Whew! That felt good to get off my chest. Because I’m from Chicago, most everyone assumes that I must love Chicago-style pizza, which isn’t the case. Sure, I’ve had it dozens of times, but that’s only because I am a fan of eating, and that typically trumps any so-so feelings I may have about what I’m inhaling. Come to think of it, that’s exactly why I’m not a deep dish gal. I become nauseated after just a few slices. That gooey, cheesy goodness is amazing going down… until it settles into my stomach like a pile of bricks. I hate feeling hungry, but being overfull is even worse.
Luckily, this hasn’t been an issue since moving to California. Los Angeles has its own eating culture. I know of just a few decent pizza places around town, all of which serve New York-style slices; however, LA abounds with Mexican and Asian-inspired eateries. And raw restaurants. And In-N-Out. So when you can’t stomach one more sea vegetable salad, just grab a double-double cheeseburger animal style instead.
Yet not too long ago a friend said that she wanted to celebrate her birthday at an “authentic” Chicago-style pizza joint. She had mentioned the restaurant Masa before, and I’ll admit that my curiosity was piqued as to whether it could actually replicate this staple of Chicago cuisine. I may not love deep dish pizza, but that doesn’t stop me from getting super snobby about it. Alas, the pizzeria was on the other side of town. The only time I’m ever that far east is when I get a jury summons and am forced by law to show up; the odds were slim to none that I would ever be motivated enough to drive there and see if it had the goods. However, it’s an unspoken rule that we each get to call the shots when our birthday rolls around, so Chicago-style pizza it would be. I prepared by fasting the day of to ensure that my belly would be grateful to have anything filling it by that evening.
Masa was packed. Though as strange as this may sound, I love crowded restaurants. Maybe it’s because subconsciously I know they must have pretty good food if so many people want it. Or perhaps it’s the positive energy of people relaxing and enjoying themselves with friends and family. Whatever it is, I dig it. Plus, I was there with some of my best friends, so the night was off to a very positive start.
Soon enough our entire party had arrived and were served the restaurant’s complimentary bread. Have I mentioned how much I love complimentary anything? Free bread, free chips and salsa, those little mints at the hostess counter… I am on it like white on rice. And even though I would probably shop there anyway, it doesn’t hurt that Trader Joe’s has at least two free sample tables every time I pick up groceries. So yeah, I was quickly becoming a fan of Masa.
Then came the pizzas.
They were ginormous. They were also vegetarian-friendly, so I had my pick of three steaming monstrosities. I eventually decided on the one with the most veggies. More vegetables equaled less cheese and sauce. Less cheese and sauce equaled better odds of dodging indigestion. Per usual, I inhaled it. Couldn’t help myself. Not sure if the food was actually that good, or I just have major willpower issues, but my first slice was gone in less than two minutes. I knew I should have stopped there, but didn’t. Not wanting my carb-fueled serotonin rush to end, I abandoned all restraint and grabbed a second slice. This time it was a solid block of nothing but cheese, sauce and crust; I finished it quicker than the first. I would have happily indulged in a third slab of that deep dish deliciousness except I noticed that no one else was taking another piece. Though my gluttony instincts are strong, my vanity is stronger. I didn’t want to look like a total pig in front of my friends, so instead I waited until I was home to devour another slice. I was even thisclose to eating a fourth. However, food coma finally set in and I crashed before I was able to scarf it down.
Yet miraculously I woke up feeling absolutely fine. No deep dish hangover for this gal. So maybe that’s the key to eating Chicago-style pizza… Just stuff yourself so full that you pass out. It’s much easier to deal with the repercussions of overeating when you’re unconscious. I wish someone had told me this years ago.