Revival Food Hall’s next pop-up involves pizzas and ABC Chicago’s Hungry Hound. Next week the popular lunch destination will unveil Pizza City, a vendor with rotating pizzerias picked by Chicago food personality Steve Dolinsky. Pizza City debuts Monday and replaces Union Squared which closes on Friday. My Pi, Pat’s Pizza, Dante’s, and Palermo’s 95th will serve pizzas at different times this year.
The pop-up’s name comes from the title of Dolinsky’s book, a guide to the city’s pizzerias released last year. The Pizza City USA brand includes tours run by Dolinsky and wife Amy Dordek. The pop-up will also give Dolinsky a downtown pick-up point making the tours more accessible to tourists staying at downtown hotels. Like many food critiques, The book has rubbed some restaurant owners the wrong way.
My Pi, the celebrated Bucktown deep-dish specialist, will debut on Monday. It’ll offer the lunchtime crowd 7-inch personal deep-dish pizzas in cheese, sausage, and pepperoni. Other toppings could be added. Customers could also order whole pies to go for dinner after work.
“The thing about My Pi is those slices keep their shape and form much better than a stuffed pie would which will leak out oil with the cheese,” Dolinsky said.
When Revival opened in 2016, owners Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden (who are also behind 16” on Center, the company that owns places including Empty Bottle, Dusek’s/Thalia Hall, and Ruin Daily) said they wanted to give customers a tour through the city’s neighborhoods. Golden is also a part-owner of Union, the pizzeria vacating the hall.
Finkelman approached Dolinsky, who sat out to give downtown a true sampling of Chicago’s pizzas. Many Loop workers commute from the suburbs. Tourists may not have a lot of time. Both groups may not have the chance to explore South or Northwest side neighborhoods, especially those areas where Chicago-style thin crust pizzas reign supreme. There also aren’t many places nearby that serve tavern-style pizzas. That’s the square- and triangle-cut pies that many argue truly represent Chicago.
That’s why Dolinsky is bringing tavern-style specialist Pat’s Pizza to Revival starting on June 17. Revival tries to quickly serve customers who don’t have much time to dine during the work week. But selling tavern-style pizza by the slice isn’t an option. The pizza’s designed to be a snack, something to munch on while bellying up at a bar with a few beers. Also, the middle pieces don’t offer the same satisfying crispy crunch as the outer pieces. That’s why Dolinsky said Pat’s will sell quarter pizzas.
After Pat’s turn finishes, Dante’s Pizza will take over the space on September 16. The Logan Square pizzeria will serve N.Y.-style slices and 20-inch pies to go. Geographical diversity was also important to Dolinsky, he said. That’s why on December 16, the pop-up will bring Palermo’s 95th to the Loop. That’s the suburban Oak Lawn spot that serves thin crust pies with the sweeter sauce South Side restaurants like Aurelio’s have popularized.
Dolinsky doesn’t operate the pop-up, he only curates the pizzerias. He said that he received approval from his bosses at ABC Chicago. He didn’t say if they were worried about a specific ethical dilemma. Besides exposure for his book and tour, he said he didn’t receive additional compensation. The pizzerias will receive exposure, with the hope Revival customers will visit their restaurants, and a split of sales. It’s the same arrangement other vendors have with Revival, said food hall GM Tim Wickes.
Dolinsky wants Loop workers to discover pizzas that haven’t tried and give pizzeria owners and opportunity to attract business back to their restaurants. Neapolitan pizzas wouldn’t work; the Blodgett pizza oven at Revival only rises to 650 degrees. Neapolitan pies are baked in temperatures of at least 700 degrees, but preferably 1,000 degrees. The trip downtown with parking was too much for some pizzeria owners, so they eliminated others. Selecting the right pizzerias wasn’t easy.
“I love the challenge, I love the idea,” Dolinsky said. “I’m always lamenting the fact that it’s really difficult for tourists to get to those neighborhood pizza places.”
The Pizza City pop-up debuts on Monday with My Pi at Revival Food Hall.