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DINING: Second City-inspired pizzeria wants to be second to none

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Dining - A&E

This month, we hit four dining establishments all just steps from the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

First stop: South of Chicago Pizza and Beef. (619 E. Virginia Ave., 203-7110)

ae-chicago-pizza03-15col.jpg The deep dish pizza at South of Chicago features ingredients shipped from the Windy City. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Usually, I don’t quote from restaurant websites, instead letting the food and atmosphere of a place speak for itself. However, I can’t resist this bit of big-shouldered hubris regarding the pizza competition in Indy:

“Being from the south side of Chicago, we encountered a culture shock! The pizza here is really aweful. I stress, aweful. … I’m here to do what I can to set a new standard on how pizza should be.”

So, without a spell checker but with dough made daily from scratch, fresh Italian sausage, house-made meatballs and most ingredients shipped from the Windy City, how does South of Chicago do?

Not bad, actually.

On our visit, both of the small-ish dining rooms were crowded with conventioning firefighters, giving the place an added shot of authenticity. Clearly not designed to accommodate even a small all-you-can-eat buffet ($8.99), South of Chicago has added one nonetheless, jamming it into a corner where a pair of deep dish pizzas, a steam table of baked pasta, a basic pasta bar and drinks kept a steady stream of customers on their feet.

Don’t be surprised if you get your chair bumped or an elbow to your side. But, hey, we’re all friends here, right?

The pizza, of course, is the primary concern. No, it’s neither Chicago’s own Gino’s nor Giordano’s, with its elephantine slices that you can lift only with the help of two friends or a forklift. True Chicago pizza-masters like chunks: chunks of meat combined with chunks of tomato.

Here, the pizzeria had about half the toppings you’d expect at the source. But don’t get me wrong, these aren’t delicate slices by any stretch of the imagination or waistband. Two slices is plenty for most mortals outside a 15-mile radius of Wrigley Field.

Outside the buffet, a 14” Deep Dish Pizza with two toppings runs $16.49, well within the range of pricing you’ll find closer to Lake Michigan.

Pizza isn’t the only way to go here, but whatever the case, arrive hungry. The limited menu of alternatives includes a monster of a Meatball Sandwich ($6.49) featuring juicy, marinara-soaked orbs slathered in cheese ($1 upcharge) melted into the delicious bun. If only I had an entire family with me to share it. Fries on the side were perfectly acceptable.

The Italian Beef & Sausage Combo ($7.49) isn’t for the lighthearted (or heart-conscious), either, with enough beef to quickly collapse the roll in which it’s wrapped.

There’s Eli’s Cheesecake ($1.99) and Tiramisu ($2.99) and ice cream dessert options, but who are they kidding? We had enough trouble getting back to the office as it is.•

__________

First in a month-long series of Indianapolis Cultural Trail restaurant reviews.

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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