No, this isn’t deja vu, but two classic Chicago tastes will soon combine in an unorthodox manner. Jewish landmark Manny’s Deli is collaborating with one of the city’s best tavern-style pizza makers, Crust Fund Pizza, for two Chicago-style thin-crust pies available one-day only.
The first offering, the Roosevelt, uses Manny’s new smoked pastrami, an item created for its 80th birthday (the original pastrami is oven baked). It’s a fun twist on the original. Crust Fund Pizza’s John Carruthers is tweaking his dough, adding rye to give the pizza that nostalgic Jewish deli taste.
“I just love the depth of flavor,” says Carruthers, whose day job (and select nights) has him tweeting from Revolution Brewing’s official social media account.
Those tweets are how he connected with Manny’s, as the deli also has a prolific social media presence. Manny’s Dan Raskin invited Carruthers to the restaurant’s 80th birthday as the two began plotting a team-up. They would have figured out logistics at the party, but the event saw an unexpected guest, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who required a little bit of unexpected attention. Regardless, Crust Fund and Manny’s have brokered a partnership.
“You don’t think of tavern-style pizza of just eating the crust,” Carruthers says. “That’s what I’m aiming for with the Roosevelt.”
The Roosevelt features that rye crust, a swiss-mozzarella blend, and pickled mustard seeds. The second pizza, Mann in an Alley, uses the Rye base with braised oxtail, pickled carrot, sweet and sour cabbage, crispy onion, and celery salt. Carruthers had other ideas, including using chicken liver as a topping. Perhaps he’ll save that for the future.
Crust Fund is a pop-up that Carruthers started during the pandemic. He bakes a small number of pizzas about once a month available for order via Instagram. It’s a free for all with pizzas selling out in a matter of minutes. The last drop, a tribute to the gym shoe sandwich, sold out in less than 30 seconds, Carruthers says. The enterprise isn’t a business, Carruthers picks a charity, and collects money from orders to donate. The pizzas are picked up all on one day outside his North Side home through an alley. Last year, Crust Fund earned an Eater Chicago Award for Best Pop-Up.
Previous charities include non-profit news organizations like Block Club Chicago and Injustice Watch. For this collaboration, they picked the Illinois Restaurant Association Education Foundation where Raskin sits on the board. The group invests in youth interested in working in the restaurant industry.
Ordering will open up on Halloween, Monday, October 31. Pizza pickup is Thursday, November 3. After the pizzas sell out, Carruthers will auction off the last pie to generate more money for the charity of the month.