Armed with an extra oven and the blessings of the family of founder Burt Katz, Burt’s Place is ready to open at 4:30 p.m. Friday in suburban Morton Grove. The deep-dish pizzeria, a descendent of Pequod’s, had been closed for two years due to Katz’s faltering health. Katz, a character known for the quality of his pizzas and his long, white beard, died in April 2016.
Jerry Petrow and John Munao bought the restaurant, and have been determined to replicate Katz’s quality. They’re newcomers to the food world, but they’re using the same pans as Katz, according to the Tribune, which first reported news of the opening. Though respectful of the 26-year legacy of the restaurant, the duo have made a few additions to the menu (see below). The highlights are the expanded wine and draft beer list. Wine is available by the bottle and the glass, and the most-expensive choice is the Brunello di Montalcino, Molino di Sant’Antimo 2011 for $68.
Petrow also noted that they’re offering crumbled sausage as a topping. It’s an addition to the traditional “hockey puck” sausage topping Burt’s Place has always offered. Fret not, it’s the same type of encased meat used previously.
Katz’s daughter, Andi Bannister, was one of the testers who tried Petrow and Munao’s pizzas as the owners practiced making pies. She told the Tribune that the two learned a lot from Katz, who sold the restaurant in May before he passed away. Bannister also complimented the pizza: “It was really real good,” she told the paper.
Customers will need to make their orders 24 hours in advance, as the restaurant’s call-ahead policy, which mandates customers to place their dine-in orders before arriving, is still in place. However, there’s thoughts of “relaxing” that policy after opening, when staff grows into a routine and they become more efficient, Petrow said. They have two ovens now, and double the capacity should mean less of a wait. Oh, and a reminder: Burt’s has jumped into the 21st Century and accepts credit cards. That should ruffle the feathers of some purists.
By now, everyone knows that Burt’s Place soared into the spotlight after the pizzeria appeared on a 2009 TV episode of No Reservations. That’s when he miraculously charmed the taste buds of notorious Chicago deep-dish pizza hater Anthony Bourdain. Katz also co-founded Pequod’s, which is known for its caramelized crispy crusts. He has been memorialized on the new menu via a cartoon caricature complete with that memorable beard.
Take a look at the menu below and stay tuned for more as one of the Chicago area’s most-beloved pizzerias returns.