Some of the city’s top pizzerias are experimenting with their menus during a pandemic which has shaken consumer confidence when it comes to indoor dining. For example, Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream in Bridgeport shifted from thicker Sicilian-style pizzas to thin-cut tavern style, as the Tribune reports — ownership felt thin and crispy held up better after transport during the winter.
Over in Logan Square, Derrick Tung has been trying out new ideas for the past year at Paulie Gee’s. Not only did he install a display case to add a pickup window to his business, he also began serving New York-style pizzas which are famously durable. Paulie Gee’s New Neapolitan pies, which originated in Brooklyn, are meant to be immediately consumed out of the wood-fired oven. Serious pizza makers scoff at the notion of takeout or delivery. But seriousness gives way to survival during a pandemic.
Tung, who was already looking to open location that concentrated on serving slices, has recently opened a second location in Wicker Park. The slice shop also has a pickup window facing the busy North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection and focuses on New York-style pies. They’ll have a selection of 13 and toppings like sausage and pepperoni — which wasn’t available from the space’s past tenant, Bonci — are available. But chef Tony Dezutter, who is managing partner with William Ravert, also wants to experiment. One pie is called “I’ll Pork You,” and comes topped with citrus-roasted pork pineapple habanero sauce, cilantro sauce, garlic, pickled red onions, and mozzarella.
Vegans and vegetarians will find pizza options. The shop will also serve breakfast sandwiches served on a ciabatta bun with scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, and sausage. Other toppings include bacon jam. They’ll also considering offering and egg substitute to veganize the item. There’s also fried potato wedges for a complete meal on mornings from Friday through Sunday.
Whole pies will be available to go, but don’t expect to find Detroit-style squares. That appears to be a Logan Square exclusive. For now, Logan Square will also serve New York style, though Tung says he’ll eventually make those pizzas only available in Wicker Park; he wants to keep his shops unique. For Wicker Park, a neighborhood that hasn’t had N.Y.-style slices since Santullo’s closed a few years ago, it’s a welcome addition to a neighborhood that counts Piece, Lou Malnati’s, Dimo’s, Knead, Happy Camper, and Craft pizza.
Chicago is a much more welcoming place for different pizza styles compared to New York. Places like Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe are praised for its tasty N.Y.-style slices. But still, Chicago has scant spots for those big and foldable slices. Thankfully, Wicker Park now has a contender. The city’s second Paulie Gee’s location is now open. Just make sure to warm up that pizza in the oven at home before enjoying. Tung insists.
Paulie Gee’s Wicker Park, (773) 661-6793, 1566 N. Damen Avenue, open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. Online ordering for carryout via Toast and delivery via Grubhub.