Restaurant review by Amy Cavanaugh
If I can’t be hunkered down on the couch re-watching Sherlock, there are few places I’d rather spend a polar vortex than a Brendan Sodikoff restaurant. Excluding the teeny Doughnut Vault, the rest—including Bavette’s and Au Cheval—have a warm golden glow and serve exactly the kind of cheesy, meaty comfort food required to see one through the Chicago weather.
Roxie’s by the Slice, Sodikoff’s latest restaurant, follows that pattern. It’s his take on a pizza joint, and there are wooden tables topped with lights, a low tin ceiling and a big oven in the back, where finished pies await their second spin through the oven after toppings are added. Only a few tables were occupied on the freezing night I was there, but the space was warm, cozy and comfortable. Roxie’s isn’t designed for a big, sit-down meal, but rather to grab a quick slice for dinner or after a night at the bars, which is when I suspect you’ll like it most. That’s because, unlike other Sodikoff ventures, it doesn’t seek to redefine a genre, the way Doughnut Vault kickstarted our city’s doughnut obsession and Au Cheval gave us the definitive Chicago burger in a re-imagined diner. Instead, this is a perfectly fine pizza slice—it’s not close to our city’s best pizza, but it's certainly not the worst.
Order at the counter next to the vintage fridge, which is decorated with state magnets and filled with Mexican sodas and canned beers. The counter is covered with shot glasses and a bottle of Evan Williams Black, so start your meal with a $3 whiskey shot if you’re so inclined. I wasn’t, and instead ordered from the good selection of draft beers, like Greenbush Closure and Deschutes Mirror Pond, which run from $3 (for High Life) to $8.
The menu is on the wall and it’s simple—choose a red or white slice ($4.50), then add toppings for $1 a pop. There are anchovies, sweet peppers, pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, soppressata, arugula and prosciutto, and the friendly women manning the counter told us that the salty toppings, like anchovies or soppressata, worked better on the milder white pies, which have an olive oil, garlic and cheese sauce, versus the brighter red sauce. My date and I tried four combinations (white with anchovies, white with soppressata, red with pepperoni and red with sweet peppers), all on a serviceable crust that’s crisp on the bottom with an airy edge. The paper-thin slices of soppressata added the right amount of salt to the white pie, but I’d steer clear of the very fishy anchovies. For the other toppings, the thick coins of pepperoni had a pleasant low burn while the sweet peppers were nice and piquant, and the red sauce with sweet peppers was easily our favorite slice. Four slices is probably more than two people need, but while the staff told us that the slices were “really big,” one per person wasn’t enough, but two was too much, so I’d order three slices for two people.
Roxie’s did introduce me to one thing, though—dipping pizza crusts into ranch dressing. There are little containers of the condiment, along with Parmesan and giardiniera, in the fridge for the taking. Ranch-dipped crusts are kind of gross, but also kind of awesome, and just the sort of thing you want after a night out—or when you’re filling up before heading into the polar vortex.
|Venue name:||Roxie's By the Slice (CLOSED)||Contact:|
1732 N Milwaukee Ave
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 6-11pm|
|Transport:||El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 56, 72.|
|Do you own this business?|
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Brendan Sodikoff shut Roxie's down in June to open a "summer burger pop-up." Six weeks later and there is no pop-up, and certainly no pizza.
Slices at the restaurant costed $3.50, with an addition $1 per topping. The spot also had a great selection of craft beer on tap, including five selections from Local Option. They also had shots of Evan Williams whiskey available for $3.
The patio at Roxie's was a booming place, with cerebral conversation rivaling a Socratic dialogue. Now it's empty and, like the ruins of Greece's once glorious civilization, there are few signs of what happened there.