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Openings Sat Mar 30 2013

Rough-Hewn Pizza at Homeslice Wheel House

Homeslice Wheel HouseWhen I was around 10, I went through a (long) phase where I refused to eat anything normal 10-year-olds ate. Burgers? No. Birthday cake? Hell no. Pizza? Not unless it has fancy toppings on it, so basically, no. When I was first introduced to barbeque chicken pizza, it felt like it arrived accompanied by choirs of singing angels, not to mention the relieved sighs of my parents -- no marinara sauce, no spicy meat products, plenty of cheese and sticky sweet chicken. But childhood memory can be a bitch -- for a long time, no real BBQ chicken pie has lived up to mistily shrouded recollections of picky 10-year-old eater bliss.

Until I tried the Knife and Forker at the new Homeslice Wheel House, Lincoln Park's grown-up refuge from the college-student inundated pizza and beer scene. And McGee's and those snobs at the Local Option had best watch their backs. Homeslice's version is like the Platonic form of barbeque chicken pizza: shredded chicken bolstered with spicy pepperoni, dark sweet barbeque sauce and finely sliced red onion for just a touch of acidity, draped with perfectly blistered cheddar, mozarella and provolone. This, with 12 beers on tap and a cocktail menu! My childhood heart be still, my grown-up liver rejoice.

Homeslice Wheel House barThe pizza menu is extensive, and picks from all parts of the grocery store -- pies like the Natealicious delve more into Italian territory while keeping it nontraditional, with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and enough creamily roasted garlic cloves to make your date PROVE how much they love you later; while the Mr. Sanchez veers down Mexico way, topped with blackened chicken, salsa, sour cream and all the best fixings of a nacho plate. Classicists should find refuge in the Bennett's Beauty (pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella, mushrooms, marinara) but such standbys are hardly the norm on a broad and well-executed menu. For all, the crust is thin but chewy, nicely crisped and blistered on the edges but doughy enough to make this feel like a real meal, and to stand up to the mound of toppings. A very tasty whole-wheat crust is available on small and medium pies.

The service was underwhelming (our server gave us the broad categories of beers on tap rather than any actual names) but also resulted in our receiving an accidental second appetizer -- faults that will hopefully work themselves out as the Homeslice crew settles into their rhythms. On the other hand, owners Josh Iachelli (formerly of Keefer's Steakhouse) and Clay Hamilton are ever-present, glad-handing their patrons and making sure everyone's as happy with their pizzas as they are. Hamilton noted the impetus for building a log-cabin pizzeria was rooted in his own Pacific Northwest upbringing and the simple desire to eat the kind of pizza he'd enjoyed in Oregon without road tripping across the country. (Note to my 10-year-old self -- Oregon pizza! We were living in the wrong state!)

In a fully transformed space, formerly Enoteca Piattini but empty since 2009, with log-cabin bones but urbane style, edison bulbs cast a cozy glow over seemingly rough edges of wood slab highboys smoothed by a liberal layer of shellac, and burnished glazed concrete floors. Homeslice has been open for a few weeks now, and clearly wants to make a nice home for March Madness devotees -- but includes a beaded wall curtain that can be pulled over the central bank of televisions to tone down the sports bar feeling. Hamilton designed the cozy but sophisticated space, including the the penny-tiled bathrooms. See if you can find the dime in the ladies'. I double-dog dare you.

Homeslice Wheel House
938 W. Webster
312-789-4600

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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