Saucy, crusty, towering,
Pizza of the Big Shoulders;
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for your inverted charms ceaselessly lure my fatigued tongue and distended gut.
I thought I’d herald the new-to-me local heavyweight champion of pizzas by fracturing Carl Sandburg’s celebrated poem named after that toddlin’ town famous for manhole cover-like tomato pies. Confession: I’d never been a fan of Chicago-style pizzas before, not even when eaten in Chicago and created by legendary perpetrators of the form.
Possibly it’s because I’m a thin crust lover; maybe it’s because the Chicago leviathans were too-often flabby and are built backwards, i.e. with the sauce on top and the cheese on bottom. Whatever my reservations, it was only last week that, after ripping through a crispy and sturdy deep dish pizza that tickled my fancy, I gave up hating the things for Lent.
I ate this convincer in an unlikely spot — Meister’s Bar in Grandview. Meister’s is a friendly, clean and engagingly odd-angled, off-the-eaten-path, dude-city type joint with two red pool tables, mini bowling machine, dart-board room, sports on HDTVs and a (frequently) metal-tinged soundtrack. Bota boxed wine and about 20 craft bottles are offered along with a small tap selection starring Founders Red’s Rye PA and Scrimshaw Pilsner.
Meister’s in-the-back pizza operation is called Pi. They also make subs and thinner crusted specimens, but its supersizers (which take about 45 minutes to bake) clearly stand out. Since Pi produces its own sausage and meatballs, I went with those toppings; I’ll describe the impressive, feeds-four $20 result from the bottom up.
It had an exterior crust that, beneath enormous weight, retained a terrific crispiness throughout a lengthy eating and drinking session; the stratum above that was puffy and bready, expanding radically in volume from the center out. Like a quiche, a moisture-sealing cheese layer was next — gooey and judiciously applied. Then came crumbles of garlicky, almost delicate meatballs and fresh-tasting, fennel-seeded sausage. Rich, sweet-tangy and herb-laden (oregano-led) homemade sauce — buckets of it — filled-in the veritable bread bowl. A toasty, stiff and handsomely dark golden-browned upper crust kinda recalled a jumbo pretzel on its edge.
Carl Sandburg would’ve smiled.