Pizza at Burt’s Place

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.

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On Autumn

red leaf

Here is what I like most about autumn, even more than the apple cider and the crunchy leaves and the chilly air that makes me reach for a sweater while I cradle a cup of tea: like the other seasons, fall doesn’t arrive in one grand, magical instant.

Although its place on the calendar is fixed, autumn’s effect on daily life comes more gradually, reaching us through small, almost imperceptible shifts day by day—the gusts of wind, the days of rain, the hazy fog over some afternoons, until, one day, someone says: Hey, look around you, see those red leaves? It’s fall! And then, as we notice, we remember the Used To Be and marvel, that what was once hot and humid has become cooler, darker, crisper, more colorful, as if the change had occurred overnight, just like that, when in reality, it had been coming for a while.

fall leaves

I like this about fall because it is like life, and by that, I mean it is like the way a person you sit next to at work, through daily conversations and shared lunches and common experiences, becomes, over time, much more than someone you sit next to at work, changing from an acquaintance not in one day or one moment, but in the slow, daily shifts of knowledge and understanding that make a friendship.

It is like the way years fly by, in a series of moments and days that keep coming, so that I sit here, now at 27, wondering how in the world I was a senior in high school ten years ago, how recent and how faraway that seems and how much has changed and how much hasn’t.

leaves against sky

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what you can have

mountains

So confession? I took even more pictures in Colorado than I let on Wednesday. In fact, there were something like 350. 350 photos, people. I didn’t post them all because, partly, that would take a lot of time for me and, also, because that would be a lot to ask of you. 350 pictures is a lot of pictures.

Anyway, I was going through some of those extras last night, scrolling through the hour-to-hour chronicles of our trip in a cable car up Pikes Peak, with Michele pointing her camera at the window and crisp, cold air sweeping in against our faces, and can I just say that looking at them created an ache—like a physical ache—deep in my gut, the kind you get when you’re really far from your family or when you haven’t seen your best friend for a long time. Oh, Colorado. I miss you.

So one more picture?

snow-capped mountains of colorado

Ah. Thank you for indulging me.

We both know there are a lot of things about Colorado I can’t take with me: the sunshine (hello, muggy, hazy, it’s-certainly-fall Chicago!), the altitude, the giant mountains and the beautiful little towns. None of the restaurants I loved are in commuting distance, and that means Bistro Vendome and I are sadly separated.

But I am happy to tell you there is at least one thing I managed to sneak away with, something I’ve been holding tightly since Sunday afternoon, bringing it on the plane with us Monday and into work Tuesday, even hiding the bit that’s left to make it last longer. I know you won’t be even a little surprised when I tell you what it is.

I’m talking about cookies.

minnie beasley's

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