Field Notes

Your First West Seattle Bridge Crossing Should Involve This Pizza

An underappreciated tavern pie steals the show at West Seattle’s new deep-dish emporium.

By Allecia Vermillion September 23, 2022

West of Chicago tops its tavern-style pie with components borrowed from an Italian beef sandwich.

Image: Amber Fouts

This summer, Shawn Millard moved his takeout-only deep-dish pizza kitchen, West of Chicago, into a low-key space in West Seattle. Fans were ecstatic about increased access to his Chicago-style pies. Prestige TV show The Bear only amped up affection for his Italian beef sandwich, which graduated from ticketed popup to daily certainty when the restaurant opened. The best item on the menu is neither of these things.

The tavern pie is a less-sung hero of Chicago’s pizza lore. Imagine the crust as one enormous cracker, just chewy enough to put the toppings on the main stage. Tradition dictates it’s cut into diamond-shaped pieces that make it so damn easy to help yourself to just one more.

The actual Italian beef is pretty damn good, too.

Image: Amber Fouts

Millard’s deep-dish is satisfying and bright, the Italian beef a tight homage to sandwich greatness. But the tavern pie tastes of dive bars with names carved in wood booths. Of cold beer at the end of a long shift and root beer in red pebbled plastic cups. If you order the version topped with Italian beef sandwich components (which you absolutely should), you get two Chicago food icons in every bite. Millard started messing around with the pie as an homage to Vito and Nick’s Pizzeria in the Windy City and discovered, “It is devilishly good.” 

West of Chicago customers have taken to ordering a tavern-style pie as a prelude to the longer-baking deep-dish…then stuffing themselves to the point that the second pizza becomes 80 percent takeout. 

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