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Zackary's Pizza: how is the Stuffed Deep Dish?

permutated Apr 10, 2008 01:10 AM

I'm in a conundrum- I REALLY want Chicago style Stuffed Deep Dish pizza but I don't want any fake flavors or taste.

How is the Stuffed Deep Dish at Zackary's in the east bay? I'm considering going here or actually ordering a mail-order pizza from Chicago.

Thoughts?

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  1. h
    HungryGrayCat Apr 10, 2008 06:41 AM

    I don't like Zachary's. It in no way resembles any pizza I ate when I lived in Chicago. And I was young and poor so I ate A LOT of pizza.

    1. k
      kc72 Apr 10, 2008 07:17 AM

      Do a search - you'll find many opinions of Zachary's.

      1. Robert Lauriston Apr 10, 2008 09:08 AM

        Give it a try. A small will cost you only $15-20. To my taste, the pies have a tendency to be undercooked and gooey. The spinach and mushroom doesn't have the ridiculous amount of tomato sauce the others do.

        I much prefer Little Star in SF, but it's regular deep dish, not stuffed.

        -----
        Zachary's Chicago Pizza
        1853 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

        Zachary's Chicago Pizza
        5801 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

        4 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          k
          kc72 Apr 10, 2008 09:13 AM

          Also, there's one in San Ramon if you're looking for that area.

          -----
          Zachary's Chicago Pizza
          3110 Crow Canyon Place, San Ramon, CA

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            Ruth Lafler Apr 10, 2008 10:25 AM

            One partial solution to it being undercooked is to get a partial-baked and finish it at home to your preferrence. Although I have to admit, I'm not a fan, either.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              c
              chemchef Apr 10, 2008 11:08 AM

              Or just ask for it well done, like I do when I order french fries from anywhere!

              1. re: chemchef
                permutated Apr 10, 2008 01:01 PM

                This sounds like a more viable option than mail ordering one from chicago.

                Thanks guys!

          2. n
            Nina Apr 10, 2008 11:26 AM

            I really like the Good Health special (chicken and spinach, whole wheat crust), but there is a complete divergence of opinions on this issue. So as Robert says, try it - and if you don't like it, there are usually homeless guys sitting outside the Berkeley and Oakland branches who would be very pleased, I'm sure.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Nina
              c
              chemchef Apr 10, 2008 11:30 AM

              I agree. I love the thin crust pizzas there, but not the stuffed. The smell, when I walk by the Rockridge branch, is intoxicating! Its worth it go by for the smell alone!

              1. re: chemchef
                Robert Lauriston Apr 10, 2008 01:11 PM

                Then keep going and have a pastrami sandwich at Wood Tavern.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  c
                  chemchef Apr 10, 2008 02:43 PM

                  I would've last Sunday when I was there, but they were closed. What's up with that?

                  1. re: chemchef
                    JasmineG Apr 11, 2008 07:00 PM

                    They don't open on Sundays until dinner time.

                    1. re: JasmineG
                      c
                      chemchef Apr 12, 2008 08:15 AM

                      Obviously.

                      1. re: chemchef
                        JasmineG Apr 12, 2008 05:06 PM

                        Then why did you ask the question?

                        1. re: JasmineG
                          c
                          chemchef Apr 12, 2008 05:13 PM

                          It was sarcasm, which I realize doesn't come through well in type, but I figured it would be obvious since I said that I was there and they were closed (in other words, I saw the sign with the hours on the door, but was wondering why such a popular place would be closed in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend day??? ie. "what's up with that?").

                          Sorry for the confusion.

                          1. re: chemchef
                            JasmineG Apr 12, 2008 05:19 PM

                            I actually asked the owner about that, because I have been dying for them to be open for Sunday brunch, and she said that they decided early on that they wouldn't do that, and that it's just too much work and too hard on their staff to be open all day Saturday, late Saturday night for dinner, and then start up again early Sunday and be open through dinner. They were originally open Sundays from something like 11am to 5 pm, but I guess decided that dinner was better for them on Sundays than mid-afternoon.

                            1. re: JasmineG
                              c
                              chemchef Apr 15, 2008 12:18 PM

                              Bummer. It sounded like a perfect Sunday brunch place to me.

                2. re: chemchef
                  e
                  EllaBoBella Sep 12, 2008 10:35 PM

                  Yeah I'm pretty sure the smell is even better than the pizza. I used to live nearby, and that smell basically sums up Rockridge for me:))

              2. psb Apr 10, 2008 03:31 PM

                >Thoughts?
                >
                the pizza is ok but i think they are slightly customer unfriendly:
                --dont take reservations
                --dont take credit cards
                --dont have pitcher of soda
                [assume none of this has changed]

                i do think it is kinda overrated ... when it comes in first place in
                "reader polls" type situations.

                3 Replies
                1. re: psb
                  c
                  chemchef Apr 10, 2008 03:41 PM

                  I've had terrible service at the one on Solano Ave on more than one occasion, however, I've had excellent service at the Rockridge location. I've never needed a reservation here, but then I typically eat a little earlier than everyone else (5-6pm).
                  From the website, "If the restaurant is full, you may order your pizzas while you wait for your table." This is a nice perk since they make all the pizzas fresh to order, so it can take a little while to get it, but trust me when you do, it'll be fresh and HOT!

                  Also, I don't think its that unusual for a pizza parlor-type place not to take reservations. Also, I'm about 99% sure that they do take credit cards (my husband paid the last time we were there, and he never has cash on him).

                  Yes, a pitcher of soda would be nice, however they do have Thomas Kemper root beer, or something like it, on tap, which is nice with pizza.

                  1. re: psb
                    d
                    Deeg67 Apr 10, 2008 03:44 PM

                    They take cards now, I believe - I know San Ramon does.

                    As a lifelong Chicagoan, I like Zachary's - it was never on the level of a top-tier stuffed pizza in Chicago, but solidly middle tier IMO. When they went co-op I felt the quality might have dropped a bit, but it seems to have rebounded. I like it, and I think it's fairly authentic.

                    There are options. Little Star, as mentioned, is very good in the deep-dish style (not stuffed). Paxti's (started by an ex-Zachary's owner) has Palo Alto and SF locations, and I think their stuffed may be slightly superior to the current Zachary's. And in a pinch, but Gino's East and Uno are available frozen at most supers. Sacrilege, I know, but they aren't terrible.

                    1. re: psb
                      l
                      liujenny Apr 10, 2008 06:54 PM

                      They do take credit cards now for sure in both Solano and Rockridge locations. I've never been to Chicago, so I'm not familiar with what "real" Chicago deep dish should be, but I've found Zachary's to be satisfying, reasonably valued with friendly service. Usually there's no line at lunch or afternoon either...

                    2. a
                      alohatiki Apr 10, 2008 08:22 PM

                      I am not a fan of Zachary's. I am currently in love with Paxti's in SF. I am from Chicago and I think they have an excellent stuffed spinach pizza. I think their sauce has a great tang to it.

                      -----
                      Patxi's Chicago Pizza
                      511 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: alohatiki
                        o
                        oranj Apr 11, 2008 10:28 AM

                        I agree that for stuffed pizza patxi's hits pretty close to what i remmebr in chicago. Nice buttery crust, tasty sauce. For some reason ordering a whole pizza tastes much better than dropping in for a slice, which was a little undercooked. Somehow the sauce at zachary's always seems a little acidic. (tomatoes too tart) and the flavors never really come together. Little star is good too, but as mentioned, not stuffed.

                        1. re: oranj
                          ChowFun_derek Apr 16, 2008 08:09 AM

                          Does Paxti's need to be ordered "well done" like Zachary's for the crust, or do they not make their's underdone...

                          1. re: ChowFun_derek
                            ChowFun_derek Apr 16, 2008 08:37 PM

                            I'll answer my own question... lunch today... filling quite tasty..crust nicely brown but tasteless and bready...definitely not 'short' enough.
                            Not nearly as satisfying as Little Star....

                            1. re: ChowFun_derek
                              Frosty Melon Apr 17, 2008 10:05 AM

                              Different styles, though...I love Little Star's deep dish but I also love my Patxi's stuffed spinach & onion, which is something Little Star just doesn't do. Patxi's stuffed is Chicago-style all the way, but yes, it's different from Little Star. I live equidistant from both and often have a hard time deciding between the two! (An enviable dilemma, I know.)

                          2. re: oranj
                            f
                            FigNinja Apr 21, 2009 04:49 PM

                            I agree. The tomatoes in Patxi's sauce taste more roasted. Zack's has a really bright tomato flavor which I find a bit overpowering.

                            I usually go to the Palo Alto shop.

                            -----
                            Patxi's Chicago Pizza
                            441 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                          3. re: alohatiki
                            Frosty Melon Apr 11, 2008 10:49 AM

                            I was born in Chicago and lived there on and off over 27 years and have to agree, Patxi's spinach pizza is the closest I've come around here to the real deal
                            .

                          4. swag Apr 10, 2008 08:39 PM

                            I'm a 4th generation Chicagoan. And I think Zachary's is the best this area has to offer. Most places call it "pizza", but it's pathetic. I mean, how hard can it be to really make a decent basic pizza?

                            But unlike some of the others here, I never had stuffed pizza (!= deep dish) until after I moved away from Chicago. Always had thin crust pizzas when I lived there, despite the stereotypes. Zachary's makes pizza into a dessert. I'd jump on that action, no question.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: swag
                              Robert Lauriston Apr 15, 2008 11:07 AM

                              You prefer Zachary's to Patxi's or Little Star?

                            2. mikeb Apr 11, 2008 10:40 AM

                              Can anyone comment on the stuffed pizza from Windy City in San Mateo? I liked the stuffed pizza there, but it has been a long time.

                              http://www.windycitypizza.com

                              -----
                              Windy City Pizza
                              35 Bovet Rd, San Mateo, CA 94402

                              1. p
                                P. Punko Apr 11, 2008 06:55 PM

                                My Chicago friends and wife consider Zachary's stuffed to be pretty goo, authentic Chicago-style stuffed deep dish. I think stuffed deep dish is a little bit of an acquired taste because if one doesn't like it, they might not even like the best Chicago version. I like it. Stuffed pizzas like this are usually underdone to me, but it has been cooked reasonably for me. I usually get whatever sausage/onion/olive/pepper style at these places and I thought it was very good. I think it is funny that the latest Bon Appetit gave it a mention for best Chicago-syle pizza outside of Chicago along with some other places, considering the downer views on it around this board. It will be better than mail order I can tell you that. Patxi's is also good.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: P. Punko
                                  r
                                  rccola Apr 19, 2009 12:32 PM

                                  I find it to be pretty goo, too. (As written

                                2. s
                                  sugarbuzz Apr 11, 2008 08:49 PM

                                  I'm a former Chicagoan & my dad also grew up in the Little Italy section of Chicago so I grew up with pizza. When my friends were ordering out my dad was making our pizza from scratch so I admit to being a pizza snob.
                                  Zachary's is the WORST pizza I've had in California. Why does nobody make a good sauce. It's just as important as the crust! Zachary's is not Chicago style it is what they think is Chicago style.

                                  Paxti's is good & Little Star is ok too. I usually just make my own.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sugarbuzz
                                    k
                                    kimchee411 Apr 13, 2009 05:51 PM

                                    "Zachary's is the WORST pizza I've had in California." Please, that's just absurd.

                                    1. re: kimchee411
                                      s
                                      sugarbuzz Apr 22, 2009 05:11 PM

                                      What's absurd is that people actually like Zachary's.

                                  2. bbulkow Apr 12, 2008 09:50 AM

                                    I like Zacharies. I've had deep dish in chicago a few times, but not enough to really know the ins and outs. What astonishes me about Z is the crust - it's like coissant, with layers and flavors of its own. The sauce is bright and tangy, but not that deep and rich. The other ingredients are, well, ingredients. It eats well the next day. I don't like how it comes to the table with water on the top - I believe that comes with using lots of fresh tomatoes, so I can forgive a little.

                                    I think Z does best with veggie fillings, like the spinach and mushroom, and green pepper and sausage. They seem to take extra care with the veggies. Like I said, bright and sing-y. Arguably it's a mis-match, light-bright ingrediants on a 4 pound ball of fat, or you can argue it's a good counterpoint.

                                    I gave up on in-restaurant Z's a while ago. Besides the likely long wait, their beer selection leaves much to be desired. I think it's sierra nevada or nothing, maybe steam? With all the great beers local, that's just wrong. The right beer with their pizza is much lighter, like a Sudwerk or even Pyramid. Come to think of it, the Asian pilsners - Tsing Dao, Harbin, Singha - are perfect, although sacreligious. I wonder if there's such a thing as corkage for beer.

                                    I suspect the issue with Z's, for Chicagoans, is the abnormal crust and sauce. I like the change, but if you're comparing to "pizza of your childhood" it's just different.

                                    But now I live in Palo Alto, and thus have Paxti's. Paxti's doesn't do that thing with the crust, and the sauce is a bit richer and deeper - I'll prefer the brightness of Z's, but I don't turn down Paxti's. I don't like the in-restaurant amenities of Paxti's. The room's kind of cold and the service glacial. If the pie's going to take 25 minutes, give me a menu and get my order in less than 15! They do have a beer selection, however. But I had a fridge full of Paxti's last weekend, with an over-order at work, and I've got a higher opinion of them now. The sauce is more deeply spiced, so the tomato doesn't blast through, thus a more "pizza" taste. Tasty enough, but they don't replace the default delivery order of Pizza-a-gogo BBQ chicken thin crust.

                                    Will either of these scratch your itch for Chicago? No idea, but it'll cost you about $40 to find out. Reading these boards is funny that way, like a 4th generation chicagoan who never had deep or stuffed thus offers an opinion, and someone who says Z's is the worst pizza in the bay area, which would make a great topic in itself - worst pizza in the bay area. I doubt the consensus for worst would include Z's.

                                    Please report back....

                                    19 Replies
                                    1. re: bbulkow
                                      s
                                      sugarbuzz Apr 12, 2008 02:55 PM

                                      I would guess that Zachary's would be one of the worst seeing how most reviews around here are extremely negative.
                                      I've eaten at alot of pizza places around the bay area. With 3 kids you can bet that I've had to stop at almost every one while on outings around the area.
                                      Zach's is right up there in the worst with Domino's & Round Table.

                                      1. re: bbulkow
                                        rworange Apr 12, 2008 03:17 PM

                                        This was a great post ... and actually makes me want to finally give Z's deep dish a try ... only tried a thin-crust slice so far.

                                        Thought the beer comment was interesting and started a topic on the General Board.
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/508747

                                        1. re: rworange
                                          bbulkow Apr 18, 2008 02:08 AM

                                          Geeze, that's a huge thread. A point is missed --- too many types to generalize. Indeed, who could refuse two slices at Lanesplitter with whatever's on the cask? Perfection. Yet, what do they sell at CheeseBoard, peroni and a fair amount of wine -- that's right for their pizza. I wouldn't swap the two.

                                          1. re: bbulkow
                                            ChowFun_derek Apr 18, 2008 08:08 AM

                                            My experience of Lanesplitter Pizza was that it was just average " American Pizza" I ordered a whole pie and ate 'inhouse'
                                            It may be my Brooklyn "Pizza Snob" background however..

                                            1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                              Glencora Apr 18, 2008 09:20 AM

                                              Lanesplitter is my idea of the typical American pizza I ate -- and loved-- as a kid. And I'm from here. Zachary's thin crust just wasn't right, IMO.

                                              1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                Robert Lauriston Apr 18, 2008 10:06 AM

                                                Most West Coast pizzerias take their pies out of the oven when they're just golden brown or earlier. Lanesplitter (usually) bakes East Coast style, until the crust is crisp with some black and blistered spots.

                                                For best results, order a 15" Carnivore or Heartstopper. The 19" pies aren't as reliable and some of the other combinations load up the toppings too much.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  c
                                                  chemchef Apr 18, 2008 11:16 AM

                                                  That's interesting. All the pies I've had from Lanesplitter have been underbaked, to my taste, not crisp with black and blistered spots at all.

                                                  1. re: chemchef
                                                    ChowFun_derek Apr 19, 2008 08:50 AM

                                                    That was my experience the one time I went there...perhaps you have to ask them to make it "well done"

                                          2. re: bbulkow
                                            tonyarose Apr 16, 2008 11:13 PM

                                            So I've read a lot of really negative comments on Zachary's, and I don't really understand. I've eaten fancier pizza at Pizzaiolo and I can't really remember what it tastes like, which for me signals that it isn't memorable in the long term (at least for me).

                                            I think that what makes me like Zachary's so much is that I was vegan for a long time, and am still vegetarian. I am also a huge sauce fan, and can't really handle excessive cheese that a lot of pizzas have. A piece of Zachary's is like eating bread with sauce, and the cheese is very secondary. I like that a lot. I also agree that the brightness of the sauce is really nice.

                                            However, I think of Zachary's as comfort food, not gourmet pizza.

                                            1. re: tonyarose
                                              c
                                              chemchef Apr 17, 2008 08:35 AM

                                              Are you talking about Zacharys' deep dish or thin crust? To me, they are miles apart.

                                              1. re: chemchef
                                                Robert Lauriston Apr 17, 2008 09:07 AM

                                                tonyarose must be talking about the stuffed deep dish. It really is like eating a big helping of tomato sauce (or spinach) out of a bread bowl.

                                                I like sopping up tomato sauce with bread, but I'd much rather do it with better sauce than Zachary's and a nice crusty loaf of Acme.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  c
                                                  chemchef Apr 17, 2008 09:37 AM

                                                  I agree, that's why I like their thin crust pizza better. At least for that nostalgic, non-gourmet pizza experience.

                                                  1. re: chemchef
                                                    Robert Lauriston Apr 17, 2008 10:09 AM

                                                    What does Zachary's thin-crust make you nostalgic for? Their crust is so eccentric it doesn't remind me of anything except the Cheese Board / Arizmendi.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                      c
                                                      chemchef Apr 17, 2008 10:25 AM

                                                      Zachary's crust is nothing like Cheesboard's, in my opinion. I also don't find anything eccentric about it. Their thin crust pizza reminds me of the pizza we used to get when we went out on Friday nights as a kid. I grew up in So Cal, so we didn't have Zachary's necessarily, but it just reminds me of they that style. Its not my favorite pizza, by any means, but sometimes I crave that little piece of my childhood.

                                                      I know that you have very different thoughts about pizza, Robert, but some of us grew up on that stuff so it just kind of takes us back... and I'd rather have it from Zachary's than any of the other chain restaurants that don't do nearly as good a job with it.

                                                      1. re: chemchef
                                                        Robert Lauriston Apr 17, 2008 10:53 AM

                                                        Zachary's thin crust is like Cheese Board's in that it doesn't have much stretch, it's all crunch. Seems cracker-like to me. I think it's the same dough they use for the deep-dish. Ironically, that means the thin crust never gets the least bit soggy.

                                                        I like Zachary's thin-crust bianca with Mexican chorizo with chiles once in a while as a change of pace. I can't imagine ordering that as a deep-dish.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          c
                                                          chemchef Apr 17, 2008 10:58 AM

                                                          To me, the difference is the fact that the Cheeseboard uses a sourdough based crust, which makes it less crispy and more chewy. I like it, but I also like the crispy crust of Zachary's thin crust. Not exactly sure what you mean by "stretch"; maybe we're talking about the same thing. Also, I like that the crust doesn't get soggy... it makes it great for leftovers!

                                                          I haven't had that Bianca you spoke of, but it sounds good. I wouldn't order any of them as a deep dish.

                                                          1. re: chemchef
                                                            oakjoan Apr 17, 2008 10:32 PM

                                                            I abhor! Yes, that's right, I ABHOR Zachary's Stuffed Pizza. It's like ordering spaghetti and having the waiter ladle 4 cups of sauce onto it. And the tomato sauce is off-tasting. Ptooooey.

                                                            Funny that Cheese Board's crust is "all crunch", I rarely get over to the CB and rely instead on Arizmendi, which is just down the hill from my house in Oakland. I thought they got the recipe for their pizza from Cheese Board, but their crust is chewy and wonderful, not crispy. Guess I misunderstood the connection btwn CB and Ariz.

                                                            1. re: oakjoan
                                                              c
                                                              chemchef Apr 18, 2008 07:41 AM

                                                              No, you got it right. And, I agree, I haven't been to Arizmendi, but Cheeseboard's crust is much more chewy than crispy/crunchy in my opinion.

                                                              I'm curious, have you tried Zachary's thin crust pizza? I also hate the stuffed one there, but the thin is totally different. Even down to the sauce that they use.

                                              2. re: tonyarose
                                                bbulkow Apr 18, 2008 02:10 AM

                                                Pfeh on "gourmet". Are we not hounds?

                                            2. rowdyricky Sep 12, 2008 02:07 PM

                                              Well after many years of hearing about this place I ventured to it. I got lucky and had a parking place right in front 10 feet from the door at 1145 am. on a Thursday. I had called in for my order
                                              I saddle up and paid. My stuffed, NOT DEEP DISH, mushroom and pepperoni would be ready in 8 minutes. The people were nice it was clean . A great place for a lunch. Mine was to go. Got it, was heavy Placed inside my car and home in 15 minutes . Opened, still too hot to eat. OK. Wheres the pepperoni . I see some mushrooms. Cooled it off took a bite. WHAT THE THE BIG DEAL. It reminded me of Round Table pizza. I love Round Table. The sauce is tangy lots of herbs.But Round T. have more fresh mushroom and pepperoni. Zach is different , lots of chunky tomatoes...which is nice i guess. BUT ...what is the deal all about ?
                                              Sorry
                                              You all are caught in a marketing type frenzy or something it is not that impressive. Blondie was/ is good pizza. I will try the thin crust next time I am in the 'hood, This is really nothing to be ga ga over

                                              1. n
                                                NewDude Jan 19, 2009 11:50 AM

                                                Zachary's is very, very popular and is a Berkeley institution. Every time I've gone, there has been a huge crowd of people eating, waiting in line inside, waiting in line outside, and milling about before and after their meal. It's more of a community gathering spot more than anything else.

                                                A lot of my friends are really crazy about this place, and I've gone along just to make them happy.

                                                About the pizza. It's not worth the hype. It's good food. it's filling. It's tasty. BUT. There is WAY too much pizza sauce. And it's extremely salty, in a generic way. It completely overwhelms the taste of the crust and any taste the toppings might have. All I can remember is that salty tomato sauce!

                                                It's a fun, energetic place, and you will never leave hungry. But considering it's popularity, it's a pretty underwhelming food experience.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: NewDude
                                                  b
                                                  bayareatiger Jan 19, 2009 09:00 PM

                                                  Our fav there is the deep dish with pepperoni (they shred, no round slices), garlic, and jalapenos(after experimenting with other components) . We find that's a real good mix o'meat, garlic, and heat. Unfortunately, because of the heaviness of this pie, we only go there every 3-4 months (despite the fact that we would certainly like to eat it more often)..

                                                2. Jumbo_Jack Apr 14, 2009 01:32 PM

                                                  I've always wondered if it's the ethos of the board to dislike places that become too popular or become institutions...

                                                  After eating Zachary's 'chicago style' pizza for more than a decade, I remember my first trip to Chicago and being incredibly excited to try out 'real' Chicago pizza. I rented my car and found two places I could get to before and after my conference.

                                                  The Chicago pizza was tasty, but I was left with an 'I love living in the Bay Area' feeling afterwards... I prefer Zachary's, even with all its lines and whatnot. (hint: go and do everything you want in Berkeley during Spring break or right after graduations)

                                                  Zachary's has a zestier sauce than what I've had in Chicago and I do enjoy the spinach and mushroom. I still don't get why they can't put spinach on anything else though...

                                                  It's worth trying out.

                                                  Pizza diversity is a good thing.

                                                  12 Replies
                                                  1. re: Jumbo_Jack
                                                    d
                                                    Deeg67 Apr 14, 2009 04:48 PM

                                                    I like Zachary's (and it's spinoff, Patxi's) a lot, but as a lifelong Chicagoan I can only say - sounds like you went to the wrong two places...

                                                    1. re: Jumbo_Jack
                                                      l
                                                      luckytomato Apr 14, 2009 05:11 PM

                                                      Having gone to undergrad in Berkeley, I have fond memories of splurging and getting the stuffed spinach and mushroom pizza from Zachary's. It was a real treat, especially after having grown up eating Pizza Hut. I still try to pick up a half baked pie from Zachary's whenever I'm in the East Bay.

                                                      1. re: Jumbo_Jack
                                                        Robert Lauriston Apr 14, 2009 05:50 PM

                                                        Zachary's stuffed deep-dish is soggy and doughy because they use too much tomato sauce, the sauce is too wet, and they ladle some of that wet sauce on top of the top layer of dough

                                                        Their thin-crust pizza bianca is okay.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          singleguychef Apr 15, 2009 10:54 AM

                                                          I agree that they use too much tomato sauce. It gives it a real high acidity feeling when eating the stuff deep-dish because of all the tomatoes you're getting. That's why I end up getting the thin pizzas instead. (I do love the Mediterranean because I just love artichokes.)

                                                          1. re: singleguychef
                                                            d
                                                            Deeg67 Apr 15, 2009 03:49 PM

                                                            But y'know - that's a stuffed pizza. That's what it is. The extra layer of dough with more sauce on top is what differentiates a stuffed from a deep dish or "pan" pizza. You can debates the merits of the sauce Zachary's uses, but the format itself is 100% true to the style. Rather than the specifics of the pizza, I suspect you guys just don't like the style - nothing wrong with that. I know a lot of Chicagoans who prefer thin crust, too. it's all a matter of personal taste.

                                                            1. re: Deeg67
                                                              Robert Lauriston Apr 16, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                              Stuffed pizza can be good, I just think Zachary's does it wrong.

                                                              Compare Giordano's:

                                                              http://elbalsero.net/giordanos%20pizza%20%20front.JPG

                                                              And Zachary's:

                                                              http://epicurious.blogs.com/photos/un...

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                d
                                                                Deeg67 Apr 16, 2009 08:52 PM

                                                                Well, I was born in Chicago and lived there for 27 years, so I've had more than a few stuffed pizzas in my life and I'm telling you - Zachary's is stuffed pizza. That's the form, even at Giordano's (which I would estimate I've eaten well over 100 times) which doesn't taste - or even look - all that different from Zachary's. Yes, it's better - but it's also 2200 miles away from me while Zach's is 30 and Paxti's about 15. But it's not better because it's different in design - they just do a little better job with the sauce, and the crust had a little more umami to it, or something... Maybe it's the Chicago water, but compared to other left coast attempts at the style Zachary's is very good and very authentic.

                                                                On the topic, I would also point out that there are many local pizza shops in Chicago that do stuffed quite a bit better than Giordano's - good for a chain, but still a chain. And many more that do deep-dish that's better than Girodano's, and for which Little Star is the most authentic version in the Bay Area. I would say Zachary's/Paxti's (Paxti's is a hair better) would probably fall somewhere in the middle of the pack for stuffed if they were in Chicago. Nothing I'd drive out of my way for there, but a veritable Mecca out here.

                                                                1. re: Deeg67
                                                                  l
                                                                  luckytomato Apr 17, 2009 12:37 PM

                                                                  What combination do you usually get at Patxi's? I'm thinking of getting a pizza to go and am debating between the Special (sausage, mushrooms, onions and green peppers) and the Spinach Pesto (spinach, basil pesto, and parmesan). Would the spinach pesto have tomato sauce on it in addition to the pesto?

                                                                  1. re: luckytomato
                                                                    d
                                                                    Deeg67 Apr 17, 2009 12:56 PM

                                                                    Well, I'm a traditionalist - so between those two I go with the former. I would guess the pesto probably wouldn't have tomato sauce. I tend not to like a ton of ingredients on my pizza anyway, though - when I go to Patxi's I generally get only one or two ingredients. I like their sausage, pepperoni, kalamata olives, fresh garlic, mushrooms - any one or two of those. If I'm feeling nontraditional, I might get jalapenos.

                                                                  2. re: Deeg67
                                                                    p
                                                                    P. Punko Apr 21, 2009 12:56 AM

                                                                    I agree with this, only having been to Giordano's and Zachary's once each. They were very much the same genre, in fact they were the same species. I actually like that Zachary's has a lot of sauce. I don't want all my pizzas that way, but that is how I like it at Zachary's.

                                                                  3. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    k
                                                                    katya Apr 22, 2009 03:10 PM

                                                                    I have to say I prefer the picture of the Zachary's pizza. The bane of my pizza existence is places that put on too much cheese and throw off the cheese/sauce ratio. It's like cupcake places where half the volume is frosting.

                                                                    This debate is generally pretty stupid. Some people like Zachary's, some people don't. Everyone, we get it. And it hurts my eyes every time I see "Zackary's" in the subject heading.

                                                                    Here's my ranking of thick/stuffed pizza in the Bay Area:

                                                                    1) Zachary's (their pepperoni is very underappreciated)
                                                                    2) Little Star (I almost made it first; Little Star is the sole reason we go on pilgrimages to SF every few weeks - my husband is obsessed)
                                                                    --- (demarcation of different echelon)
                                                                    3) Patxi's
                                                                    --- (another demarcation)
                                                                    4) Windy City
                                                                    5) Pizz'a Chicago (just for the Blackhawk)
                                                                    6) BJ's (better than you might think)

                                                                    Here's my list with detailed reviews:

                                                                    I Like My Pizza Down and Dirty Chicago Style
                                                                    http://www.yelp.com/list/i-like-my-pi...

                                                            2. re: Jumbo_Jack
                                                              JasmineG Apr 19, 2009 10:47 AM

                                                              You can get spinach on other things, you just have to order "spinach and mushroom without the mushroom" and then ask for whatever else you want on it too.

                                                            3. c
                                                              chilihead2006 Apr 17, 2009 04:45 PM

                                                              Chicago deep dish pizza has to be one of the most unhealthy meals on the planet. We lived in the Chicago area for a year an went to Lou Malnati's for deep dish...once. We ate a couple of slices and left the rest there. Our friends took us to Zachary's in Rockridge as a surprise, knowing we used to live in Chicago. Not one of the best meals we've had. What can I say...I'm a card-carrying pizza snob from NY. :)

                                                              Now Portillo's is an entirely different story...Chicago food is awesome except for their pizza, IMHO. Their sausage on a roll loaded with onions, giardinera and sport peppers is fantastic. Okay, not exactly organic, but a simple delicious meal. It's got me drooling on my keyboard.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: chilihead2006
                                                                d
                                                                Deeg67 Apr 17, 2009 05:38 PM

                                                                I love Italian beef and sausage, but next time you go to Chicago go to a real Chicago beef place - not a chain like Portillo's!

                                                                As for NY pizza, well - saltines 'n ketchup, mmmm. But to each his own - pizza is a big category and we're loyal to what we know. Understand, though, that Lou Malnati's is a different style than Zachary's - deep-dish vs. stuffed. For a startlingly good rendition of what Lou Malnati's does, try Little Star.

                                                                1. re: Deeg67
                                                                  Robert Lauriston Apr 18, 2009 09:14 AM

                                                                  Little Star's deep-dish is very good.

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