While, Im not a Chicago native (Im a very proud L.A. born and raised in the city- girl!) I used to travel to Chicago for business several times a year. And each time, I would indulge with some deep dish. My favorite was My Pie in Lincoln Park. Baked in a deep dish pan, buttery crust, amazing crumbled sausage and savory sauce with chunks of tomatoes.
Its been about three years since my last trip and I miss Chicago and their pizza SO much. I have made due with Tonys Little Italy, but it wasnt the exact taste I crave. A Few weeks ago I even was tempted to order some Lou Malnatis
So when I heard about Masa, I was thrilled. Not TOO far from my house. A cook with a Chicago pizza background! And thankfully we had other hounds report in on it. Not true deep dish and dense crust. But still, if it had that TASTE I was more than willing to give it a shot!
As recommened, I ordered the pizza before I got there. I was told it would take an hour to make. I was already on the road when I ordered, so I would have to wait a bit in the restaurant. But that no problem because, I also heard they were a bakery. So I would have a little coffee and pastry before the pizza! :D
When I arrived, I was struck by how big the restaurant was. Several tables on one side, and another side dedicated to the bakery part. However, there was only two couples sitting on the restaurant side, and the bakery side was equally empty in terms of the baked goods! The crisants looked good and were BIG, however, I had one from Lemon Moon earlier in the day, so I instead ordered a cookie with a Café Mocha. The cookie was nothing special and the coffee decent
The décor of the restaurant itself was a little sparse. The layout a little ackward. With the Kitchen and Bakery area taking well over half the space, even if the restaurant was full, there would be a huge sense of empty space.
As for the menu. There were salads, paninnis and a few entrees. All sounded yummy and the dishes I did see come out looked like good sized portions. Not huge, not small plates. They have a bararea, but didnt see a wines or beer. So I assume they probably dont serve alcohol (Shame for a pizza joint!). Still, the small staff seemed very warm and friendly and there speaking of several improvements to the menu and space. So I would defiantly return for a sit down dinner as I am in the area a fair amount.
And within the promised hour, I got my pizza Nice, hot and HEAVY!!! I got the large with Sausage and Mushroom. The Special which was voted one of the top 4 pizzas in L.A. by Citysearch and KABC-TV (The reason I know this is because it was written on the menu and mentioned several times by the staff) It cost a little under $20.
I hit the road, but had to take a peek (And bite! :D) before driving off. The pizza didnt look at ALL like I imagined it. It was flat with LOTS of crust, the toppings were all melded together in the center. It looked like a tire.
The toppings looked great, FRESH mushrooms, disks of sausage and good sauce and cheese ratio. I took bite and the flavors were very good, but not one item stood out and the texture rather firm. So the taste I just wasnt there . Then, I took a bite of the crust alone and it was very cakey. A bit dry, not much flavor When I finished the slice, I left a lot of the crust because it was just too dense to eat on its own
I brought the pie to its intended destination, and my folks liked it. They called it different, but they too left a lot of crust (One of which my Lab swiped and she seemed to enjoy LOL!!)
Im glad my folks are also close to Tonys Little Italy, which still remains my favorite of the deep dish.. But since this pizza is tasty and SO different from what is out there, I think its one of those Try it you may like it!
As for my craving for Chicago Pizza though, I hope I get that pizza stone for Christmas because Im probably going to be ordering from Lous after all!