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Chicago Pizza Showdown Pt. 1: Zelos in Arcadia

For SIX years, I had a client that required me to would spend WEEKS at time in Chicago in February (When your breath didn’t turn into smoke, but icicles) and then again in August (When the air was so thick you could suck it through a straw). Yes, they did pay VERY well… but part of the reason I agreed to this… was the Pizza! Of course I’m talking about the heavenly deep dish Chicago pizza that I still wake up at night pining for. Recently certain events happens so the stars aligned and I got to pay a visit to TWO places which claim to have the best Chicago Style in L.A. Zelos and Tony’s Little Italy…

We started with Zelos…

Located in a little dark complex in Arcada, Zelos is small, but a very charming little space. You can tell the owners really put some thought and care into the place. But also when you walk in you see a big cooler, with Pizzas in it!! Yes, the Pizzas are all premade and re-heated! I was more than a bit shocked at this, but nevertheless, we were starving and decided to stay.

We ordered two salads to start. Their standard Brocolli, which looked Delish, but was a bit underdone and a tad over dressed. And their special of Greens, Pecans and Goat Cheese was wonderful, but a bit under dressed. Nevertheless, we were there for the pizza… we ordered up four slices… Which came up in NO time in a deep dish pan…

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First, lets talk about the crust. From first seeing the pizza in the cooler I could tell this experience wasn’t going to be your typical super thick Chicago style. But my expecations instead focued on what Zelos is known for, the use of Corn Meal in their crust. Which was truly mastered. The crust on all slices were crisp, buttery and just ‘corny’ in flavor enough not to be distracting. For this flavor of crust, Zelos truly the master… way better than Masa in Silverlake (Another Chicago inspired pizza joint!). I will even say I preferred this crust to the one at Mozza, which is a different style, but this crust really did ADD to the pizza… unlike Mozza where it’s often overwhelming… Anyway, on to the slices…

First up was the roasted garlic special… Which was out of this world for Garlic fiends. The garlic was melty and add just the right punch with the cheese and the sauce…

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Then Corn and Caramelized Onion. I wanted to see if this would push the corn flavor to the next level and it SO did. The caramelized onion just accented the wonderful sweetness everywhere… in the crust, in the sauce, in the corn…

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Of course, I had to try the old standard… the Sausage and Onion… Which they piled on a LOAD of sausage on the slice. The meat was wonderfully spiced and gave me chills as I flashed back to that artic wind coming down Michigan Ave.

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Finally, the Potato and Panchetta… this was the only one who kinda missed the mark. The Panchetta was OVERPOWERING and the potato very thin slices, so you could hardly taste it. Ah well…

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Overall, we were VERY happy with out meal. Again, you can really see how the staff (Who also was wonderful!) really cares about everything, even the slight, but well edited beer selection! We hope to the fates allow us to visit again soon, especially since there were three other pies on the menu we were curious about and they are ALWAYS changing the specials.

--Dommy!

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  1. So glad you liked this place.

    Yes, the corn pizza is one of my favorites at this place. The calzones aren't bad either.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Ooo! Are they made with the same corn meal dough? We think we got Mozza's dough figured out and made our own "Mozzaish' pizzas a couple of weeks ago...

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      Now, we got to figure out how Zelos does theirs!

      --Dommy!

      1. re: Dommy

        Yup ... same corn meal crust they use for the pizzas is used for the calzones, which is why they are so damn good!

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Dang... we gotta go bet on the ponies more often! Thanks! :)

          --Dommy!

    2. Sounds great, I've been wanting to try that place for a while now...

      1. Love Zelo's!
        The density of the crust really makes it filling.....
        I am very satisfied after just two slices, whereas normally at other places I can eat 5 or 6!
        Very fine report!
        -slow~

        1. Darn it, my mouth is watering and I just had lunch!! I did not know that they sell by the slice - will have to stop by soon! Thanks Dommy!

          1. Great write-up and pics! Can you imagine that I've been driving past Zelo's for years now and have never stopped in, but now you have inspired me. :)