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Rustico Executive Chef Frank Morales has turned to Chicago’s hearty (if not heart-stopping at more than 400 calories per slice) deep-dish pizza traditions for inspiration. He’s created a small line of deep-dish pies, including one with housemade Chicago-style sausage. (Never mind that Obama’s favorite pie comes from Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in Hyde Park, which serves a decidedly thin-crust round.)
Building his own deep-dish pies was not exactly a labor of love for Morales, who prefers the thin, Neapolitan-style pizzas that emphasize dough over toppings. Chicago-style is “sort of the opposite,” he says. “It’s a pizza that’s overly topped.” Nonetheless, the chef invested countless hours in researching Chicago deep-dish—only to realize that he couldn’t really afford to make the real, real thing. True deep-dish pizza can be more than two inches thick and require 45 minutes or more of cooking time; diners just won’t wait that long for pizza at the Alexandria gastropub.
“It takes about 11 minutes to drink a beer in a noisy place and 14 to drink one in a quieter place,” says Morales. “So it would be several rounds” before they got their pie.
You might think that’d be a selling point, but not in this time-crunched market. So Morales has produced smaller pies that still adhere to tradition without making clock-watching Washingtonians wait so long that they start posting angry messages on Yelp.com from their iPhones. The deep-dish pies are available this week.
Other chefs are turning out rounds for the inauguration, too. Enzo Fargione, chef at Teatro Goldoni, has created a tongue-in-cheek line of presidential pies, including the Jimmy Carter (a chef’s choice pizza, because Carter couldn’t decide which way to part his hair), the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (an everything pizza for a man who was elected to four terms), and the James K. Polk (which comes with a much-needed glass of white wine since no “refreshments” were served at receptions during his presidency).
Finally, Vidalia chef (and former Windy City resident) R.J. Cooper has created the Obama Mama Pizza, a six-inch deep-dish pie stuffed with smoked ham, pineapple, pepperoni, buffalo mozzarella, and red sauce. It’ll be available only at the bar at the downtown restaurant.
Image by Flickr user bucklava