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Pizza on a Plane! (or: how do I take pizza from Chicago to Phoenix?)

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I'm at the Hyatt Regency (151 E. Wacker) and fly back to Phoenix on Sunday at around 5 p.m. As it happens, a friend is having a BBQ that night, and because of the time change, I'll arrive around 5 p.m.

I thought it would be pretty cool to drop in with a pizza or three from Chicago. I checked with the airline and though you can't take any liquid on a plane, you can sure as heck cart boxes of pizza. I'll probably take the train from downtown to Ohare.

That said, where should I grab some pie?

- it needs to be good
- it needs to scream 'only from Chicago' - as in unique
- it needs a shelf life of a few hours (no tuna tartar)
- it needs to be in the vicinity of my transit route
- it needs to be reasonably priced. The lower the cost, the more I can take.
- it needs to fit in boxes that would take up the same space as an average carry-on piece of luggage in an overhead bin. 4-foot wide pies, though party friendly, wouldn't work. 4 or 5 2-ft wide boxes seem more manageable.

Any thoughts? This is last minute so any ideas would be appreciated.

Cheers, Jon

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  1. Bad news from my end...

    If you are talking about taking the "L" from downtown to O'Hare and hopping on board a flight to Phoenix, you are talking about a minimum of 4-5 hours. No way I would leave cooked pizza "out" that long. Options are asking wherever you get it from to freeze it for you...if frozen solid enough you could get by with out a cooler (just buy one of those insulated bags).

    Or, the other option if you want some real good "Chicago-style" thin crust, wait until you land, call Rosati's (a Chicago chain that is very good and has several Phoenix area locations) and pick 'em up hot on the way.

    http://www.rosatispizza.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: RSMBob

      I'm a chicago-native in exile. I'm sorry to say that the Rosatis here in Phoenix are sadly lacking. Rosatis was one of my favorite chains back in Chicago, but something was lost in translation. I'm not sure if it's the water, or the lack of authentic Chicago grease, or the fact that most of the pizza cooks aren't from Chicago, but the Phoenix area Rosatis are just lacking soul.

      There are some really good restaurants that serve decent deep dish in the Phoenix area. Vito's is one of them, I believe. For thin crust, Pizzeria Bianco cannot be beat. It is, hands down, one of the best pizza places I've ever had the luxury of dining at.

    2. There is a Connie's Pizza in Terminal One (United) at O'Hare. You should be able to buy a whole pizza there. Connies makes good Chicago style pizza (though I can't vouch for the O'Hare concession). That will reduce the travel time by a couple of hours. As long as it is vegetarian, it should hold for a few hours at room temperature.

      1. I once took a pizza thru JFK (purchased at the terminal) security by putting in ON TOP of the x-ray machine, walking though, and picking up the UNCHECKED box on the other side. Of course, that was 10 days before 9/11!

        TT

        1. Pizzeria Due (619 N. Wabash) sells frozen pizzas for carry-out. It's deep-dish, on your way to O'Hare, and since it started in Chicago, it screams Chicago. Of course, there's a Pizzeria Uno in Phoenix, but I've never found the pizza at the non-Chicago Uno's to be as good as at the Uno's/Due's in Chicago.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mjrutherford

            I know as a fact that the grub at Pizzeria Uno near the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, N.J., is consistently better than Due in Chicago.

            And that is just sad.

            Anyway, I'd take with me a frozen Uno or Malnati's packed in dry ice and see how that goes. Very cool idea, by the way.

          2. Buy a frozen pie and pack the bag with dry ice. A buddy of mine took a pie from Chicago to London this way; he said it cooked just fine.

            1. Lou Malnati's location in Lincoln Park also sells frozen pizzas. If you want to take pub. transpo there, the red line stops close to there at Fullerton (then, just walk north a few blocks down Sheffield Ave). I'm surprised, though, that pizza could make it through security in this day and age. I do know that they ship, as I sent a pizza to my future-in-laws in Philly and it arrived just fine.

              Lou Malnati's
              958 W. Wrightwood Ave.
              Chicago, IL 60614
              773-832-4030

              1. Due's at Wabash and Ontario and Lou Malnati's on Wells street nearby both sell frozen deep dish pizza to go. Lou's also makes great thin pizza. Why not buy a variety. Stop by Walgreens a couple of blocks west of Due's for a styrofoam cooler and ice. Enjoy. Please report back.

                1. My advice is that whatever frozen pizza you end up deciding to buy, be sure to use a cast iron skillet to cook it in, also let it thaw from frozen in refridgerator the night before cooking, use 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil at the bottom of the skillet, put the pizza on top of the oil and bake it at a consisant 350 degrees.

                  I recently had a frozen UNO's this way and it came out perfect! The crust was perfectly flakey, and color was nice and golden, in fact, it was better than many of my Gurnee Uno Chicago Grill experiences.

                  1. You might want to go to Lou Malnati's web site and have them ship some pizzas to Phoenix. When the husband and I lived in Denver, we really missed Chicago pizza and every once in a while used to take advantage of this service that Lou's offered. It was wonderful.

                    Here's another thing to think about. The smell of hot food and the close quarters of an airplane do not always mix. Especially when the smell is something as intense as pizza and you're bringing more than just that personal pan that you're going to eat during the flight.

                    http://www.tastesofchicago.com/

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kwe730

                      ah yes the fresh pizza smell torture!

                      I once grabbed a pizza from Gigio's in Evanston and then took the Metra north line all the way up to Waukegan. Man, I had the whole train car stinking with the smell of a freshly baked NY style 18" sausage & peperoni pizza! The conductor finally stopped at my seat and asked me if I had planned to share that or was I just going to let everyone go home starving!

                      I can only think of two other foods that have that same effect on a whole room: Fajitas & popcorn. Either way, I know wont ever do that again.

                    2. Having grown up in the Chicago area, but now living in Kentucky, I ordered Lou Malnati's pizza for my husband for a Christmas gift. Pretty pricey, and nowhere near as good as getting it at the restaurant or having it delivered hot. You can, however, go to the closest Lou's and buy it frozen (made today). Then follow the cooking instructions....and Voila! If you have a pizza oven at home...it's the best~

                      1. I am curious whether you tried to bring the pizza on the plane and whether you were able to clear security with the pies?

                        I used to bring Giordano's home on a monthly basis and the bx fit nicely under the seat but am concerned that gig is over.