Dining Out

Chicago Fire

2416 J Street
443 0440
Sunday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday to 11 p.m.

One knock against Chicago-style pizza is the wait. I have a good friend in Chicago, and he once took to one of the classic Chicago deep dish places. It was basically an all-day endeavor, well worth it, even though I almost missed my flight home.

Chicago Fire also warns of a wait, but it didn't turn out too badly. We arrived around 6:30 on a Saturday night, hoping to beat the dinner rush. And we did-several groups came in right after we got signed up. I don't think we even waited the 25 minutes they warned us we would. We ordered the first time we saw a waiter after we sat, then the pizza didn't seem to didn't seem to take as long as they warned on the menu (35 minutes to deep dish, 40 for double crust).

We started with the spinach salad. While I didn't need the bacon, the greens were fresh and the dressing perfect, light and tangy. Like most other items here, it came in multiple sizes, with a huge "family" size running on $9.95.

Then the main event. We had half Chicago Fire combo, and half tomato, garlic and spinach ($24.75 for a large). One the age-old question of thin-crust (New York style) vs. deep dish (Chicago), I come down firmly on the side of liking my pizza to be a casserole. The combo was good, with pieces of spicy Italian sausage the size of breakfast patties-along with pepperoni, green pepper, onion and mushroom. But our own simple invention was even better. The crust was excellent, infused with garlic, just like the stray pieces of tomato we wouldn't let escape our plates.

We finished with the so-called "chocolate chip pizza," ($5.95). This wasn't really a pizza at all, just a huge, very chocolaty chocolate chip cookie semi-baked in a pan several inches across, then covered in ice cream and whipped cream. Not really a pizza, and not really a way to eat every day, but really good. We didn't leave any.

Chicago Fire looks like a big chain, with the very standardized waiter uniforms, low prices for lots of food, the huge black and white photos of classic Chicago scenes, and those little sticker things they put around the silverware (a key point of annoyance for some I know who've visited, especially because you're like to go through two sets of silverware while you're there). But there's only two locations, in Folsom and Midtown. And all the exposed brick also reminded me of Chicago-the whole town seems to be made of brick. Authentic, just like the pizza.

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