence with the dating game is starting to show. The phrase is "hitting on me" not "hitting me". I love you.

Becca said...

I was gonna say--I'd think you would definitely know if she were hitting you.

(pfykg--I'm trying to lose one right now.)

annalu alulu said...

pfykg? puffy keg?

where's jamie?

eswjen (that's the answer to my complicated riddle...today's word verification)

Becca said...

I was thinking puffy kilogram, but keg could work too.

Do you mean Jamie, my sister? She doesn't have a blog. But between caring for her kids, her new husband, his kids, and starting her new job as an RN, I doubt she has much time. I think she finally got her computer hooked back up at her house.

Tooz said...

We ate Papa John's in the living room. We ordered 2 larges (one sausage/pepperoni, and one meat-lover's), ate one, and are finishing up the other one today. It was good. Real good.

Lydia said...

Okay, I must confess--yes, I grew up in the same house with our favorite pizza lovers, Tooz, Mr.Diggin, Bubba and Annaluru, but--please don't throw stones--
I don't care for the stuff. AGGHH!
I eat pizza maybe 2 or 3 times a year if I can help it. I will say that I do enjoy a calizone, as often times they come without the sauce in them, but pizza never gets my vote for what to eat, unless its between that and Krystals.


I DON"T BELIEVE IT!!!!! BABY GIRL'S NAME IS ACTUALLY A WORD VERIFICATION TODAY!!!!!

Wofk Qayx

annalu alulu said...

I like pizza, but I had friends at EKU who would eat it every day if they could (so, often, they did). I could definitely eat it once a month, but maybe not even once a week. Anyway, becca, I probably spelled Jamethan's nickname wrong. I was trying to say, "where's jamie," "he's with Jen". Boo. Too bad I threw out a bag of rotten tomatos last week, I could have used them to chuck at myself right now.

Jim said...

Wow. I had pretty much forgotten about that waitress. Perhaps it is a repressed memory. Anyway, now that you bring it up, I vaguely remember the incident. I also remember Tara being awfully sick and not able to do something one of the nights in Chicago, or was that on a different trip?

Jenn Hacker said...

Jamie was at Papaw's last week, then I went and got him for the weekend (hence me not blogging all weekend - I was playing with my boy). Took Jamie back to Papaw's for this week, get him back Friday night. YAY!!!!! If it weren't for the fact that my babysitter is on a mission trip, Jamie wouldn't be at Papaw's at all! I miss the little guy. Very sad now...

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling Bubba still doesn't know when someone's hitting on him to this day...

annalu alulu said...

On the fifth day of the pizza post, my sister said to me, "Pooooost some-thing newwwwwww."

(four posts on Jim's)

(three girl jabs)

(two Winner books)

(And a phone call in two days pendiiiiiing.)

Jenn Hacker said...

LOL, Ann! Bubba won't be posting today, as he has already stated he'll probably have a "Case of the Mondays". Is there a prescription for that? LOL!

Jenn Hacker said...

I think I have found Everett's blogging theme song for Mondays:

Monday, Monday
Can't trust that day
Monday, Monday
Sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh, Monday morning you gave me no warning
Of what was to be
Oh, Monday, Monday
How could you leave and not take me

Every other day
Every other day
Every other day of the week is fine (fine), yeah
But whenever Monday comes
But whenever Monday comes
You can find me crying all of the time


So, is this what is considered a "case of the Mondays"?

Lydia said...

Okay, everett, I see you're missing in action once again. Get over Mondays! Get blogging!

I love you!
Sip

A faithful friend said...

bubba, you better watch out or they are going to start pooting on your blog. They did it to me.

annalu alulu said...

Bubba, Monday's over, so tell us about your weekend, or something! We like to know all good things of Bubba.

I wasn't gonna do this, but since somebody suggested it, I'm up for the challenge.

Poot. Poot.

Jenn Hacker said...

Bubba got a promotion. Maybe he should blog about that! Or blog about training the person who is going to be filling his old position. Or something!

Jenn Hacker said...

I'll gladly pay you next Tuesday for a blog entry today!!!!!

Pop-Quiz!: What cartoon character did I just parody?

Tooz said...

Looks like we both have a case of blog burnout. Love you.

Tooz said...

Jennifer, the answer is Wimpy, from the Popeye cartoon and comic strip.

And Bubba, why didn't you tell us about your promotion?

annalu alulu said...

I think we talked about it in Illinois over ice cream.

But I agree that you have plenty to blog about.

I guess you're busy making more stuff to blog about, i.e., living an interesting life.

I'm pretty sure I'm just jealous.
:-)