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Zander Meisner Comes Back Home With ONCE

Actor Zander Meisner on coming back hometo Chicago with Once the Musical

ZanderMeisner copySweet home Chicago!  Being born and raised in these parts, its always an absolute joy to return to Chi-town.  And the fall is definitely the best time to do so.  People ask me what I really love about coming back; is it the beautiful river?  My high school buds who live in the uber fun neighborhoods Wicker Park and Lincoln Park?  Field Museum and the Art Institute?  Garretts’ Popcorn (the odor of which amazingly fills the lobby of the Oriental Theatre giving a metaphorical hug to all who enter)?

No.  Its the pizza.  I love the pizza.  Deep dish pizza, although in Chicago, the words “deep dish” combined with “pizza” is redundant.  There is truly nothing like it in New York, slapping in the face those that claim “New York has everything.”  Trust me.  It does NOT have Gino’s East, Pequod’s, Lou’s, or my personal favorite, Edwardo’s.  Each has its unique qualities, Now that we’re on week three of our Chicago run ofOnce, I have only Edwardo’s to conquer before I’ve rocked my personal four favorites.

How do I love thee?  Even though keeping healthy is part of an actors’ daily job, the classic pizza joints make it difficult.  Allow me to explain how:

Gino’s – A classic choice, and the Gino’s East Sports Bar allows for a prime way to eat amazing deep dish and watch your favorite football game (Bear down).  The cheese dominates this pizza, and the tomatoes are lightly pureed so if you like smaller chunks of tomato this is your bag.

Pequod’s – CARMELIZED CRUST.  Need I say more? These guys have figured out how to make eating the crust a prime part of pie-consumption.  Melting/slash/burning cheese on the edge of the crust may seem like a Pizza Hut gimmick, but trust me… combined with classic deep dish techniques, you’re in for some crazy good pizza.

Lou Malnatis – Yeah, you can never go wrong with Lou’s.  Not quite as much cheese as its competitors, but they use a Paula Deen amount of butter in their crust making for a wonderful flakey pizza eating experience that is considered by many to be “the real thing.”

Edwardo’s – Oh Edwardo’s…I may have a special affinity for this pizza because they had suburban joints that my family would frequently attend, but this one takes the cake.  Simply because their ingredients are super incredible.  All natural, and no BS.  The spinach in their deep dish is some of the greenest I’ve ever seen, and the definitely use the best mozzarella.

So yeah, you can imagine my time here has been slightly caloric, but you only live once.  And life is made better with this pizza. Obsessed?  Yeah, maybe. : )


Once the Musical plays at the Oriental Theatre through October 27. You can purchase tickets here.