In the past two weeks, I've gone to Pat's and Giordano's in a futile attempt to reproduce the thin crust experience I had at Monicals in rural, downstate Illinois this past June. I've done a little research and I've run into random sentiments on-line from Urbana-Champaign alumni, saying the only thing they missed about Urbana was Monicals and it was the only reason they'd ever go back to visit. The next time any of you are lucky enough to drive south on the 55 or 57 and pass one of those "Food Next Exit" signs, look for the Burgendy colored Moncials sign amongst the McDonalds, Burger King and Popeyes ads -- it should shine out to you like a beacon of hope. I've visited both the one in Clinton and in Urbana, fearing inconsistency with these franchises, but they were the best pizzas I'd ever had. (And I love Art of Pizza stuffed, as well as Zachary's in Berkeley).
In the meantime, is there a pizza in Chicago that even remotely resmebles Monicals? The crust: a very thin (yet dense) cracker-like crust that isn't merely "crisp" -- it's crunchy -- when you're chewing, it sounds like you've had a mouthful of grapenuts. The texture of Pat's crust was more like a saltine cracker -- a little airy, perhaps some would say delicate, but the crust did not hold up and went soggy. Giordano's was at least 3 times the thickness of Monicals and the outer edge of the pie had the consistency, thickness, and taste of a hard breadstick -- a plain flour-y taste. Also, way too many toppings, mostly cheese, and the sauce had too high of a moisture content so that the toppings slid around in a sloppy manner and I was deprived of the deep flavor of a drier sauce that had been cooked into the outer edges. Could someone please help me? It seems ridiculous to me that I'm dreaming of driving out of Chicago for over an hour into the middle of no-where for a pizza. But I keep finding excuses now to visit colleagues in Urbana... Any help would be greatly appreciated. I just re-located from San Diego (the best tacos el pastor and homemade horchata if you cross the border and you'll get 3 tacos for a dollar -- not to mention the Vietnamese food at Saigon) as well as Berkeley, so I'd be happy to provide any helpful info for those of you heading out there. Thanks so much.