Monday, January 14, 2013

Don’t Go Suspecting Our Motives…

Yes, we were unhappy with our pizza from Oregano’s, but wanting a good pizza wasn’t the reason that we suggested Rocco’s Little Chicago (in Tucson) for our dinner with Mitch and Alex. We thought that this would be a place that they would enjoy.

We were pleased to have as our guests for this informal dinner Chuck's cousin Dora's grandson Mitch (left) and his good friend Alex (below). Both are freshmen in the Honors Program at the University of Arizona (in Tucson). Mitch is from Illinois and Alex from Colorado.

Mitch and Alex both had busy schedules with responsibilities outside the academic world.
The evening went very fast as the conversation touched on the early stages of the guys' college plans, their brief appearances on ESPN (but that's a story for them to tell), changes in Plainfield (IL) in the 50 years since Chuck graduated from the one high school in town to Mitch's graduation from one of the four high schools in town.

Mitch’s eyes lit up when he realized that Rocco’s serves the famous stuffed crust pizza made famous on numerous TV food programs as served at Giordano’s (Mitch’s favorite).

“Rocco's specializes in two ‘famous’ Chicago-style pizzas: stuffed and thin crust.…The novelty at Rocco's is the stuffed pizza, which is so far removed from the commercial variety that there's absolutely no comparison.

"Rocco's stuffed pies consist of two distinct crusts, one on the bottom and the other covering the top. At first, this may seem like an inordinate amount of bread to deal with, but Rocco's layers are both relatively thin and completely delicious.
"A selection of toppings constitutes the pie's filling, and then the whole is capped with sauce…By the time the pizza arrives, it looks like a deep-dish cheese number, but once you cut into it, a marvel of abundance awaits…. No wonder those Chicago folks rave about their pizza!” (tucsonweekly.com).
Alex had never eaten this Chicago classic, but was game to share with Mitch the large pie stuffed with Italian sausage. Large it was.

And stuffed it was. I would have had a hard time finishing one slice (wedge) but both Mitch and Alex polished off their first two with little problem. Just when they were ready to have the remainder boxed, Alex, proclaiming that this might have been the best pizza he has ever eaten, persuaded Mitch to share another wedge. After two and a half wedges each they both thought that a nap was in order. The remaining three slices went back with them to be shared with friends.

Of course, Chuck and I chose the thin crust sausage with light cheese. This was the pizza we were looking for.
First, look at all of that sausage! Lean. Flavorful. Seasoned with fennel.

And the crust. Yes, it was thin. But Rocco’s manages to pack a lot of flavor into that thin crust. And that is not always the case with many thin crust pizzerias. A reviewer for the Tucson Weekly described it as “buttery,” and I would have to agree.

The sauce tasted of garlic and herbs with perhaps a hint of red pepper flake, the cheese was all mozzarella and none of that four cheese blend stuff. And best of all--it was cut into squares.

It was the Midwest pizza of our (Mitch’s, Chuck’s, and mine) childhood memories (and an introduction to Midwest pizza for Alex) right here in Tucson.

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