Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are solely those of this author in his private capacity, and do not wholly represent those of LoganSquarist.
Pizza & Logan Square: two things currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts, having never been more “in” in Chicago. So where to go? Excluding the chains (Giordano’s, Papa John’s, et al), here’s a guide to getting yourself a hot slice of local awesome in the neighborhood.
The Casual Slice: Dante’s Pizzeria
With locations on either end of Logan Square, there’s really no reason to not give Dante’s a try. And once you’re in, you may not want to leave. Posters from old rock shows adorn the walls and the shop’s TV is usually playing some obscure, culty movie on Netflix.
The relaxed, quiet atmosphere is akin to a coffee shop (check out THAT local round-up here) but instead Dante’s serves up really great New York-style pizza. Oh, and it’s BYO, too.
The “Dante’s” name itself is of course a nod to Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem. Inside the location at Armitage and Whipple, an illustrated chalkboard menu inspired by Inferno by Johnny Miller lays out the offerings, and the serving peel hanging adjacent to the register has a pentagram etched onto the wood reminding customers of the journey their food made through the kitchen’s own hellfire.
The One-Night Stand Slice: Big Tony’s (3276 W Fullerton Ave.)
From touring in bands and often finding myself in pockets of towns where the landscape is unknown to me, knowing where to get a quick slice of pizza after load-in is how I ground myself. And finding a quality spot to eat close to said venue can sometimes feel like a desert oasis, or perhaps further still, a form of divine intervention. I’m talking about the pizza joints you’ll try once and really like, swear you’ll go back and patronize again, but soon realize you just aren’t in that part of town often enough to make an honest effort at a genuine relationship.
Big Tony’s on Fullerton—just over and across from Burlington—is very much that place for me. We came together by chance once, and I look back on that time fondly, but it’d be unfair to both of us to label ourselves something we’re just not.
The Classy Night Out: Reno
Situated very much ON the square, Reno is a convenient landmark and an easy spot for meeting up before a long night out in the neighborhood. The menu isn’t limited to just pizza either. Open for brunch, lunch, Elevensies, afternoon tea and dinner, Reno’s list of food options also contains pasta dishes, sandwiches and salads.
While Reno may not do individual slices, its pizza pies are sized just big enough that people won’t judge you for eating a whole one yourself (or at least that’s what I’m banking on). Try one of the signature styles or create your own masterpiece from a fully-loaded list of toppings at the biggest little bar in Logan Square.
The Crassy Night Out: Boiler Room
A yin to Reno’s yang, Boiler Room is even placed at the opposite end of Logan Square. An easy jump off the California stop of the Blue Line, Russ Grant’s pizza bar has been dishing out its PB&J special—a slice of pizza, a beer (PBR tall boys) and a shot of Jameson—since 2010.
An ideal spot to hang out and watch movies on projectors, people-watch those around you on a Tinder date or play their once-a-month PBR Bingo, Boiler Room is like that party you go to where you don’t know the host personally but hear from plenty of friends that it’ll still be a fun time. And sometimes it is, but who really cares if not, because there’s always pizza and cheap whiskey; the hardest part is done already. Plus: Boiler Room has also begun to institute a PBS special for the brunch crowd, comprised of pizza, a Bloody Mary, and side car of beer.
The Late Night Slice: Papa Ray’s
In big, bright, tubey neon, “Home Of The Monster Slice!” & “Open Till 2 AM!” hang boastfully in the window. This cozy hole-in-the-wall on Fullerton Avenue is full of everything that makes the Fourth Meal tradition so special.
Pizza is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as Papa Ray’s also has wings and a myriad of other fried, greasy goodness. Nothing quite soaks up your night’s adult beverages like pizza—except maybe taking a cab to a fast food drive-thru.
But just how big are these “Monster Slices”? Go ahead, I personally dare you to comfortably to eat two.