burt's place

Sunday night, I had pizza at Burt’s Place in Morton Grove, after calling in our order four days ahead of time, right down to the sizes and toppings and what time we’d arrive, because, if you don’t know this already, Burt’s is not just any place—it is a landmark, made famous largely by Saveur Magazine and Anthony Bourdain. It’s kind of understandable that such a place would have some rules—and Burt’s does. The biggest, most important rule is very simple, but it’s vital: you must call ahead.

I was there with my friend Jacqui (who was the first person to have told me about Burt’s, way back in a January comment); her fiance, Murdo; our blogging friend Whitney; and her boyfriend, Dave. We’d known about the rule (it’s recommended that you call days or sometimes weeks in advance), not just because Jacqui had been before but also through online reviews, which, by the time we met Sunday, it seemed most of us had read and, honestly, been a little intimidated by.

burt's place inside

The rules are designed for a purpose—the deep-dish Chicago-style pizzas take a while to cook, and it makes everything more efficient if they can have your food ready when you arrive. Burt’s Place is small—a little brown building with the look of a two-flat, set at the end of a quiet, residential street, unassumingly, enough so that you almost wouldn’t notice it. Inside, the decor is eclectic—dolls, vintage telephones, a few framed articles that have mentioned the restaurant.

When I walked in (I was the first to arrive from our group), there was only one couple eating, and Burt—the Burt, who’d talked to me on the phone just a few days before—was out there in the dining area, standing by their table and joking around about fried chicken or something. He headed back to the kitchen soon after, when the all-reserved tables started filling up, only popping out once or twice to bring some fresh pizzas or answer the phone while his wife, Sharon, was serving other customers (like us!).

burt's place pizza

Beyond all the rules and the hype and the experience, though, let’s get to the most important thing: the pizza. Despite what the very unfortunate above photo (dim lighting!) suggests, this pizza was excellent. Like, seriously excellent. It’s classic deep dish, made in high-rimmed, heavy, black pans that allow for a substantial crust to form and caramelize not just on the bottom but all around the sides. I don’t know how they do it, but the crust is sturdy enough to hold in one hand, without its bending at all, yet not greasy in that way where you need a couple paper towels just to wipe up all the extra juice on your fingertips. Personally, I also loved (LOVED) that this wasn’t a cheese pie—do you know what I mean? If you’re at all familiar with Chicago-style pizza, you know a lot of them are crust, several inches of cheese and then sauce and toppings. The cheese on Burt’s, on the other hand, was just right. I got cheese but as a complement to all the fresh tomatoes, spinach and garlic on my slice.

And at the end of our meal, Sharon took the time to divide our leftovers equally into five paper bags because we were “such nice kids,” even though she was very busy, and that made me decide, if I hadn’t already liked her and Burt for their passion for what they’re doing and for being a beloved mom-and-pop restaurant that is going to do things their way, I had to like them after that. Go visit, and see if you don’t agree (just, seriously, call first! and bring cash!).





Burt’s Place
8541 Ferris Ave
Morton Grove, IL 60053

Phone Number: (847) 965-7997
Menu: on UrbanSpoon (have your order ready when you call!)

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Jacqui

    that picture turned out great! love that huge tomato slice, and i can even SEE the chunks of garlic. thanks again for calling (and calling again) and for putting all this together. murdo and i were just talking about how that crust is perfect — sturdy, buttery, not too bready, and i like how the sauce and toppings go all the way to the edge of the pizza so i’m not left with some big hunk of crust that i never end up eating, anyway. we’ll be going back soon!

  2. Whitney

    Seriously the best Chicago style pizza I have ever had. And it was DELISH the next day for lunch. Thanks for inviting me and Dave!

    PS-Love the new Blog header. You and making me want to revamp mine…

  3. Shannalee

    Jess, I’d love it if you came to Chicago sometime, friend! And thank you for the compliment on the header!

    Kelley, Oh, me too! Then we could sit and talk in person!

    Jacqui, I laugh every time I think about my nervousness in calling, ha! So not a big deal. And I love how you called the crust buttery – yes! Oh gosh and the toppings all the way to the crust? This is a problem because now I want more.

    Whitney, I know! You know how I was all reluctant to take leftovers but it was SO GOOD the next day. Glad you guys could come – it was great seeing you! PS thanks so much about the header!

  4. Kim

    That looks great! Next time you’re out here, you’ll have to try our famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza place, Zachary’s. There’s no calling ahead, and even on a weeknight the wait can be 45 minutes long, but it’s SO worth it. And you place your order when you arrive, so by the time your table is ready, your pizza won’t be far behind :)

  5. giao {kiss my spatula}

    ever since i saw that episode of NR, i had that pizza place bookmarked in my mind. now i know i MUST make it a priority. thanks for the fabulous preview and review…i’m super excited!!! hopefully, we’ll get the star treatment for being “such nice kids” too! ;)

  6. Shannalee

    RedMenace, You’re kidding! Whitney and Dave are both fresh grads of law school who both passed the bar (!) and we were talking about lawyerly things a little. You would have fit right in.

    Kristen, Fantastic! I hope you love it!

    Kim, It’s so funny that you say that because, I swear, I have NEVER eaten Chicago-style pizza anywhere but in this area. When I’m on vacation, it just never enters my mind, ha! But Zachary’s sounds good – thanks for the tip!

    Giao, You must! I think you would love it, honestly. It’s so local and homey and small, and wow, just really good pizza, to boot.

  7. Niki

    I’ve been wanting to go there since I saw them on No Reservations, even though Burt’s long beard and hair kinda scared me… Not a big fan of hair in the food. But I am dying to try them now that someone I know (sort of) and whose taste in food I trust, likes them!

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  9. EAT!

    Seriously – I will be checking this place out on my next trip to Chicago. On the East Coast, you can’t find a good deep dish pizza and sometimes yu just want someone else to make it for you.

    Thanks for the review.

  10. Shannalee

    Leftoverist, I love that you said you would have done it, too. And yes! It is the smallest things that make such a difference!

    JessieV, You do!

    EAT! I’d love to hear what you think if you try it – here’s to a visit sometime soon!

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