It’s not a casserole.
I can hear you snickering through the screen. Chicago style pizza is NOT a casserole. It’s not a lasagna, it’s not a joke. IT’S OURS OKAY STOP MAKING FUN OF IT. Jon Stewart famously said “it’s not only not better than New York Pizza… it’s not pizza.”
Listen, if I’m gonna grab a quick bite to eat and keep walking on the way to a hipster meetup, New York style pizza is great. It’s thin, it’s tasty and easy to eat. Chicago pizza is difficult. It takes a while to cook, you kinda need a fork to eat it, it’s so filling that one of them can feed a whole family… but these are not necessarily bad things. Chicago is a much more laid back city, one where sit down meals with your family are common and a 45 minute wait to get your food is a good time to talk and be with loved ones (as well as devour delicious sides).
You can rattle off 5 great pizza places in every city and all of them will be either authentic Italian or New York style pizza. Very rarely will you find a real Chicago pizza outside of Illinois. However, a new day has risen, my friends. In the outdoor mall at Bally’s just off of Flamingo and Las Vegas BLVD, one of the mainstays of Chicago pizza has opened up a newcomer for the crown.
Let’s try again.
I won’t lie, I was underwhelmed at the outdoor seating offered here. I was blown away that they’re open 7 days a week from the morning to 2 AM, mostly because I expected a place serving midwest style food to happily close at a reasonable 9-10 PM. But the seating itself makes no sense in a volatile weather place such as Las Vegas. The roof over the seating area isn’t solid, so when there’s wind or rain it blows right through. There’s also dust everywhere, to the point I had to clean off my place when I sat down. And on a cold night like the one I visited, the considerable 40 minute wait felt twice as long. I remarked to our server what a bad decision they made to make the only seating outside and he told me everyone was saying the same thing. (MAKE NOTE OF THIS)
We quickly ordered a side of parmesan garlic fries and a small stuffed pizza with sausage and onions (sausage is a must with Chicago style pizza). The fries were quick to come out, and we were happy to munch down on them to stay warm.
Solid fries, though I’m sad they came with a side of ranch dressing. The garlic was pretty well caramelized, to the point of getting stuck in your teeth when you tried to chew it. If they fix the garlic, they’ll be pretty damn good fries.
After way too much talk about how cold it was and how we wish they had an indoor seating area, our pizza arrived.
I don’t know how anyone can look at such an item and not be immediately filled with carnal thoughts. It tasted as good as it looks, obviously. There are places that sell Chicago style pizza frozen that can get most of it almost perfect, but the one thing that they can’t get right is the crust. The crust in this pizza was fantastic; crumbly, tender but still tough and thick enough to hold together this huge slice of cheese, sauce and stuffed toppings. Eaten with a knife and fork for true flair. Two adult men were stuffed after 2 pieces each with 2 pieces left to take home afterwards.
The whole meal was less than $20 a person with tip, making it one of the best values on the strip. With such prime real estate, you would expect this place to be significantly more expensive. If only they had reasonable seating, I would come here a few times a month! Alas, I left satisfied but ultimately sad that I would probably not come here too often to dine because of exposure to the elements.
Imagine my surprise a few days later when picking up a few carry out pizzas for a get together.
There’s an upstairs! I’m a fucking moron! There’s a huge bar and an absolutely beautiful interior! The servers let me go on and on about what a terrible decision not having an indoors was! It took me about 10 minutes for me to be able to get my foot out of my mouth when I realized this.
After this discovery, I see no reason not to rate this one of the absolute best restaurants for the money on the strip. Open until 2 AM, I think this is a must visit for anyone who likes Chicago pizza and a good spot for simply anyone who likes food. I’ll be back a lot.
Inside Bally’s outdoor mall area.
11AM – 2AM daily