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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, May 30

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Closings Thu Oct 29 2015

The End of a Reservations-Only Era: Burt's Place

I had heard to be patient. Call and hope they answer the phone, and make sure you have your reservation date and pizza order ready, even though there was no website to use (I found a menu that a member of LTH Forum had uploaded years back). Don't be late, pay in cash, and don't even think about adding on anything to your order once you get there. In an era of super sizes and selling anything and everything off a menu, Burt's Place went against the grain. Overseen by the heavily bearded and heavily introverted Burt Katz, whose pizza pedigree was responsible for the distinctive, caramelized cheese crust that put Pequod's on the map, Burt's Place was full of wild rules and wild characters; Burt's wife Sharon boasted repeatedly during my one (and only) visit that "people tell me I'm on TV all the time" (Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" made a visit a few years back) as she served pizza on an IHOP-branded plate, and RC Cola that I was positive came from a two-liter bottle. The room was dimly lit, nearly silent except for a small radio, dusty and full of yellowed newspaper clippings and old advertisements pinned to the walls. I felt like I was in a basement of a beloved, quirky grandfather, but instead we were in a small storefront in Morton Grove. As pizzas baked in the oven, Burt and Sharon sat in a booth in the back, quietly staring at the two occupied tables in the room. It was a busy night for them.

Their pizza was good--similar to Pequod's, but you could tell the ingredient quality was far better than his former business, which held court only a few blocks away. After closing abruptly several months ago (with the notion that it would be temporary), it was announced today that Burt's will close permanently. It's a shame for pizza lovers everywhere, who clearly knew that a trip to Burt's was well worth the effort. If you got a table, or even a takeout reservation, it wasn't because you happened upon this place; it's because you researched, planned, and spent several afternoons on the phone at work, hoping someone answered your call. I'm glad to say I was one of the lucky ones.

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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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