WTF IS A GRINDER? – Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company

(A good pal of ours was moving from Ottawa to Chicago to do his post-graduate studies at Northwestern University.  My wife and I tagged along for the trip to keep him company for the long 2-day drive.  Well, after a few missteps, we ended up having a blast.  We did the boat tour, the bus tours, Navy Pier, saw a baseball game at Wrigley Field, went to the Cubby Bear bar where all those great punk shows happened way back when, but it was dinner at this place that made it all feel like we had been to Chicago.  We waited over 40 minutes in line to get a table, but it was worth it.  The craziest sandwich I have eaten, the largest salad I have ever seen on one plate, and the pizza pie/pocket thing they got going on is insane.  Here’s what the interweb says about this iconic eatery in Chicago, – FATS)

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company is a restaurant located in Chicago, Illinois. The restaurant was founded in 1972, and specializes in a signature dish called the “pizza pot pie.” It enjoys local popularity and has appeared in many publications and television shows.

2-7-14-Knight_SMC-GarageThere is no knowledge of when the building was first built. It has been speculated that the building had some ties to gentility, but those ties were severed in 1929. The parking garage across the street became known as the location of the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”, the infamous murder of seven rival gang members by Al Capone’s men. It is rumored that the building itself was used as a lookout point for Capone’s gunmen, though there is no concrete evidence to support this theory.

In November 1971 a fire broke out, and burnt the building to the ground. In April 1972, an attorney named Albert H. Beaver purchased the property. Beaver invested $150,000 into renovating the building. Beaver and Charles R. Smital, a carpenter, painted the building with cedar white and yellow pine paint. Beaver wanted to create something new and outstanding, so after searching through cookbooks, he developed his own recipe for what the restaurant is best known for: Pizza pot pie. The same recipe was used when the restaurant opened in 1972. The building that was once rumored to be a lookout point for Capone’s men 80 years ago, now calls itself home to the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company.

lsChicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company is the original creator of their non-traditional inverted dish known as the Pizza Pot Pie. The same recipe has been used since the restaurant first opened in 1972. It is “made up from scratch” with a tripled-raised Sicilian bread type of dough. The pizza pot pie includes plum tomato sauces, sausage made from Boston butts, button-sized mushrooms and cheese inside the crust. They also have a vegetarian option that includes the option of white or wheat crust. The Pizza Pot Pie has individual servings that come in two sizes: half-pound or one-pound.

5391557698_e67ee2589bIn addition to their Pizza Pot Pies, they have a variety of salad dinners and sub sandwiches known as grinders. One of the grinders they are known for is the “Italian Combination” that comes in an Italian loaf. The grinders also come in a vegetarian option that includes mushrooms, egg plant, peppers, olives and three kinds of cheeses. The “Salad Dinners” are large portions of salads. Another well known menu item is the “Mediterranean Bread.”

1DmvbVtvIX0a3HChicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company has garnered some acclaim from various food critics and news outlets, not only for their pizzas, but also the company’s sandwiches, with CBS Chicago naming their oven grinder as one of the best sandwiches available in the city. The signature pizza dish, the pizza pot pie has also received favorable reviews from various outlets, many of them noting the generous portions. This praise for portions is not limited only to their pizza pot pies, but also the restaurant’s sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. The restaurant has become famous enough on a local level that it has appeared in such Food Network shows as Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels. Food Network, star Marc Murphy has commented on the pizza saying, “one bite of the pizza pot pie at Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company and it was instantly deserving of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”