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.
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!).
Beyond all the rules and the hype and the experience, though, let’s get to the most important thing: the pizza.