The kitchen at Windy City Pie has filled to-go pizza orders since mid-January, but this week owner Dave Lichterman quietly opened his bar and restaurant at 5918 Phinney Ave N for customers who want to dine in. All the usual early-days caveats apply: Lichterman and crew are still fine-tuning and finding the place's rhythm. But you can consume Windy City's superlative deep dish pizzas hot and on-site, washed down with a cocktail, or even a shot of Jeppson’s Malört, Chicago's favorite face-wrenching liqueur.
When Lichterman started making pizza, he stuck to orders via text, then occupied a counter at the Batch 206 tasting room to avoid all the prosaic operational challenges that come with running a restaurant. Those very challenges delayed the opening of the dining room, he says: Snow delayed service calls. People needed time to get comfortable in the kitchen. Along the way, he says, "Everything broke."
But now the place looks as if it's been dishing up thick pizzas rimmed with crisped cheese for years. Lichterman's a tech guy turned pizza scientist—thank chemistry for those browned-cheese edges—and apparently he's a decent hand at decorating. Deep blue walls contrast with a vivid coppery pressed ceiling, plants proliferate in one corner, and gilt-framed mirrors add to the glow. Squint (or do a shot of malört) and it could almost be a century-old neighborhood tavern.
That malört on tap is just one of the Chicago shout-outs at Windy City Pie. Lichterman, who grew up on the city's North Side, also procured Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout on draft and filled the walls with a variety of cool vintage Chicago paraphernalia. The bar area's already proving a popular destination for a drink and a slice, but the remainder of the dining room is all ages—a nice change from the no-minors restriction of the Batch 206 days. Especially in this neighborhood.
Even if you plan to consume your pizza in one of Windy City's booths or two-tops (or at the communal table so long it could moonlight for shuffleboard), it's not a bad idea to order your pizza online, since they do take a while to bake. And because I have a feeling crowds are on their way.