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Author Topic: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza  (Read 408 times)

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Offline RHawthorne

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Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« on: September 14, 2020, 11:43:33 AM »
Okay, so I occasionally revisit the cracker crust pizza topic, and I really need to make it one of these ideas, but I'm not certain I've had it, or know exactly what cracker crust lovers consider it to be. I have an idea in my head of what I think it should be like, but I'm not sure that I've ever actually had it. My vision is of a crust that is crispy and reasonably thin, and tastes somewhat like a cracker, but doesn't actually shatter like a cracker when it's cut. The only place I've been that has pizza that's somewhat like this, but not exactly, is Vito & Nick's in south Chicago. They make a pizza that I've heard called bar pizza, but it's usually called Chicago thin crust pizza, or sometimes 'tavern pizza'. But then there's also bar pizza from the upper eastern seaboard area that looks a bit like Chicago thin crust pizza, but is cooked in a pan with a good amount of butter. These two styles have some cosmetic similarities, but in reality seem quite different. Those are the two most prominent examples of what one might (in one pizza universe or another) call 'bar pizza'- with the variety coming from the American northeast having more cache in recent years.
What I'm leading to here is: 1) is the pizza that cracker crust pizza lovers talk about something like either of these two styles, or still something different?, and 2) why is there still, after all these years, no forum board here for bar pizza?? Seems to me that this has been the hottest trend going in the pizza world for the last several years, and there should be enough knowledgeable people here to fire it up.
Thanks in advance for the responses.
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Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2020, 11:51:32 AM »
There are thin crispy pizzas and there are cracker type pizzas. What you appear to be looking for is a thin crispy type aka Chicago style thin crust pizza. You really don't need to go very far back into the archives here to find discussion and some very good pictures of this type of pizza.
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Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2020, 12:02:08 PM »
There are thin crispy pizzas and there are cracker type pizzas. What you appear to be looking for is a thin crispy type aka Chicago style thin crust pizza. You really don't need to go very far back into the archives here to find discussion and some very good pictures of this type of pizza.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
I'm not really looking for Chicago thin crust pizzas so much as I'm trying to understand whether people consider that to be a variety of cracker crust pizza, of if the consensus is that they're completely separate styles. And one way or another, I still believe that the whole bar pizza topic is of enough interest and substance to have it's own separate board.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2020, 02:59:32 PM »
RHawthorne,

I can well understand your confusion. I grappled with the language recently when I tried to describe the different forms of thin crust pizzas for purposes of this month's Monthly Challenge at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=65121.msg638277#msg638277

Had I lived in places where the thin crust pizzas were sold, and I was aware of that style, I might have sampled the pizzas and done a better job in describing that style of pizza. My description reflects what I learned here on the forum and from my own attempts to make various thin crust pizzas, and also from doing a fair amount of Google searches.

To cite an example of such a search, I recently did a Google search to see if Margherita pizzas were made in a thin crust style. The reason I picked on the Margherita style of pizza was because my local supermarket sells a frozen "Margherita" pizza that is described as having an "Ultra Thin Crust". When I did a further search to see if there were other companies making frozen "Margherita" thin crust pizzas, I found there were many, far more than I would have imagined. And while they all used tomatoes (with varying degrees of authenticity), cheese (including grated cheese), basil (dry or slivers), and olive oil, they otherwise varied quite significantly but mostly in the crusts. Those crusts included standard flour crusts, gluten-free crusts, cauliflower crusts and vegan crusts. Some of the pizzas were said to be organic. Invariably, the photos of the pizzas showed them either whole or cut into slices, not family style. However, in the real pizza world, there are quite a few pizzerias that make thin crust Margherita pizzas and, again, the pizzas for the most part are cut into slices. However, I did find a thin crust Margherita pizza recipe that showed the finished pizza cut family style. For those who are interested, the recipe is at:

https://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/thin-crust-margherita-pizza/

To the above, I would add that when I play around with the supermarket thin crust pizzas, I cut them family style.

I suspect that there are perhaps many pizzerias in the country where thin crust Margherita pizzas are freshly made and cut family style. I found one such example at Uno's, in the Chicago area, at https://www.unos.com/menus/thin-crust-pizza.php. I would guess that it is the parts of the country where it is common to cut all or most of the pizzas family style. But I did not find that approach translated to frozen thin crust pizzas, at least not where I live in Texas. It would be interesting to know if any of our members who live in parts of the country where family cut pizzas are the norm see frozen thin crust pizzas sold in supermarkets and shown cut in family style. Some might be shown uncut.

As for your question about whether there should be a separate classification for bar pizza, that is a tough one. When I researched this matter, I found that some of our members view bar pizzas differently than tavern pizzas and even how both types are cut, that is, in slices or family style. And I suspect that the terms bar and tavern can have different meanings across the country. If this is all so, it would be difficult to separate one type of thin crust from another for classification purposes.

Peter

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2020, 05:03:55 PM »

As for your question about whether there should be a separate classification for bar pizza, that is a tough one. When I researched this matter, I found that some of our members view bar pizzas differently than tavern pizzas and even how both types are cut, that is, in slices or family style. And I suspect that the terms bar and tavern can have different meanings across the country. If this is all so, it would be difficult to separate one type of thin crust from another for classification purposes.

Peter
Thanks for another useful response. I guess this a topic I need to delve into further before I even know the best questions to ask about what, if anything, separates bar pizza from cracker crust pizza, in a meaningful way. But in my research so far, the biggest things that stick in my mind and make me think they definitely need to have separate categories on the forum are:
1) Whenever anybody talks about cracker crust pizza, they pretty much never mention any bar from which that pizza originated. It always seems to come from an actual dedicated pizzeria, not a bar. That alone tells me that there's a significant point of departure where the source of the pizzas are concerned, and I think that matters.
2) From what I gather, the recipes for the two styles have a lot in common, but bar pizza dough recipes seem to hover around the mid-50% hydration range, where cracker crust pizza dough recipes seem to hover more around the mid-40% hydration range, hence the rather extreme dryness and cracker-like character of the finished crust, and the appropriate name. While other ingredients in the mix might be almost identical, that major difference in the hydration make for a very different finished crust, I would think.
3) While bar pizza is definitely always baked in a pan, I'm not at all sure whether that's the case for cracker crust pizza. From the photos I've seen of pizzas in that style made by people on this site, I wouldn't necessarily say that they were. Nor am I familiar enough with any pizzerias that make cracker crust pizza to see for myself whether they are made in a pan or not. It's a style that I could see being baked in a pan, but I could also see it not being made that way. That's probably the biggest question lingering in my mind that makes me continue to think they are probably pretty different pizzas.
4) From the videos I've seen of bar pizzas made in their original locations, it's clear that the doughs used are always flattened out by hand, in the pan; whereas from what I gather, cracker crust pizzas are more often than not (if not always) rolled out by machine to achieve maximum thinness. This is another point that I think is quite important. When I ate at Vito & Nick's in south Chicago, I could see that they were definitely using a sheeter to roll out their skins, but I don't know if their crust is quite as thin or cracker-like as what cracker crust pizza experts would consider appropriate for that style. So again, I return to the question of whether or not Chicago thin crust pizza is considered bar pizza or cracker crust pizza, or something in-between.
Ultimately, I'm beginning to think that cracker crust pizza is really something pretty different than bar pizza, and probably not even quite as popular- hence my belief that bar pizza really deserves to have it's own category on the forum.  Hopefully I've started a discussion that help bring about that change, but one way or another, I will be content to keep reading posts from thin crust pizza geeks of any persuasion who will continue to enrich our collective understanding of these pies- however one chooses to categorize them.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 05:06:20 PM by RHawthorne »
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2020, 07:51:07 PM »
RHawthorne,

What you are proposing that we do is a lot harder than you might think.

To begin, you will have to convince Steve to add a new category of pizza to the present indexing system. In the past, that has not been easy. You will have to clearly and convincingly explain to Steve the reason for the new category and also the criteria that will have to be followed to place a given thread into a particular bucket. That is important because someone (in the past that has always been a Moderator, along with Steve) is going to have to look at the 377 threads currently in the Cracker category and decide into which bucket the threads are to be placed. To do this, it will most likely also require that that "someone" look at the posts in each of the threads. At the moment, there are 5908 posts. And if the threads do not have recipes to examine, preferably in baker's percent format, it may be difficult to tell where to place the thread. The above tasks are not easy to do, and they will take a lot of time and work.

To the above, I would add that there are also other pizzas that are considered to be thin crust pizzas, such as the St. Louis style of pizza. That would mean having to go through another 400 or so posts to determine where to place the related threads. At the moment, the St. Louis type of pizza seems to be classified under Other Types and maybe under General Pizza Making.

You are not the first member to suggest a new classification. I have addressed such proposals before, as you can see from these posts:

Reply 5 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=49513.msg497820#msg497820,

Reply 10 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=5994.msg53363;topicseen#msg53363.

I am not against adding new boards, or even discarding some existing boards, but to add a new board has to be done properly and thoroughly and then decide who is going to do all the work. And it shouldn't automatically mean the Moderators even though I have done it several times in the past. At the moment, the forum has only two Moderators, and we already have plenty to do, especially at these times because of the additional work imposed upon us by all the new members that have joined the forum and all of their posts due to Covid-19.

Peter

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2020, 08:43:37 PM »
RHawthorne,

What you are proposing that we do is a lot harder than you might think.

To begin, you will have to convince Steve to add a new category of pizza to the present indexing system. In the past, that has not been easy. You will have to clearly and convincingly explain to Steve the reason for the new category and also the criteria that will have to be followed to place a given thread into a particular bucket. That is important because someone (in the past that has always been a Moderator, along with Steve) is going to have to look at the 377 threads currently in the Cracker category and decide into which bucket the threads are to be placed. To do this, it will most likely also require that that "someone" look at the posts in each of the threads. At the moment, there are 5908 posts. And if the threads do not have recipes to examine, preferably in baker's percent format, it may be difficult to tell where to place the thread. The above tasks are not easy to do, and they will take a lot of time and work.

To the above, I would add that there are also other pizzas that are considered to be thin crust pizzas, such as the St. Louis style of pizza. That would mean having to go through another 400 or so posts to determine where to place the related threads. At the moment, the St. Louis type of pizza seems to be classified under Other Types and maybe under General Pizza Making.

You are not the first member to suggest a new classification. I have addressed such proposals before, as you can see from these posts:

Reply 5 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=49513.msg497820#msg497820,

Reply 10 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=5994.msg53363;topicseen#msg53363.

I am not against adding new boards, or even discarding some existing boards, but to add a new board has to be done properly and thoroughly and then decide who is going to do all the work. And it shouldn't automatically mean the Moderators even though I have done it several times in the past. At the moment, the forum has only two Moderators, and we already have plenty to do, especially at these times because of the additional work imposed upon us by all the new members that have joined the forum and all of their posts due to Covid-19.

Peter
No, I definitely didn't know exactly how much work would be involved in starting a new category. The process you're describing definitely sounds extremely time-consuming, do doubt. But is there any reason why the site can't just start a new category fresh, without worrying about going through all the old threads and posts, and just make an announcement that a new category is being started? Or start a poll, and ask how many forum members would be okay with starting a new category for bar pizza, with the understanding that it would be a totally new category, without incorporating all the old relevant posts? I mean, yeah, it would be great to incorporate all the old posts that would be relevant to the category, but as you said, that's quite a difficult task, and wouldn't people on the site be okay with just starting a whole new category anyway? Especially as it's like a total cluster%$#@ to go through the 'cracker crust' or 'other types' categories to find bar pizza specifically, with all those old posts and threads going back who knows how long, wouldn't it be best to just start over, and let people start contributing new posts? I honestly think most people would rather do that than continue trying to dig through the site looking for posts on bar pizza. Case in point: here is a link to an advanced search specifically on bar pizza on the 'other types' board: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=search2 . Not very helpful, is it? Only  one page with 8 posts, and only 4 of them appear to be relevant. I'm not trying to be critical of the site, believe me. I know it's got to be a lot of work. That's why I'm suggesting the easy route and just start over.
As far as laying down the criteria for posts in that category, I don't think there should be anything difficult about it at all: a pizza made in the style of those known as 'bar pizza' that originates in the American northeast region, made in a pan, sized for one, with a thin crispy crust. I may be new  to this style, but I don't think the criteria needs to be much more specific than that. Just give it a thought. Thanks.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2020, 12:50:35 PM »
RHawthorne,

To be honest, I don't really know what a "bar" pizza is or, for that matter, what a "tavern" pizza is. To me, it could mean any pizza sold in a bar or tavern although it is likely that there are related aspects, like a bar or tavern scene and alcoholic beverages. And the pizzas might be on the small side. The closest I could come in terms of definitions is what I posted in this month's Monthly Challenge at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=65121.msg638277#msg638277.

I suppose that Steve could skirt the entire issue by simply changing the board name from Cracker Style to Thin Crust Style and say that that style can include cracker style pizzas and bar/tavern style pizzas with less crispy crusts. Other distinguishing terms might also be used, such as how the pizzas are often cut and the firmness of the cut pieces. This approach would not overload the board since the Cracker Style board as presently constituted is small compared with most of the other popular boards and adding some bar and tavern threads would not make the board unwieldy.

To satisfy myself, this morning I did an Advanced forum search using only the terms bar pizza to see if I could get a better handle definitionally. I got 1905 hits. Of course, with such broad terms many of those posts are unlikely to have anything to do with bar pizzas but I did see posts on bar pizzas scattered throughout the forum, including General Pizza Making, Chicago Style, Cracker Style and Other Types. If I were creating a new board on a bar and/or tavern type of pizza, I would look at all 1905 posts and put the relevant threads into the right buckets.

I also did an advanced forum search using only the terms tavern pizza. This time, I only got 569 posts, and they were similarly scattered throughout the forum. These would be handled the same way as for bar pizzas.

Finally, I did two searches where the terms bar pizza and tavern pizza were used in titles of threads. For bar pizza, I got 24 hits, and for tavern pizza, I got 10 hits. Both sets of posts would be easy to review.

I think that the bottom line remains that we have to find suitable definitions for bar and tavern pizzas to enable the relevant threads and posts to be filed in the right places in the forum's indexing system, whether they end up in a new board or an existing or modified board.

As you review the above, you might also find these articles of interest:

https://margotspizza.com/what-is-bar-pizza/ (BTW, Adam is a member of this forum)

https://hiddenboston.com/glossary/bar-pizza.html

https://www.pizzatoday.com/barpies/

https://thetakeout.com/chicago-style-pizza-deep-dish-tavern-steve-dolinsky-1830006453

Peter


Offline HansB

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2020, 01:49:40 PM »

I suppose that Steve could skirt the entire issue by simply changing the board name from Cracker Style to Thin Crust Style and say that that style can include cracker style pizzas and bar/tavern style pizzas with less crispy crusts.

Peter


^^^

That sounds like a good solution.
Hans

Offline spacelooper

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2020, 11:33:41 AM »
It is definitely a confusing topic, as there seems to be overlap and different definitions of the style based on location. If you look at all the different Bar/Tavern pizza across the country you have many variations on a theme. In most Chicago/Midwestern spots it will be a thin, cracker crust that is Party Cut in squares. I say cracker because it literally leaves tiny "saltine cracker" like crumbs on the pan/box. The crust is crisp like a cracker. Other Bar pies like in Massachusetts or New Jersey may be thin and crispy but may also be pliable or foldable. Some are made in a pan, others not. Some cut in squares, some slices. I do agree that "Thin Crust style" would be a good idea and include Bar and Tavern pies etc.

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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2020, 01:00:44 PM »
I will refer the matter to Steve for his consideration.

Peter

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Chicago Thin (Cracker?) Crust Pizza/ Bar Pizza
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2020, 07:18:36 PM »
I will refer the matter to Steve for his consideration.

Peter
Cool. Thanks.
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