A buddy of mine, Michael Berger, moved to Chicago for the summer and is living in Lincoln Square. We decided to grab a meal together last week, and I figured if I was going to schlep all that way north, I may as well try some of this highly spoken of pizza.
Great Lake is far too popular for its own good. I'd heard that it was a difficult wait to overcome, so I made sure to order to go. Even with ordering to go, I had to give them a 1.5 hour notice before I could pick up my pizza.
It's not really fair to call this place a restaurant. It's much more like a bakery in its layout. There's seating for maybe 14 people. The kitchen is super small with one large table, a small counter, and a pizza oven. There were three employees working the whole show. They could probably use another cook to speed things up, but I don't think they've got the room for it.
The Kitchen and Staff (in its entirety)
If you try to eat in the restaurant, you may have had to wait upwards of an hour for a seat and then another long while for a pizza. It's seems like a whole lot of trouble when you can just call in an order.
Something that seems a little off is the price. It's around $22 for a pizza which comes at about 14 inches and could probably serve 3 people. Normally I'd say a pizza that size should be closer to $15, but the quality makes it worthwhile.
Another valuable point is that it's BYOB and there's a cheap liquor store right nearby. It's too bad you can't really drink anywhere during the lengthy wait.
There aren't too many options when it comes to Great Lake. You can pick from 3 different basic pizzas and add some meat if you'd like. Berger and I went with the Cremini Mushroom, Spring Onion, Dante Aged Cheese, and Black Pepper Pizza. We were going to get the Farmer's Market Salad which is a mix of whatever's in season, but I had just gone to my farmer's market and decided to make us some Caprese Salads with the ingredients I picked up.
The Cremini Mushroom, Spring Onion, Dante Aged Cheese, and Black Pepper Pizza
The pizza was unbelievable. For starters let's talk about the crust. The crust puffed up nicely, leaving a soft inside and a crispy outside. In the center the crust got slightly soggier, but nothing unmanageable. It wasn't too buttery or sweet, but just right. On top of the crust was an overloading of toppings. The mushrooms and onions still maintained a nice texture, and the whole thing was seasoned very well. One thing I was originally worried about from the appearance was that the overall pizza was lacking cheese. After my first bite, these worries went right out the window. The blending of unique toppings paired perfectly to make a magnificent pizza.
One thing that's important to note is the freshness of all of the ingredients. Lots of them are picked up from very local sources, and it really comes out in the flavor.
It's not deep dish, but after eating at Great Lake, it's no wonder why everyone and their mom has said that it's the best pizza in the city. The crust and fresh, plentiful toppings are perfectly balanced to make an amazing pie. I was blown away with the taste, and if you order it to go you get to ignore some of the logistical obstacles. I'm giving out the second Pearl Necklace of the blog to date. 5 out of 5 Pearls.