Profile

FredipusRex

  • Favorite foods: Pizza, pizza, pizza. Fried chicken, burgers, steak, pasta, peanut butter anything. Ice cream, frozen custard, chocolate chip and molasses/ginger cookies, most anything with cinnamon (no tree nuts).

Spacca Napoli's Jonathan Goldsmith on Italian Culture and the Power of Pizza

I'm so suggestible... I ended up taking the kids to Spacca Napoli last night. Followed up by a trip to Margie's down the block for a Fudge Atomic Sundae.

Spacca Napoli's Jonathan Goldsmith on Italian Culture and the Power of Pizza

I've been going to Spacca Napoli with my family since it opened (one of the staff was my youngest son's camp counselor). Jonathan has a special place there - you can feel the love and passion in the food and in the restaurant itself. I can't claim any special relationship with Jonathan, although we certainly recognize each other from long association, but he's always been warm and kind. Glad to see this piece on a great man and a great pizzeria.

8 Must-Visit Restaurants in Rome

People must really be starved for the opportunity to passionately argue about pizza if an article on Rome that didn't once mention a pizzeria devolved so quickly into an NYC pizza argument. :)

Ask a Cicerone: How Can I Improve My Homebrewing?

@SE1942 - Sam Calagione is the founder of Dog Fish Head and has nothing to do with the Cicerone program started by Ray Daniels in Chicago. "Cicerone" is actually a trademark of Ray's - you have to have gone thru his particular program to use the term.

Cicerone is definitely *not* a long-standing term of art for "beer sommelier" - it simply means "tour guide" in Italian. Ray picked it because it had a similar semi-exotic sound as "sommelier", it vaguely fits ("guide") and he could trademark it (because no one else uses Cicerone to mean beer sommelier).

Ironically, The Craft Beer Institute's Cicerone program is probably the least rigorous of the major beer educational programs - to become a "certified beer server" (level 1) you just need to take an online exam. The Institute for Brewing and Distilling's Beer Academy program (leading to Accredited Beer Sommelier) is far more vigorous.

Ask a Cicerone: How Can I Improve My Homebrewing?

I always find it weird that a Chicagoan has created a program that uses an Anglicized Italian word for "tour guide" that, in Italian, sounds like what a Spaniard would call a pork rind. Cicerone is not a storied Italian tradition - ask an Italian what a cicerone is and they'd probably mumble something about museum docents. Why Ray felt the need to make up a faux-talian word is beyond me.

Where to Find the Best Ice Cream in Chicago

@Josh - I looked up Zephyr for nostalgia's sake and discovered it was owned by Byron Kouris of Byron's Hot Dogs fame. Zephyr closed due to the rent going up too high - although pretty much everyone acknowledges that it had been struggling for years after they bought out the currency exchange and expanded the restaurant. The last few times I went it was dirty and pretty empty - the coolest parts of the space had been closed off too.

Where to Find the Best Ice Cream in Chicago

@emgrae - You know, I've always really wanted to love Bobtail (love the story behind it) but I've taken my entire family there on several occasions and the general feeling was "meh". They have interesting sounding flavors but I've yet to be impressed by the taste of any of them.

@Josh - I hear ya. Go for some pizza at Spacca Napoli and think "north to Zephyr or south to Margie's?" Although Zephyr really was falling apart in its final years, it's still sad that it got replaced by one of those faux-Irish pubs.

Where to Find the Best Ice Cream in Chicago

I should have mentioned that the cupcakes at Lickety Split are from Flirty Cupcakes, so they are good all by themselves.

Where to Find the Best Ice Cream in Chicago

Totally agree about Margie's - the ice cream itself is of only middling quality (they use Kemp's) but that fudge... An Atomic Fudge Sundae (hot fudge + magic shell) with cheesecake ice cream is pretty incredible.

I'm very partial to Lickety Split, which is an adorable little frozen custard, bakery and candy shop on North Broadway. The Crazy Cake concrete is crazy but so good - they take any one of their half dozen fresh cupcakes and blend it into your choice of custard. Red Velvet blended into vanilla and topped with sprinkles is such a ridiculously over-the-top bit of deliciousness - great custard, the texture of the cake and the little ribbons of cream cheese frosting is amazing.

Taste Test: The Best Caesar Salad Dressings

I don't want to be a conspiratorialist, but the change in format came at the same time as a bunch of other cost-related changes. The new format can only be slightly cheaper to produce (it's not THAT hard to put the numerical ranks next to the product links), so maybe it's on the revenue side. The new format is far less likely to annoy advertisers. The new SE format is much more like glossy lifestyle publications that have nothing bad to say about current and potential advertisers.

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

@monitorhead - Check out the deep dish recipe here, it's the best "corn flavored" deep dish recipe out there. It's very authentic - I actually prefer it to any of the Malnati/Pizano's pizzas.

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

@dtremit - Yup. I knew the old locations (ate at both) but didn't want to come across as a travelogue. ;)

They were actually open simultaneously for a while in the early 90s when I first moved to Evanston. I also agree that they are not as good as they once were. But Carmen's always had more of a standard dough crust (ala Connie's or even Jake's) rather than a deep dish crust like Pizano's or Malnati's. Although Pizano's is not very deep on most occasions.

A Brief Ode to Fried Clams, the Best Fried Food in the World

@AnnieNT - Woodhouse Fish Company in SF serves whole belly Ipswich (MA) clams. Both the Market St and Fillmore ST locations.

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

@Kenji -

From a content perspective, there will still be plenty of pizza and hamburger related articles—those are really our bread and butter, after all—the only real difference being that they'll be much more closely aligned with the Serious Eats brand, rather than a specific sub-domain, if that makes sense.
Or there's the real answer: slice and AHT never drew traffic and were perpetual losses for a website that cant afford to fund a sub-site that can't even pay for it's own upkeep ... Then there's also the data that proves that fewer pizza posts on Serious Eats = more happy return visitors and more new traffic.
I suspect this will be my last comment on the topic as it's gotten tedious even for me. But your last comment is finally the honest one - Slice (and AHT) were a drag on the Serious Eats brand and bottom line. Those topics weren't your bread and butter, they were legacy brands that you needed to kill.

I, apparently, was one of the few Slicers that also engaged the Serious Eats brand (look at my comment history - lots of non-pizza related stuff). I just know now that this is no longer a place to look for any serious passion about pizza anymore. And that's OK - it's your (and Ed's and the rest of the SE staff's) site. It would just have been nice to be told to leave the building (like the Talkers were, albeit abruptly), rather than hinting at it.

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

@Kenji - That's certainly one way to spin it. The other is that the Slice community was your strongest community but will be unlikely to continue that way if they get one story a month. :D

A Brief Ode to Fried Clams, the Best Fried Food in the World

Every time I go to the Cape, I try once again to fall in love with whole belly fried clams. It never happens. That funky gunk just tastes like semi-digested clam food - which it is.

I console myself by eating a whole lot of lobster rolls.

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

I'll also note that the first pizza-related post in nearly a month got more comments than any other non giveaway-related post at Serious Eats. And the absolute largest comment chain came on a KettlePizza giveaway.

Hmm...

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

@Su-Vide Sam - The Carmen's in Rogers Park/Loyola closed several years ago, but the Evanston location is still going strong. When I first moved to Evanston 20-odd years ago, there were two Carmen's Pizzas but they consolidated into a single, different location (1241 Chicago Ave.) around the time the Rogers Park location closed.

@elangomatt - Before living in Evanston, I lived in Fox Lake and Rosati's was pretty much the only pizza joint around. It's just OK - you're better off with their thin-crust, party cut pie as that crust is the basis of all their pies. The stuffed just uses a slightly thicker sheet of the dough on the bottom. It's pretty flavorless as doughs go. Canned sauce (most sauces start with canned tomatoes, but Rosati's really has a canned-two-years-ago flavor - black pepper being the main seasoning) but the sausage was decent.

@illone/hunnylvr - Nancy's being off the list is sad considering they invented the form (don't believe the Giordano's story - Nancy's was first). When they were at the top of their game, they were easily the best stuffed pizza. The sauce was better and the crust was incredibly light and crisp for something that had to hold together a pie of that size. I know there were big problems behind the scenes (including arson and grudges between two "families" - the Paleses and Cirrinciones) that eventually led to some Nancy's becoming Suparossa's. Things calmed down when the current owner (Dave Howey) took over, but it's not quite the same.

Bacino's took over the crown for best stuffed pie in my mind, but I had a series of bad pies from their West Loop location and I kind of soured on the form a bit.

@cpd007 - Yeah, Bartoli's is on my list. I'm just not getting into the city lately. >sigh

@derricktung - Also eagerly awaiting the grand opening. Or the soft open. Or even the "my oven has barely had time to cure" launch. ;)

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

Ironically enough, My Pie (the deep dish winner here) violates the cardinal rule of the Kenji pizza book - they actively disparage the use of overnight or cold ferments.

My father's recipe is made fresh everyday and timed so the third "proofing" of the dough is in the oven like all bread products should be developed. That is why My Pie pizza has a wonderful fresh yeast taste and a crispness that remains tender to the bite. Many deep-dish pizzerias needlessly "age-proof" their doughs overnight. From a true baker's perspective, this over-proofs the dough, yielding a dead dough that has a stale like crunch.

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

I used to make a Giordano's/Edwardo's style pizza years ago and it wasn't really that hard to do. I'm sure Giordano's uses a sheeter and there's always talk about some sort of laminated dough, but the recipe I developed was pretty much just a low hydration dough with a fairly high oil content (like maybe 45-50% hydration, 2% salt, 12-14% oil, a touch of sugar) risen over the course of a day and rolled out, docked, prepped and baked.

That laminated quality seemed to me just to be a factor of the relatively low moisture/high oil content of the dough. I used to make my own puff pastry back then, so I wasn't afraid to laminate a dough, but it honestly doesn't taste like that to me. It's definitely flaky but not a pie dough.

Some of the flavor on a Giordano's crust is probably the Butter Flavored Crisco/margarine they use to grease the pans.

"Corn flavored" deep dish dough is about the easiest dough to make and work with in the history of pizza. Forget the myth about corn meal - it's not in there. Higher hydration and the use of (lots of) corn oil produces a dough that feels more like Play-Doh than typical pizza dough. It's darn tasty though...

The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago

@HistoricalArtFox - Unless My Pie has changed pretty radically in the few years since I've last been there, go to Pequod's instead. My Pie is (was?) not a particularly good representation of deep dish - it was overly greasy on my several trips. Maybe they have a new cook or Nick just likes 'em greasy.

I have yet to get to the new spot opened by the son of one of the founders of Gino's East, but I'm still of the opinion that a well-done Gino's East pie is the best of the "corn flavored" deep dish pies. Lou Malnati's crust is pretty bland (even cpd007, the #1 Malnati's fan outside of the Malnati clan, talks mostly about dipping it into lemon dressing) and Pizano's has a slightly too-salty cheese blend - and I *love* salty cheese.

While Burt's tops the list of these sorts of lists year in and year out, I find it funny that the knock on Pequod's (very similar, Burt-created pie) is inconsistency. About the only inconsistency I've ever had at Pequod's (and I've eaten there dozens of times) is crust thickness - it very occasionally gets bready. Burt's, on the other hand, has been wildly inconsistent for me - I've had pizzas served cold, pizzas largely missing sauce, underdone and overdone pies. It's very, very good when it comes out right but I've had more bad pies than good pies there.

Secrets of the Spice Trade: How to Run a Spice Shop

@elangomatt - I do a lot of smoking and like to mix up the flavors in my rubs, so grains of paradise finds a place there. I don't know that I'd use it much in a really complex rub, but if you're just doing a simple salt and pepper kind of thing, grains of paradise is a nice change of pace. I really want to try some long pepper to try for a Southeast Asian style of BBQ - the type done at Fatty Cue in NYC.

Because of the BBQ, I probably use more paprika from the Spice House than any other single spice, so the fact that it has real flavor is important.

Secrets of the Spice Trade: How to Run a Spice Shop

I've been going to the Evanston outpost of the Spice House for years. I have an entire drawer full of Spice House bottles - great, fresh spices and nice blends as well (Back of the Yards and Chicago Steak go on every burger I make).

I've tried to get them to carry long pepper (piper longum) for years but it's just not popular enough. They do sell Grains of Paradise for a different kind of pepperiness but I guess I've got to get Alton Brown to do a long pepper recipe...

The Easiest Way to Store Grains is a Cheap Plastic Pitcher

Boy, there are either a lot of Southerners reading Serious Eats this week or there's something seriously wrong with insect control in other parts of the country. Here, in the lowlands of Northern Illinois, I routinely keep rice in the original paper sack with the top loosely crumpled closed sitting on the floor of my pantry. Never had so much as an ant show up. Moths, weevils... not since my short stints in Florida and Texas have I heard of such need to seal food tight from critters.

The Food Lab Turbo: How to Make The Best Egg Salad

I do not approve of crunchy things in egg salad - I could handle some chives for onion flavor if you must but celery and radishes >shudder

I've always just used a fork - break the eggs in rough quarters so the yolks fall out toward the center of the bowl, mash the yolks with some mayo, a touch of dijon, salt and pepper, then mix the whites in roughly. Chives or tarragon if feeling fancy.

Broken Leg in Flagstaff = More Pizza!

So, I took my son in a Boy Scout trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. This would be my one opportunity to check out Caleb's Pizzicletta. I took my son and in-laws there the night before the trip. The pizza was delicious, the space was small but charming and Caleb was a gracious host (I let him know I was a Slicer). Great start to a trip.

4 days of rapids later, I suffered a severe break to my right tibial plateau and had to be air-lifted out to Flagstaff. Worst pain I can even imagine. Had two surgeries a week apart (an external stabilization followed by a knee reconstruction). (My son finished the trip with his Scout buddies and got home safe and sound).

I'm in a rehab center/nursing home until I get well enough to fly back to Chicago. A combination of pain meds and hospital food has seriously suppressed my appetite. Caleb's pizza isn't really deliverable, but I found salvation in the place right across the street from Pizzicletta - a place called Fratelli's.

Completely different style from Caleb's - this is 'American' or 'New York' style pizza. But it is excellent too! They take their pizza seriously - Stanislaus tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella, what seems like house made Italian sausage. Very tasty crust with good bones.

I have ordered pizza from Fratelli's twice now - its delicious (they've won Best of Flagstaff for 10 odd years). While I can't wait to get back to Chicago, Flagstaff is lucky to have two such great pizzerias.

I highly recommend Pizzicletta (get there early!) and Fratelli's.

Lime Meltways

Meltaways were one of the first cookies I made when I began my professional baking career. They're incredibly easy and their delicate, crumbly texture makes them terribly addictive. In this version, I made them with lime zest. But if you'd prefer another flavor—like lemon, vanilla bean or even black pepper—go for it. More

The Best Chicken Tikka Masala

The secret to our Chicken Tikka Masala is a salty yogurt-based marinade followed by intense charring on a hot grill. We purposely undercook our chicken so it can simmer in a creamy spiced tomato and cream sauce before serving. When done right, the sauce should be a multifaceted affair; a balanced blend of intense spice flavors with a gingery kick rounded off by the richness of cream and butter, with a splash of freshness and acid from tomatoes and citrus. As you bite into a chunk of chicken, the smokey char should work its way though to the forefront, to be slowly replaced by a new layer of spicing, this time intensified by its time on the grill. The chicken chunks should be juicy, moist, and tender. More

Philadelphia Butter Cake

Philadelphia Butter Cake is almost indescribably rich: if you can imagine Gooey Butter cake but minus the cream cheese, and with a base that is somewhat like a crushed, compressed danish, you're getting the right idea. More

My Pie Monday: Potatoes, Deep Dish, Eggs, and More!

Today we've got a gorgeous potato and thyme pie from Scott D, a Pequod's-style deep dish pizza from FredipusRex, and a seriously delicious-looking pie from Pizzacommander's pizza party (why didn't we get an invite?)...But that's not all—Norma's working her milk kefir starter, Professorplum shares a nice Margherita, Patrick B made a ham, egg, and cheese pie, and there are more tasty pizzas from FoolishPoolish, Bartonkt, dmcavanagh, Tdpl, TScarborough, ESNY1077 , thearrogantchef, and first time MPM'r Soles. More

The Pizza Lab: No-Roll, No-Stretch Sicilian-Style Square Pizza at Home

The ideal square pie needs a soft, moderately chewy, and pliant crust, with an almost fried crispness to the bottom. The layer of cheese should be thicker than on a traditional pizza, and as for the sauce, I like it with a hint of roasted garlic, a touch of herbs, and lightly cooked with a distinct sweetness and overt tomato flavor. I know—I'm a demanding guy, but I'm also willing to work for my pies. 23 takeout containers worth of leftovers,** 8 pounds of mozzarella, 16 pounds of flour, and more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at later, I finally achieved the pie of my dreams. Let me walk you through it. More