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What happened to Pequod's Pizza... [+ Burt's Place]

What happened to Pequod's Pizza... [+ Burt's Place]
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  • - April 7th, 2006, 12:17 am
    - April 7th, 2006, 12:17 am Post #31 - April 7th, 2006, 12:17 am
    A fine idea, BuddyRoadhouse. As it happened, Cathy2 and I were casting about for a dinner plan yesterday. I had just returned from a pizza shut out in New Haven and Providence (a tale too sad to tell), and she took pity on me. So we headed out to Morton Grove with your suggestion in mind. A head-to-head comparison of the two is recounted below, with photos by Cathy2.

    Ever professional, Cathy2 resisted my attempt to sidetrack her into a pop at the corner bar, The Bringer Inn. But which pizza to try first? The primo parking spot in front of Burt's made that an easy decision. And then, suddenly, we were in Wisconsin, or another Place That Time Forgot. And I mean that in a good way. It seems that Burt is a collector of Hamm Radios and other stuff that you don't see around much anymore. It tickled my nostalgia bone in a big way.


    We received a warm welcome from a woman who appeared to be Mrs. Burt, while Burt himself (we conjectured) was seated across the room.
    Our large pan pizza with half sausage and half pepperoni appeared before long. (True, the place was empty, except for us, but it still seemed pretty quick.)


    My initial impression was of a well-balanced work, in which the key elements of crust, cheese, sauce, meat topping harmonized quite well. The crust was lighter and less greasy than Malnati's, but, I'm guessing, in the same general style. (Cathy2 said she had little experience of Malnati's, so she didn't want to offer an opinion.) The charred edge extended around the circumference of the pie, but, as will become clear in views provided below, did not cover the entire depth of the crust. This seemed to provide the right amount of char, rather than dominating the pie. The tomato sauce seemed tangy and fresh-tasting, and was applied such that it mingled nicely with the cheese, rather than making a separate puddle of sauce on top of the pie, which I personally find quite irritating. Cathy2 observed that the sausage was sliced in disks, and had a healthy amont of garlic. The pepperoni was very thinly sliced and carefully distributed so that each bite contained a bit of meat.

    Mrs. Burt seemed to be the kind of person who finds it easy to be gracious, and I left feeling I'd be happy to return. (As an aside, Cathy2 was as pleased to find A&W Root Beer as I was to have a Leinenkugel's.)

    Around the corner at Pequod's we encountered a somewhat similar room that seemed to be attempting some of the same atmospheric cues as Burts. But it was strange because there were blaring TV's showing poker games and lots of neon beer signs amid the Hamm radios and ship photos. Rather than the cozy booths and wooden chairs, there were metal banquet chairs at formica tables. But no, BuddyRoadhouse, there was no sign of ladies' undergarments used as decorations. The only remnants of a prurient sense of humor were in some candid photos of past patrons gone wild on the wall in the entryway. Cathy2 also (discreetly) checked the men's room and the only decoration there was a fern. Oddly, both WC's have louvered doors that open adjacent to tables in the crowded room, giving one the impression that one's privacy is potentially in some jeopardy. Fortunately, the room was nearly empty, but unlike at Burt's we waited some time for our pizza. The service was adequate, but lacking the warmth we had experienced earlier in the evening.


    This time, my initial impression was of a much heavier, denser pizza. The crust was crisp on the bottom, but doughy without being chewy nearer the cheese layer, as if unevenly cooked. And yet the edge was deeply charred. The cheese was set in a heavier layer, and the sauce quite thickly applied over that. The pepperoni, Cathy2 observed, was shingled on like fish scales. One might speculate that this is in deference to Pequod's sea-going theme, and this hypothesis would be further supported by the strong saltiness of the tomato sauce and the pepperoni. While Pequod's pepperoni did have a hotter bite than Burt's, it was also overly salty, making the pepperoni slices unpleasant for me as a longtime foe of over-salting. At this point, Cathy also observed that the judicious use of oregano at Burts was a strong point lacking in Pequod's interpretation.

    Cathy and I then adjourned to my house, where we conducted a side-by-side evaluation of the slices.


    Packaging: Pequod's (right) uses foil, Burt's (left) does not

    Crust edge: Burt's at left, Pequod's at right.

    Sausage: Burt's at left, Pequod's at right

    Pepperoni: (Pequod's pepperoni (at right) are arranged like fish scales)

    A second round of tasting yielded data consistent with our earlier impressions. Burt's was the winner on every count. (Texture of crust, level of carmelization/char, balance of ingredients, amount of cheese, sauce, assembly, seasoning, and toppings) Pequod's seems a brute of a pizza, heavy and salty. Burt's on the other hand, is a charmer with a lighter touch and a sense of how to pull it all together. I'll let you decide for yourselves about the decor. But I'll be going back to Burt's for my pizza with jazz, not poker. Many thanks to Cathy for her company, her focus, and her photos. Thanks also to all who posted, Pequod's fans, too!
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.