Flying Pie Pizzeria
7804 SE Stark

I used to live in this crappy apartment complex in Northwest, and the live-in maintenance guy would have to come over all the time because the faucet was leaking or mold was growing on the wall, or the sliding door wouldn't latch--but anyway, we became friends. And while I don't remember much about him other than his dog liked to hump my dog, and his younger brother was hella hot, I do remember him talking about Flying Pie Pizza an awful lot. Enough that I can't pass that apartment building without thinking "I need to go to that pizza place Steve always used to talk about."

So I was down in the cute little towny district of 78th and Stark (which I am now in love with), trying to go to the Falafel King. It was closed, and to my surprise, I spied Flying Pie across the street. Why not?

The dining room reminds me of a Chicago Pizza parlor; lots of wood and red cushions on the booths, cafeteria-style tables outside, and those metal pizza stands that keep your pizza a foot off the table. They also have a wealth of board games to occupy the 40-minute wait for the pie. This is a drawback if you're not in it for a "pizza experience," but they do have a selection of nice beer to take the edge off.

While the parlor seems authentic Chicago-style, the Chicago-style pizza is not authentic, but still good. I ordered the Windy City variety, because I figured the deep dish pizza is difficult to get right would be the best thermometer of Flying Pie's skills. The crust ended up being a medium thickness, but quite tasty and crispy, with the slight butteriness of a handmade crust. The sauce is tangy and well portioned, so you won't get a big glop of marinara on your shirt. Hooray.

Topping ingredients are exceedingly fresh; ripe tomatoes, fresh chopped garlic, broccoli, zucchini, and freshly caught anchovies and smoked oysters (no, just kidding, they're canned). The ingredients make the unique tossed pizza (sadly, the dough tossing theatrics are missing) all the better, and they're piled on, so don't go too crazy on the ordering. Flying Pie also boasts a thin Upstate New York-style crust, an extra-thin New York City-style crust, and a deep-dish Focaccia crust, which I never like (I wish greasy focaccia bread had never been invented), but is no doubt well crafted, if that's your bag.

Another perk of Flying Pie is the vegetable-filled, make-your-own salad bar, which has buckets of baby corn, pasta salad, fresh mushrooms, garbanzo beans, great Italian dressing, and the rest. I thought it was awesome, because it's rare a pizza joint has vegetables that aren't wilty and gross, including spinach and a mix-salad blend. My dining partner, on the other hand, proclaimed, "I give a nay on the salad bar. I mean, Jesus, could they make those serving spoons any smaller?" So, if you're a big, fat pig, it might take a while to fill your plate up to heaping proportions you've become accustomed to.

While citysearch voted Flying Pie's pizza the best pizza in 2000 and 2001, I say Escape From New York's pizza is more my style. I don't mind canned olives or mushrooms, it's cheap as hell, and there aren't a bunch of kids there. Regardless, try Flying Pie for yourself; it's damn good.