A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 17, 2008
Deep-Dish Pizza (Chicago-Style Pizza)

Entry in progress—B.P.


Wikipedia: Chicago-style pizza
Chicago-style pizza is a deep-dish pizza style developed in Chicago. The term also sometimes refers to “stuffed” pizza, another Chicago style. True Chicago-style pizza features a buttery crust, loads of cheese and chunky tomato sauce. (The Windy City also has many pizzerias serving thin-crust pizzas, some of which are in a style unique to the Windy City, but as a term Chicago-style pizza generally refers to deep-dish styles.)

Deep-dish pizza
The Chicago-style “deep-dish” pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno, in Chicago, in 1943, reportedly by Uno’s founder Ike Sewell, a former University of Texas football star. However, a 1956 article from the Chicago Daily News asserts that Uno’s original pizza chef Rudy Malnati developed the recipe.

The pizza begins with a simple, thick layer of dough (made with olive oil and cornmeal) that is laid into a deep round pan and pulled up the sides, then parbaked before the toppings are added to give it greater spring. The crust is covered with cheese (generally sliced mozarella) and covered with meats and/or vegetables such as Italian sausage (a Chicago staple), onions, and bell peppers. A sauce of crushed or pureed tomatoes is then added. Typically this is finished with a grated cheese blend. On the usual pizza, about a pound of cheese is used.[citation needed] Deep-dish pizza is usually eaten with a knife and fork, since its thick gooeyness makes a slice of pizza larger than eight or ten inches messy to eat with the fingers.

Besides Uno, famous deep-dish restaurants include Uno’s companion restaurant Due, which was opened just down the block by Sewell in 1955. However, a year before, in 1954, The Original Gino’s Pizza, located on Rush Street, opened its doors, and 12 years later in 1966, Gino’s East opened. Other deep dish restaurants include Edwardo’s, Connie’s, Giordano’s, Carmen’s, Pizano’s (which is owned by Rudy Malnati’s son, Rudy Jr.), and Lou Malnati’s (which was begun by another of Rudy Malnati’s sons and is now run by his grandsons and has 26 Chicago area locations).

Wikipedia: Uno Chicago Grill
Uno Chicago Grill, formerly known as Pizzeria Uno or more informally as Uno’s, is a loosely-franchised pizzeria restaurant chain credited with creating Chicago-style pizza. The first Uno’s was established in 1943 by former University of Texas football star Ike Sewell and his friend, former WW II G.I. Rick Ricardo, in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. While Sewell and Ricardo are known as the owners of the original restaurant, a 1956 article from the Chicago Daily News asserts that the original recipe was created by chef Rudy Malnati. Sewell opened a second location (called Pizzeria Due) in the same area twelve years later to handle overflow from the original restaurant. Today the corporation is based in Boston, Massachusetts. Ironically, the restaurant chain does not have a major presence in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, with only four locations in the region excluding the original Uno and Due restaurants in River North.

UNO Chicago Grill
The History of Uno Pizza:
In 1943, when Ike Sewell opened a restaurant at the corner of Ohio Street and Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Americans ate pizza primarily as a snack. Ike figured that if you combined some of Italy’s old, authentic recipes with impressive quantities of the finest meats, fresh cheeses, ripe vegetables and flavorful spices, pizza would become a hearty meal. It was the start of an American tradition - the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. Ike’s Original Deep Dish Pizza has been imitated many times, but never quite duplicated.

Mangia Pizza (Austin, TX)
A great Chicago-style pizza made in Texas? Pizza folklore has it that 1920s University of Texas football star Ike Sewell was the inventor of the Chicago-style pizza in 1943. Mangia has brought Ike’s idea back to his gridiron home of Austin, making great pizzas that all will enjoy.

Why would Ike like Mangia? The dough, the sauce, the cheese, the toppings? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Our dough is handmade from scratch using a perfect blend of flour, sugar, yeast and water ? sparkling fresh water that comes from the Edwards Aquifer, a prolific artesian aquifer that also feeds Barton Springs, one of the great natural swimming locations in the world. The out-of-the-oven end result is a dough that is buttery, light and flaky.

Fresh ground sweet Italian tomatoes seasoned with basil, salt and pepper are the key to our sauce. Oregano, which can cause bitterness, is not used. The fresh simplicity of Mangia’s sauce allows the tasty quality of ALL ingredients to burst forth.

Mangia uses only part skim, low moisture Mozzarella cheese that is 30% less in fats, but with the full and robust cheese flavor a great Chicago-style pizza needs. Our staff nutritionist and chef have collaborated and perfected a cheese that is delicious yet healthy.

21 August 1990, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Ike Sewell, 87, creator of deep-dish pizza” by Lou Ortiz:
Ike Sewell, whose Pizzeria Uno restaurant became internationally known for Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, died Monday of leukemia at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was 87.

Mr. Sewell was a businessman and restaurateur, who, with the late Ric Riccardo, created deep-dish pizza in 1943 at Pizzeria Uno, 29 E. Ohio, and later opened Pizzeria Due, 619 N. Wabash.

Both restaurants still operate at their original locations.

Riccardo and Mr. Sewell’s deep-dish pizza, unlike the common thin-crust version, is layered with cheese, has a special thick crust and is baked in a skillet.

3 September 1990, Nation’s Restaurant News, “Pizzeria Uno founder Sewell dies” by Milford Prewitt:
CHICAGO—Ike Sewell, founder of Pizzeria Uno, inventor of the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and a Standard Brands executive for more than 30 years, died of leukemia at the age of 87.

A physically vigorous man up until the time of his illness, Sewell led a rewarding and challenging life, 50 years of it spent as a restaurateur, a food product innovator and an industry executive.

Not only is he widely regarded as the inventor of the deep-dish pizza—Pizzeria Uno’s signature item and a staple for many other pizza chains, including Domino’s—Sewell is reputedly the first restaurateur to open and introduce the first upscale Tex-Mex restaurant in Chicago.

“He really started a food trend with deep-dish pizza back in 1943,” said Craig Miller, president and chief operating officer of Uno Restaurants Corp. “Ike was a tremendous individual and entrepreneur who enjoyed life and the restaurant business.

“Everybody liked Ike. He was a friend to some of the most powerful and wealthy people in Chicago.”

Sewell was born 50 miles east of Dallas in the small town of Willis Point, Texas, a community he remained fiercely loyal to late in life.

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he achieved national acclaim as an All-American football star in 1924, Sewell was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation during the group’s annual Hall of Fame dinner in 1988.

15 March 2005, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, section 3, pg. 6, cols. 2-3:
Pizza lovers may wonder how Chicago pizza originated. Legend goes that Ike Sewell invented it at Pizzeria Uno in 1943.

Jean Malnati Miller says it’s a little more complicated than that.

“Ike Sewell was a silent partner. He wouldn’t know a fork if he walked in the kitchen,” she says.

So while Ike handled Uno’s business side, her father-in-law Rudy Malnati was busy developing the recipe for Chicago-style pizza, she says. he may have taken inspiration from the food of his hometown, Varese, Italy, near Milan. Rudy’s son Lou, who was married to Jean, joined him in his pizza quest after he returned from serving in World War II.

Time Out Chicago (Nov. 8-14, 2007)
Deep thoughts
Let’s start with what we know: Deep-dish pizza was invented at Chicago’s Pizzeria Uno on Ohio Street in the early 1940s.

After that, things get a bit hazy. Because deep-dish pizza is “the first true American pizza,” as the history magazine American Heritage has described it, there is, not surprisingly, a dispute over whose big brains were behind the idea. The key players are the owners Ike Sewell, a gregarious former football star, and Ric Riccardo, a Chicago restaurateur. Sewell, a Chicago transplant from Texas, wanted to open a Mexican restaurant; Riccardo agreed—until he had his first taste of Mexican food. After a trip to Italy, Riccardo convinced Sewell to open a pizzeria instead, though initially Sewell feared pizza wasn’t substantial enough for Chicagoans.

This is when the story enters the dark mists of Chicago legend. Before Pizzeria Uno opened, either Sewell or Riccardo—or possibly Rudy Malnati, the pizzeria’s manager, who’s named as the inventor in an account in the Chicago Daily News—came up with the deep-dish concept. But no one knows who. Riccardo died a decade after Uno’s opened and Sewell later took all the credit; Riccardo’s ex-wife has called Sewell a crook who stole the idea, according to an account of the dispute in the book Everybody Loves Pizza (Emmis Books, $19.95). We feel safe concluding two things: Deep dish was invented in Chicago by someone. And, man, we really should’ve ordered a smaller size.
—Nicholas Day

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Thursday, April 17, 2008 • Permalink


All the blabla about Pizzeria Uno being funded by Sewell may be true, but the reality is strictly that Rick Riccardo made the “Uno” famous because he was one of a group of WPA artists. He hung each artist’s works, giving that person a showplace for a period. The artist could come and join in by answering questions of the patrons to sell his works.

My mother was a divorcee and she, Mona Turner, married William S. Schwartz, the best friend of Riccardo. Schwartz is today well-known all over the world for his works.

I am now 91 years old and am married to a French woman and retired. I have lived in Paris for the last 41 years and what I said above is all true.

Posted by Bernard Dresner  on  03/03  at  10:27 AM

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