Saturday, August 7, 2010

“If You Don’t Eat Here, We’ll Both Starve”

Unfortunately this restaurant has now closed pending relocation. A message on their answering machine says to check the website for updates. So far, the website doesn't even mention it being closed.

That’s what the sign hanging on the wall says at Chicago Pizza Kitchen. What it really oughta say is, “If you don’t eat here, you’re missing the boat.”
For over three years now, the Toronto suburb of Maple has been treated to what Chicagoans have been enjoying for decades. Chicago style pizza. A deep dish, stuffed crust pizza, loaded with ingredients.
As a young boy Spiros Drossos learned at the feet of his father Denny, a master chef and provisions officer on Greek Cruise Lines.
Denny eventually settled in Sausalito, California and opened a restaurant called “The Boat House” before moving on to Napa Valley to open “The Penguin’s Fish Grotto.” Spiros learned the restaurant business front to back, literally, by working every job imaginable. Eager to create his own American dream he opened a steak and seafood place named “Speero’s Restaurant and Tavern.”
Six more successful restaurants would follow before, in 1997 he brought the taste of Chicago to Hercules, California. His Chicago style stuffed crust pizzas with their premium ingredients and signature sandwiches (including Chicago beef) would become a huge hit in the Bay Area.
Fast forward almost 10 years and Spiros life was to take an unexpected turn. North. Enter Helen Antonopoulos. With Helen, Spiros would find love again and bring his culinary talents to the Greater Toronto Area. Together they married, started a family and founded Chicago Pizza Kitchen. His spectacular pizzas and sandwiches were instant favourites in the area. Spiros strives to use only the freshest and best ingredients and makes as much in house as possible. The Italian sausage, giardiniera and of course sour dough pizza crust being prime examples. Heck, he even grinds his own beef for burgers.
So on to the food.
The regular thin crust pizzas a very good but the mammoth stuffed crust pizzas are the business. A large can weigh in at over 10 pounds and are enough to feed 4 big appetites. They come in over a half dozen different styles ranging from veggie to meat lovers. You also can create your own from dozens of toppings. My usual is pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon and green olives.
Today we had the (medium) Dionysos. Our meat lovers is named after Spiros's son and came stuffed with pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, meatballs and bacon. It’s topped with sliced garlic, chopped tomatoes and dusted with parmesan cheese. It’s cut into 8 slices and each slice clocks in at over half a pound. It’s one of the best pizza I’ve had.
Bringing the taste of Chicago to the GTA also means bringing a Chicago Beef Sandwich. The sibling of the roast beef au jus is made from house roasted beef and home made giardiniera on a French stick which is then dipped in the jus. I order it extra jus so more is ladled on after. It comes with a salad which today was a fantastic Cesar. The dressing was of course made in house and had a nice rounded flavour. It was even made with anchovies.
Often, I’ll sub the salad and get potato wedges instead. The seasoned wedges are fresh made in house as well.
I’ve sampled many other menu items and they’re all first rate. If you’re lucky, Spiros will even play guinea pig with you. He’s always tinkering in the kitchen and will often bring a possible new menu item out for some customers to test drive.
That brings me to my final point about CPK. This is a family run business that has a strong emphasis on service and quality. Spiros (or Helen) will come check on you personally to make sure your visit is enjoyable. Today it was son Denny’s turn at the controls. This type of customer appreciation is a dying art in the restaurant game these days and it is welcomed by your truly.
“Get in here” and “Experience something better” as Spiros likes to say.
You can find Chicago Pizza Kitchen at 2338 Major MacKenzie Dr., Maple, Ontario.

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Well that’s all for today. I’m stuffed.


1 comment:

  1. Nice blog Davwud =) I have been thinking of trying for awhile. I tried Giordano's in Chicago, but it was a bit too crazy with the abundance of cheese (my tummy doesn't agree with an overload unfortunately), how's the cheese:topping ratio @ CPK? Is it all cheese under that yummy-looking top layer?