Some restaurants mark the anniversary of their first day of business. Dave Lichterman celebrated two years since he fled Seattle’s tech industry with an update to his deep dish pizza menu at Windy City Pie.
Lichterman’s scrubby beard and black glasses still mark him as a guy with a degree in computer engineering, but now he applies his precision brain to the sort of dough-rising and cheese-browning chemical reactions that hurl thunderbolts at the brain’s pleasure center.
Granted, it’s hard to pin an anniversary to the circuitous route that brought his pies to the plywood-wrapped room at Interbay’s Batch 206 Distillery at the end of 2016. In Windy City’s early days, you’d order online and meet Lichterman for a parking lot handoff that always felt faintly illicit, especially given the high produced by the crisped cheese layer that rings the spongy crust. It’s a marvel of science and an homage to Chicago pizza mecca Burt’s Place.
Elliott Avenue traffic surges past the pizzeria’s permanent home; parking is inhospitable, foot traffic nonexistent. Given the cook times required to expel moisture from these behemoth pies, it’s still a good idea to order online, even if you plan to eat in. None of this stops the fans who come for takeaway, for the experimental Monday-night slices (inspired by anything from Italian beef to cottage pie), or to celebrate birthdays with cocktails and a Meatza, one of the many pies that prove candied bacon’s unexpected versatility in the spicy-savory-sweet trinity of good pizza.
Packed Saturday nights involve an unusually high ratio of Cubs hats. Seattle’s multitude of Chicago transplants view Windy City’s pies as a manna of sorts. For the rest of us, they’re a revelation that transcends deep dish’s stodgy, gut-bomb persona, and the notion that restaurants only take certain forms.