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First Look: Roots Handmade Pizza

By Roger Kamholz in Food on Jun 3, 2011 7:00PM

Quad Cities-style pizza upped its presence in Chicago on Tuesday with the grand opening of Roots Handmade Pizza, the latest venture from Fifty/50 owners Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner. Always eager to expand our culinary horizons, we rushed over to get a look at the new digs and then get down to the business of disappearing some 'za.

First, some facts. Quad Cities-style pie distinguishes itself from your typical Chicago, New York, Napoli or New Haven variety of 'za by its malty, hand-tossed dough, spicy tomato sauce and blanket of cheese that covers the other toppings. (Although that last rule doesn't seem to be hard-and-fast; see Roots' Taco pizza, topped with seasoned tortilla chips.) Named after the cluster of Illinois and Iowa border towns where it originated, Quad Cities pizza can also be ID'ed by the way it's cut - into long narrow strips by scissors.

The owners gutted a long-vacant corner building on West Chicago Avenue for Roots, installing a huge three-sided bar, a set of glass garage doors facing the sidewalk, lots of high-backed booths and hip Edison-bulb light fixtures. The menu includes five pizza options, as well as a number of sandwiches, sausages and fried apps (the mozzarella sticks are a house specialty). If you're not into one of Roots' nine salads, you can build your own from a laundry list of ingredients. Roots stocks only Midwestern beers (they've still got 70+) and even has its own Roots Root Beer.

Looks like the Great Pizza Debate just got another contender.

Roots Handmade Pizza is located at 1924 W. Chicago Avenue.