New Jersey Nick and the Chicago Foodscape Part 2

Ready for part 2? Get excited! Lets learn about Chicago-style deep dish pizza and the best burger I had in the state of Illinois!

The Pizza We Know….- One of the food types I don’t bother to review regularly is Pizza. In New Jersey, 99.999999% of all pizza places serve New York Style Pizza (or as I call it, New Jersey Style). Its well known that New York New Jersey Pizza is routinely the country’s best and almost always reliably delicious. No New Jerseyan needs some foodie to tell you that all of the pizza is good. Seriously, my reviews would get boring because they’d all be the same. If a local place is no good, you generally know to avoid it until it goes out of business.

The Pizza We Don’t Know….- But in the strange and foreign land of Illinois, the pizza is different. Its got thick crust baked in a deep pan. The sauce goes…on top? Weird. It looks so unfamiliar that I had to try it. Therefore, one of my big goals during my recent vacation to Chicago was to eat some of the mysterious Chicago-Style deep dish Pizza.

Gino’s East- The only deep dish pizza place I knew before going was Gino’s East. I’d seen this restaurant featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, so I figured that their pizza would be a good start. fearing. The dough was an inch thick and very bready.

Writing on everything - At Gino’s, the walls are entirely covered with peoples signatures and messages, and they encourage you to leave your mark too. I figured that I would be unique and right New Jersey Nick into the patchwork of the striped tablecloth, but I was immediately admonished for doing so. Apparently you can write on almost everything, but not the bathroom walls, lighting fixtures or tablecloths. So much for being a rebel.

The Deep Dish - Look at the mush of pizza on my plate! The dough was about 2 inches thick, and the there was a layer of mozzarella on top that was super stretchy like a mozzarella stick. On top, there was a ton of sauce. It was almost as if someone spilled the Ragu all over the pie. The whole thing comes together as a strange bread filled lasagna. And if you are wondering, yes, I had to eat it with a fork and knife.

Overall, a weird pie, to be sure. It wasn’t bad (it was quite good, actually), but it wasn’t what I’d call pizza. I’m a diehard New Jerseyan in many ways, and I only vote for NJ Pizza. Period. So, yeah, I liked that Chicago pie as an alternative, but not a replacement. If I called up and ordered a pizza, and the delivery boy brought a deep dish pie to my house he’d get punched in the mouth.

Back to the Burgers - Pizza’s good, but what I like best is burgers. If you know me personally, you know that I love burgers and that I love heavy metal music. Thats why everybody I know in Chicago told me I had to check out Kuma’s Korner. It was like burger heaven.

Kuma’s Korner- is a celebration of all that I love. Its a small bar and bistro with loud music and big burgers. Its a great coming together my carnivorous appetite and my heavy metal habit.

The Appetizer- before we got to the burgers, we went for an appetizer. Kuma’s had choices like Spicy Chicken Nuggets, Bacon Bleu Cheese Fries, and Fried Calamari, but, when we read the words ‘BBQ Pork Fries’ we knew which appetizer we were getting. This thing was huge. A mountain of fries, melting cheese, BBQ sauce, and a mound of pulled pork buried underneath. It was an appetizer that could have been split between 4 or 5 hungry diners, but my wife and I had go pack as much away before the burgers came as we could.

The Metallica

The Mighty Burgers -They’ve got almost 20 burgers on the menu and they’re all named after metal bands like Black Sabbath (made with blackening spices, and covered with chili, pepper jack, and red onion), Pantera (with roasted poblano pepper, bacon, chedder and monterey jack, ranchero sauce, and tortilla strips) and Led Zeppelin (covered with pulled pork, bacon, cheddar). My wife loves Metallica and couldn’t resist buying the burger named after them (don’t tell Lars or he may show up looking for his cut of the profits!) The Metallica burger was tasty, with buffalo sauce, bleu cheese and bacon. Much like the band, it was good, but not quite the best overall. I wonder if the burger was better in the 80′s, too? Yes, I can make Metallica jokes all day.


I loved the Mastodon burger, and not just because its named after one of my favorite modern metal bands. It was a big beef patty covered with bacon, cheddar and thick and heavy A1-style BBQ sauce. On top of that was a huge a huge pile of onion frazzles. It was probably the best BBQ burgers I’ve had anywhere.

Because of the huge appetizer, though, I couldn’t finish my fries. I felt like a wuss. Doubly so, since I was at the most badass burger place ever. This place was so cool. If Kuma’s Korner was in New Jersey, I’d eat there all the time. It was like my own personal heaven. Plus, unlike Gino’s East, I totally wrote my name on the bathroom wall and nobody told me not to.

So, yes, Chicago has some great food worth checking out. You can try out pizza the likes of which you will never have in the Garden State and some great away from home burgers. I know what you really want, though. So now that my Chicago diversion is over, I’ll be back in the next week or so with a Jersey based review. See you then!