Want to start a fight with someone from Chicago? Just ask them where they go for deep-dish pizza. Maybe it's Lou Malnati's, or Gino's, or possibly Uno's — but only if it's the original Uno's, not the chain (of course).
The fact is most Chicagoans would probably rather pay good money to ship in a pizza than try to order one in Washington, D.C.
"As a city, we kind of suck at deep-dish," said Tom Madrecki, a D.C. chef who grew-up in Chicago and is hoping to introduce Washington to both the thin-crust and deep-dish pizzas of his hometown with his new pop-up, Vin & Vic's.
A signature deep-dish is known for its buttery, flaky crust. It also has a thick layer of cheese and toppings, such as mushrooms, green pepper, green olives, onions, pepperoni, or sausage. Most importantly, it's covered with a slightly sweet tomato sauce on top, then baked inside a gas oven.
"When most people think of Chicago deep-dish pizza, they think of it as a heavy, stewed tomato-based pizza," Madrecki said. "It's also cooked in a pie pan and takes longer to cook, but if you eat one or two pieces of pie, it will easily satisfy your hunger. Personally, my favorite pizza is Chicago thin crust pizza. It's an almost paper-thin crust that's purposefully cooked to a crispy char and lightly sauced."
Madrecki is serving both options at Vin & Vic's. Pizza is served every Friday and Saturday night at Capitol Lounge. "With this pop-up, I'd like to think that we're intentionally trying to confront two aspects of D.C. dining... a lot of crappy, over-priced wine... and a lot of soggy Neapolitan style pizza."
Along with Chicago pizza, there is a list of rare, natural wines, something that's a bit of a departure for a place like Capitol Lounge, which prides itself on Midwestern beers, like Great Lakes and Bell's.
Vin & Vics is definitely not the first place in D.C. to offer Chicago deep dish pizza. But, if you ask Madrecki, he'll tell you there's always room for improvement.
Places like Armand's, he says, advertise Chicago deep-dish, when in reality the crust is too doughy and thick, in his opinion. The only place Madrecki considers a contender for Chicago pizza is actually a St. Louis-based pizza company, Pi Pizzeria, which recently opened a second location in Bethesda and was at one point rumored to be a favorite of President Obama. Pi serves both deep-dish and thin-crust pizza, and St. Louis-style pizza is considered to be a regional style of its own.
Others in D.C. prefer the Chicago pizza served at Alberto's in Dupont Circle.
"Wether it's thin crust or deep-dish, it can be really hard to find that Chicago style," Madrecki says. "For me, this is about sharing something that I love and hope others will learn to love."
Where to Find Deep-Dish Now:
Alberto’s, Dupont Circle
Armand’s, Multiple Locations
Pi Pizzeria, Penn Quarter and Bethesda (St. Louis-style)
Vin & Vic’s, at Capitol Lounge, Capitol Hill