The Pizza Snob had no vision of ever writing about chains when he started this blog some six months ago. My intention was to focus solely on local Mom and Pop pizza makers. However, I did find it fun to write about supermarket pizza and even the mega-chain Sbarro. There are a few other prominent pizza purveyors I feel a need to eventually review to cover all the bases. Case in point–Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom recently opened in my hometown of Franklin, Tennessee amidst great hoopla.
Old Chicago is a franchise operation that currently has about 100 locations across the nation. Two days after The Snob and his Sweetie Pie were turned away from an opening gala–they obviously didn’t know what they were doing–I got a chance to visit them at lunchtime.
I was immediately impressed with how nice this restaurant was—a large, slick expanse with both indoor and outdoor seating, a huge bar, and large screen TVs. Scoping out the pizza buffet, I decided I would be passing on it since, even though a great bargain, it had mostly topping filled Chicago-style deep dish offerings. The menu, on the other hand, offered many interesting items and before my lunch buddy, Hollywood Paul, showed up, I decided upon the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad and hoped he would split a “Tavern-Thin” cheese pie with me. I soon learned he was dining gluten-free, so I ordered an 8-inch pie to eat by my lonesome.
The pie arrived nice and fresh although quite oily. As the picture shows, it was cut into small pieces in what The Snob refers to as the Crisscross Cut which despite being a major break from transition makes it easier to share as an appetizer. Paul did manage to sneak in a piece or two, and we both agreed that it was tasty. Our salads were delicious, and I was excited to have another good local restaurant choice. Still pondering how I felt about Old Chicago’s pie, I returned the following Saturday with Mrs. Pie to share a 14-inch pie.
Although I am generally not into cheese-blends, their mix of mootz, provolone and Asiago blended together well. Unfortunately, the pie was over-cheesed. The tomato sauce was sweet and tasty, seasoned with a sprinkling of fresh oregano. While the crispy crust was much thinner than the deep-dish pie, it was in no way as thin as one would find in a New York or New Jersey tavern. Our pie wasn’t fully cut through which is just plain sloppy.
This time eating more than I did my first visit, I soon tired of it being too darn greasy! In fact, we gave up before we finished it, and I left with an uneasy stomach. This is one pie that I may be able to enjoy only in small quantity! In addition to an excess of oil brushed on the bottom crust, the excess cheese was a likely contributor to its oiliness.
Given that The Pizza Snob is not a deep-dish guy, I could be missing something great at Old Chicago. I’m sure that it is a place I will visit again, but it won’t be one of my destinations for NY-style pie—their attempt at this style comes up short.
PIZZA SNOB RATING **1/2 Not a Total Waste
Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom
440 Cool Springs Blvd.
Franklin, TN 37067