Red rum, muppets and pizza – welcome to Pie Hole

Red rum, muppets and pizza – welcome to Pie Hole

For our date night on Saturday, the wife and I kept it simple and opted for slices of pizza at Pie Hole Pizza Joint, 3477 N. Broadway, Chicago.

It's a nicely decorated place, though seating is limited, which I'm beginning to learn is fairly par for the course along restaurant row on Broadway. But it's welcoming and the staff is friendly.

The menu is fun, with names such as Cher and Cher Alike, Lasagnizza and Barbie Q and plenty of asides in describing the items. The winner of best menu item name, however, must go to the Snuffle Greekupagus Salad. No, it doesn't make any sense. Large mastadon-shaped muppets and Greeks salads typically don't go together. But it's just fun to say.

They also do desserts, such as baked-to-order brownie bites, home-baked chocolate chip cookies, toffee pizza and – what tempts me most – "red rum" velvet cake. Red velvet cake batter flavored with Bacardi rum, baked and then smothered in homemade cream cheese frosting. It says on the menu that Paula Deen would love it. I don't disagree. It sounds delicious. And terribly unhealthy. This is not something I should ever order.

But while there are plenty of whole pizza specialties, salads and appetizers – including pie holes, "made-to-order poppable balls of pizza crust coated with basil pesto sauce or olive oil and Parmesan and baked golden brown" – we decided to keep it simple and go for individual slices.

I'm a big fan of pizza slices. A whole pizza is too much food for one setting unless I'm with a group, and I really don't need to be eating leftover pizza for three days.

And Pie Hole makes individual slices made-to-order, something I have very rarely seen at other pizza joints that sell slices. At many of these places, if the name of the slice you want doesn't start and end with pepperoni, sausage or cheese, you're out of luck.

At Pie Hole, however, you have plenty of choices. At a price, of course – 50 cents each for most toppings, though a few are half-priced. The base price is $2.99.

They do just about every type of pizza cheese you can think of, and even some you wouldn't normally think of, such as feta and vegan cheese. They have all of the basic meat toppings, as well as anchovies (which are half-priced if you dare). And the "vegetational options" are expansive, with unique treats such as portobello mushrooms, Kalamata olives, pineapple, and my personal favorite – mini marshmallows.

Of course, after listing all these wonderful toppings, I must admit that I went with the basic plain cheese slice. When it comes to pizza, I prefer simple. Sometimes I'll go with black olives, but that's about it. Of course, I'll eat any type of pizza put in front of me – including one with mini marshmallows – but if I'm ordering, I like plain cheese.

It was good, though. Tasty and not too greasy. I didn't feel like I had to use a napkin after every bite. And the crust was ever so slightly burnt, which I love. The size was just right, as well. Two slices are good for dinner, but one slice would be plenty for lunch.

We live fairly close to Pie Hole, so I'm sure I'll be back. Just keep me away from that "red rum" velvet cake.

Going for Gusto is a blog by Joe Grace. Columns posted Mondays and Thursdays. Videos, lists and quick thoughts posted throughout the week. Send questions, comments and blog ideas to joewriter81@gmail.com.

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