My brother and I have equal affinity for deep dish pizza, the Chicago Bears and our Italian heritage. When Kurt heard about South of Chicago, a pizza place that opened in a humble Fountain Square storefront earlier this spring, we hot-footed it over. Here is the resulting conversation:
Kurt: This place is covered in Bears, Bulls, Cubs, Sox and Blackhawks stuff.
Anne: The only Colts paraphernalia is a 2006 Colts vs. Bears Super Bowl poster. They're showing a smidgen of respect.
Kurt: You wouldn't fly the American flag at Olive Garden, would you? This is about Chicago.
[The air fills with the sounds of nostalgic buzzers from the Game Show Network on TV and energetic jack-hammering on the south leg of The Cultural Trail on the sidewalk outside.]
Anne: How do we describe the deep dish of our dreams?
Kurt: Crust that's firm, flaky and buttery. A crust stub that I look forward to eating.
Anne: My fantasy crust involves quite a bit of cornmeal and is crunchy on the outside but chewy within. The crust needs to be golden and it needs to bear the mark of hand-shaping, with a fairly high wall.
[Kurt uses the "flick test" on the crust of our South of Chicago pie: a healthy tapping sound is heard. The crust bears signs of thumbprints - another plus - though the wall is not that high.]
Kurt: Pizza sauce should also be something I'd want to eat by itself. The chunkier the better.
Anne: This sauce is not that chunky, but very tomato-y, with a sprinkling of parmesan and dried herbs.
Kurt: The only thing that's possible to overdo in a deep-dish pizza is cheese. You don't want what tastes like a big mouthful of hacked-up emphysematic phlegm.
[The South of Chicago pizza has no bites of solid cheese, thus respecting the fellow toppings of garlic, olives, vibrant green fresh spinach, and clearly un-canned mushrooms. The first five toppings are free at South of Chicago. Deep dish is available in a cute personal size, and as a 14-incher, which feeds three for $15.99; drinks are included. Kurt bites into an Italian Beef sandwich that we also ordered, dry, with about two shots of herbed jus on the side.]
Kurt: Wow, this is prime. Very thinly sliced beef on a cushiony bun.
Anne: A nice peppery finish to each bite. Bread that's soft, not tough.
[The owners, Bob and Beverly, each come to check on us a few times. They are from Chicago but have lived in Indy sixteen years. They seem passionate about their work and eager to please.]
Kurt: I hazard to say we've found the best deep dish south of Soldier Field.