Purgatory Pizza – Chicago, IL

Main Entry: pur·ga·to·ry
Pronunciation: \ˈpər-gə-ˌtȯr-ē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural pur·ga·to·ries
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Medieval Latin; Anglo-French purgatorie, from Medieval Latin purgatorium, from Late Latin, neuter of purgatorius purging, from Latin purgare
Date: 13th century

  1. an intermediate state after death for expiatory purification; specifically : a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God’s grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven
  2. a place or state of temporary suffering or misery
  3. Iron Maiden’s fifth single
  4. Chicago Celtic Punk band The Tossers fourth studio album.
  5. 1999 western fantasy film directed by Uli Edel.

I think we discovered how Purgatory Pizza got their name.  This Uli Edel inspired Wrigleyville pizza place is ripe with imagery from his classic Western film set in the eponymous town, paying special dedication to Randy Quaid and Eric Roberts.

Isn’t it sad that Body of Evidence was so universally reviled that Mr. Edel was banished to the world of procedural dramas directors after it came out?  Poor guy.  Madonna is not afraid to leave a trail of bodies in her quest to add to her resume of bad fPurgatory Pizzailm acting!

Actually, Purgatory Pizza would be aptly named because the wait time for your food can be a little trying.  Depending on how hungry you are, it can be downright maddening.  In our case, it took so long, time actually reversed, our hunger completely looped itself, and we were hungry no longer.

Located across from the Pick Me Up Cafe up in Wrigleyville (so good luck finding parking until fall!), Purgatory actually earned its name from the painted flames of hell shooting from the floor turning into the white, fluffy clouds of heaven.  It’s a fun idea for a restaurant, without being nearly as tacky as it could be.  Could you imagine the same idea in the hands of an Applebee’s like company?  All that plastic heaven/hell themed crap everywhere makes the mind boggle.

We met up with our friends, N8 and Elaine, Sunday night to check out the newly opened pizzeria.  The buzz had been positive, and we were all looking for something new to try.  They arrived 5-10 minutes before us, ordering appetizers as we crawled around the neighborhood looking for some post-game parking.  Luckily it was post-game just enough that the area was nearly empty, making parking at least a plausible idea.

We shared hellos with our friends, who told us they had already ordered appetizers.  We ordered a couple Sweet Teas and tucked ourselves in with visions of thin crust dancing in our heads.  And then the waiting started.  For mozzarella sticks and bread sticks, the total wait time was easily 20 minutes, if not a few minutes longer.  We originally scratched it up to it being a Sunday after the game, but the place was surprisingly empty for it being nearly 7 PM.

The sweet tea arrived, and after just one sip, we realized that tea must have been sitting out a little TOO long in the sun, or some other such fate.  It had the bitter taste that only spoiled tea has.  But hey, free refills!  Elaine was just as unpleased with her Ginger Ale.  We were really starting to worry that our random  restaurant selection would be a huge bust.

We placed our orders for the pizzas, N&E ordering a thin crust Zeal pizza: eggplant, squash, zucchini, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, mozzarella.  We ordered the Purgatory pie, a choose-your-own-adventure of pizza goodness.  Our choices: spinach, feta, sun dried tomatoes and fresh garlic, were stuffed in between two layers of their special thin crust (special because of the PBR used in the mix).

The appetizers arrived, and our fears were allayed a bit.  These were some DAMN tasty cheese sticks!  And the bread sticks, while needing a little extra salt, were also pretty damn delicious.  They also both went quite quick.

We waited some more.  The pizza probably didn’t arrive for another 20-25 minutes, giving it a total cooking time of 45 minutes easy.  If they were both deep dish pizzas, we could understand, but with a thin crust, and an adapted thin crust, you would think they would have been out in 20 minutes.  But no.  We apparently hadn’t atoned enough for our dietary sins.

The pizza though?  Absolutely, without question, delicious.  The crust is light and crisp, looking much like fried won ton wrapper.  Who knew that adding some working class PBR to a pizza’s crust would make it so damn tasty?  I’m no fan of a pizza covered in vegetables, but the veggies on the Zeal pizza were actually individually full of flavor, not the green mushperonion non-flavor that usually plagues most veggie pies.  The Purgatory pizza was also a winner.  The flavors blended well together, so much so, that our pizza was declared the victor of the evening.

I would absolutely recommend checking out Purgatory Pizza…in a month or two.  With a list of nearly two dozen ingredients to mix and match, from  They just need to work some shit out in the kitchen, cutting down on the wait time for the food.  Because once they do, you’d be a damn fool not to add Purgatory to your rotation of regular pizza joints.

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