Wow. You're bringing back lots of memories for me now. When I first got married (long ago), we lived deep into the city on the near-in southwest side of Chicago, just a mile or so from the Cook County Courthouse and infamous jail. It was then an old Italian and German neighborhood, with kids running around speaking in their native language, and the streets in the neighborhood were all some 8 to 10 feet higher than the ground level (I know that's hard to picture). Besides a bar on every corner, there was almost a large church on every other street.
While there, I heard about this tavern on 31st Street that supposedly made some great, great pizza. It was called Home Run Inn and it's name was somehow related to the Chicago White Sox baseball team and their park, Cominsky Park, which was just a couple of blocks off 31st Street also, but many miles east of the tavern. It was a small, one storefront tavern across the street from a large public park (Piotrowski Park). It had a long, straight bar on the right as you walked in with about a dozen high bar seats, about 8 four person tables, and in the back of the room was the pizzamaking area which went fully across the rear of the place. There was a very high counter separating the bar/restaurant area from the pizzamaking area (floured benches, deck ovens, sheeters, refrigerators, cash register, etc.), but if you stood up close to the counter you could watch the whole pizzamaking exercise taking place just a few feet from you. The bar opened very early in the morning for beer and shots of whiskey but didn't start baking pizzas until around lunch time and till late at night. But someone always seemed to be busy back there doing some pizzamaking preparatory work.
I remember biting into my first pizza there. It came straight from the oven to your table and was so hot it burned the upper roof of my mouth. After recovering from that experience I dived into the rest of that fantastic pizza and began being a happy, long time customer of one of the greatest pizza places on earth. They served their pizzas on flat aluminum pizza trays or pans and cut the pizzas into squares (doesn't everybody?). Always placed under the pizzas, served at the restaurant at least, were doilies (round decorative paper mats) that were used, I guess, to soak up some of the juices or grease from the cut pizzas. In my enjoying that first pizza immensely, I remember thinking to myself that this absolutely delicious pizza was so different from the many, many great thin crust pizzas that I had then enjoyed all over Chicagoland.
Back then, the supposed Chicago Style deep dish pizza was relatively unknown and most all Chicago neighborhood pizzerias served very thin crust pizzas, many of them cracker crust styles. I loved the Ike Sewell and others' (e.g., original Gino's) deep dish pizzas, but to me "Chicago Style" back then meant a non-bready, very thin crust pizza cut into squares, very different from eastern U.S. style pizzas. And Home Run Inn was just another great type of Chicago style pizza, but somewhat different from the rest. It was not real thin but somewhat thicker, and its style later became known as a thick-thin style (I don't think their newer frozen versions follow that tradition). It's crust was the key, very flavorful and tasty, but I have a lot of difficulty describing that flavor and taste. This was one pizza that was difficult to taste the flour in the pizza crust and it was not a chewy kind like many of the eastern style bread dough type pizzas. But their's was not a cracker crust. Definitely not. It was crispy on the outside, but tender on the inside. While somewhat firm, a piece with a fair amount of ingredients (which was commonplace as I remember) would droop a little, especially the center cut squares. And in the many times that I watched them make pizzas, I never saw them toss or twirl the pizza skins, never saw a docker used (or the effects of one on the dough), and they always used peels to get the baked pizzas out of the deck ovens.
While I only lived in that neighborhood for about 2 or 3 years before moving to south suburbia, I thereafter would often "drive into the city" to get some of that special pizza and witness the phenomenal success and tremendous growth of their business. Over time, they bought out neighboring homes and bars, expanded their restaurant at incredible lengths to include much more space (including a massive 2nd floor restaurant area), along with parking lots and carry-out areas, since it was always difficult to find parking around the tavern. Today they have several other locations, and a large factory for their frozen pizza business. I didn't pay much attention to pizzamaking back then, but now that I'm into making pizza and the Home Run Inn style is now brought up, I will have to wrack my brain to recall many of the things that might be a little helpful to the effort here. Will report later after I give it some thought. I haven't had one of their pizzas in many years and unfortunately when I visited the Chicago area last summer we didn't have the time to stop by our old stomping grounds and have a great Home Run Inn pizza again. Maybe next summer.