Monday, August 25, 2003

Restaurant Review: Ace’s Chicago Pizza

Restaurant Review: Ace’s Chicago Pizza
Andria Brown

I live in Midtown Memphis. I eat in Midtown Memphis. Yet when I heard that a Chicago-style pizzeria had opened all the way out in the mysterious mallburbs, I knew that I had to try it out. But wait – how I actually heard about this pizza place is a story in itself. See, I was down at the federal courthouse. No, no, it wasn’t like that. I’d been called for jury selection, and since I couldn’t get anyone to agree that being five months pregnant could interfere with serving on a jury, I took my assigned place in the court room and waited patiently to be excused. I was nearly dozing off when the judge started asking a sweet, fiftyish woman about her job history. The woman said that she and her husband had recently opened a restaurant. The judge, for no discernible reason other than nosiness, asked what kind of restaurant. The woman seemed a little flustered and answered vaguely, “An…eatery?” Because we all clearly had nothing else to do that day (and because no one’s used the word “eatery” since 1910), the judge asked what he might order at her restaurant. As proof that it pays to fulfill your civic duty, this woman, this angel, said, “Chicago-style pizza, maybe?” I suddenly became much more interested in the legal process. As soon as I possibly could (shortly after I got kicked out of the jury pool), I got online and started looking up “Chicago style pizza” in the Yahoo yellow pages. And there it was: Ace’s Chicago Pizza.

My husband and I moved down here from Chicago nearly five years ago, and we’ve been craving the true deep dish experience ever since. Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for our gas consumption), Ace’s knows their stuff. They put together a deep dish pizza that is reminiscent of Gino’s East, one of the original (and many think best) pizzerias in Chicago. Their pizza sauce and sausage are made specifically for Ace’s, per their own recipe. These seemingly small details make all the difference, and they’ve put us on I-40 East more times than I should probably mention. The menu also features other Chicago favorites like Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hot dogs, and giardiniera, as well as traditional crust pizza and pasta. So far, we’ve only tried the deep dish (over and over again, just to be sure), but I’m confident that the full menu offers the same quality and authentic Chicago flavor.

I’m not what anyone would call a foodie, so I generally don’t write about restaurants, but I feel so personally committed to making sure that this restaurant succeeds that I want to spread the word as far as I possibly can. And did I mention that it’s family-owned? The original Ace’s is located in Paris, TN, and Ace’s sister and brother-in-law have brought the franchise here to Memphis. Well, to Cordova, technically. Did I also mention that it’s right next to an ice cream shop and a large movie theater that actually hires ushers? So even if you live in the city, you can grab the family and make a whole evening of it. Or make it a date and enjoy the romantic strip mall ambience. Or do what we do and take everyone you know as often as you possibly can – we’ve been there three times in three weeks, and thanks to effective propaganda, our last group included seven adults and two kids.

(Helpful tip: deep dish pizza takes about 30 minutes to make, so call while you’re on your way and save some waiting time. One stuffed pizza feeds two hungry adults. Or my husband.)

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