Hello, pizza enthusiasts and fans of the Maestro and the Doc.
And here, you thought that we might have moved on. You might have thought that I was too consumed by my reasonably popular psychology blog or the inspirational-within-reason Dr. Glenn Doyle Facebook page to rhapsodize about pizza. You might have figured that all I write about on Facebook anymore are daily updates on my day-by-day trudge through the Old and New Testaments and/or my year-long quest to attend 52 different Catholic churches in the Chicago area for Mass in 2018. You might have thought that the Maestro is too busy writing about the life and times of Rossini or getting cookies with fellow conductors in karts to write about pizza.
My friends, my friends– lend me your ears. For I assure you: the Maestro and I will always have, nay, FIND time to write about pizza. For our respective passion for pizza cannot be dimmed. It cannot be extinguished. And it can never, ever be sated.
Worry not, dear ones. We shall always return to you with tales of crust and sauce and cheese.
Pizzeria Bebu, in Lincoln Park, was a nice return to our mutual passion.
It’s located just off of North Avenue, sandwiched between the Old Town district and Goose Island. The aesthetic is kind of Chipotle-esque; somewhat minimalist, kind of industrial, lots of clean lines and metal and blonde wood. Not a lot of padding on the seats, which I only mention because (HUMBLEBRAG ALERT) I’ve lost a hair over sixty pounds in the last year, and my ass isn’t as padded as it once was.
For maybe the first time in recent (or distant) memory, I beat the Maestro there, and killed time reading a book about energy psychology on my Kindle until he showed up.
(I don’t know what I think about energy psychology. I believe in things a lot flakier than energy fields– notably, God and prayer– but I’m also realistic enough to know that it’s poor form to insert my flaky beliefs into an ostensibly research-derived discipline for which I’m charging patients money. That is to say, I need to learn more about energy psychology before I start tapping meridian points on people and expecting revolutionary results.)
Once the Maestro arrived and we got to talking– largely about our respective battles with iliotibial band syndrome, which basically ended his love affair with running years ago and is presently threatening to make my next marathon in November suck more than the giant maid spaceship in “Spaceballs”– I proceeded to make the afternoon more exciting than it would otherwise be by gesticulating wildly and knocking over my water.
The pies at Bebu are all one-size-fits-all 14” jobs with relatively thin, but still doughy, crust. I’d say the menu at Bebu is probably one of the more interesting and imaginative ones we’ve encountered in recent memory. Lots of specialty pizzas, from meatball to jalapeno popper to a “market” pizza made with fresh selections from local markets, to classics such as margherita and prosciutto. In surveying the menu, it struck me how many novel ingredients were advertised on the specialty pies, items as diverse as broccoli rabe to calabrian honey to “little neck clams.”
Even though Bebu does have a vegan pizza, on which they’ll put any three or more fresh vegetables of your choice, I chose to go with “tallegio,” because hell, you only live once, am I right? The listed ingredients were panna (cream), pistachio (as in nuts), calabrian honey, and chives.
When my pizza arrived, the served advised us to give it a moment to settle, ostensibly for the honey to kind of “gel” with the rest of the ingredients. Even though I realized belatedly that I had yet again ordered a goddamn white pizza (as covered in a previous entry in this blog, one of the things I most look forward to in pizza is tomato sauce), this thing smelled incredible– an exotic mix of spicy and sweet.
The Maestro ordered his staple, pepperoni. When it emerged from the kitchen, he was mildly irritated to see that it included several leaves of what looked to be fresh green spinach on top of a goddamn entire pigs-worth of crisp pepperoni. His loathing of vegetables notwithstanding, I thought the pie looked pretty great, my loathing of meat notwithstanding.
There is definitely a crunch when you bite into a slice of Bebu pizza, and they definitely do their crust a little on the charred side. The Maestro loves this, hence his love of wood-fired pizza. I prefer my crust juuuust a tad less charred than he does in general, and specifically on this pizza, because otherwise the flavors of the tallegio were really interesting and bright and delicious. The only thing that even slightly detracted from the experience was the intrusion of the charred crust flavor, simply because once you taste that burnt flavor, it’s hard to really taste anything else.
That said: this pizza was delicious.
The crust gets a little chewy at the end of the slice, and I ended up doing something that I HATE when other people do: only eating the slice up to the end of the crust. I typically like eating all of the crust, but in this case, it just turned into a matter of, how much chewy, doughy, kinda singed crust are you going to chomp your way through just to say you finished the slice?
The floor to ceiling windows allowed in lots of early afternoon light, the wait staff was friendly and super accommodating when my clumsy ass knocked over the water, and the wait time was entirely reasonable. The menu was creative and wide ranging, and even though there weren’t many meat-free options, I assume that my fellow veg-heads could probably request meat-free versions of most of the specialty pies and be accomodated.
Parking’s a bit of a pain, but whatcha gonna do, it’s Lincoln Park.
The only other thing really worth noting about Pizzeria Bebu is I didn’t finish the meal feeling gross. I had about half the pizza at lunch, then the other half for dinner; and neither half left me feeling like a slug or overstuffed. For as much as I truly love Chicago-style deep dish pizza, this is NOT something I can say when I indulge that particular taste. Bebu’s thin-but-chewy-but-kinda-charred crust is just about right when it comes to satisfying, but not over-satisfying.
That’s about all there is to say about Pizzeria Bebu. Now that I’ve gotten the Maestro on board with intermittent fasting and we’re both getting less neurotic about periodically indulging in our gustatory vices, watch this space for ongoing deep dives into the world of pizza– both from Chicago, and from our myriad travel destinations.