There's exciting pizza news, and this time it's Chicago-style: D'Ambrosio's Pizza Pub, is an Italian restaurant newly opened in Grapevine serving pasta and pizza including Chicago-style deep dish, the elusive, much-sought-after category in Dallas-Fort Worth.
D'Ambrosio's is located at 1713 Cross Roads Dr., in a space right off 114/121 that was once a Boston's Pizza and has seen a few concepts — Cultural Catch, Roscoe's NY Diner, The Experience — come and go. It's from Argy Theodorou, a former Chicagoan who was born in Greece but has lived in Chicago for most of his life.
Theodorou grew up in the industry and has more than 30 years experience, including owning a number of restaurants in the Chicago area. He began coming to Texas a few years ago to visit his daughter who lives here, and saw an opportunity to bring authentic Chicago-style cooking to an area that had almost none.
"We do deep-dish pizza, with everything made in-house and all fresh ingredients," he says. "We also do thin-crust pizza. I knew there's a war between New York-style and Chicago-style on which is best, but I grew up in Chicago so I'm biased."
He consulted with experts in Chicago for his recipes. His pizzas are two-plus inches high, baked in a cake-style pan with straight sides, with a high crust enclosing a thick filling of cheese, toppings, and lots of tomato sauce. It's almost like a casserole. The crust is different from a regular pizza crust: more buttery and crisp, with a toasty browned edge.
He also does regular pizza with thinner (although not super thin) crust. Pastas include linguine with vodka sauce and shrimp, and there's also calzone, steak & fries, burgers, chicken wings, and Greek salad.
He's also serving beer and wine, and doing delivery as well.
Theodorou originally had a bigger menu in mind but is keeping it focused to maintain quality control.
Chicago-style pizza is a perennial quest for area foodies, and few concepts have managed to survive. A major loss occurred in August when the Fort Worth branch of the Pizzeria Uno chain closed after 28 years. The Old Chicago chain still has a location at Presidio Crossing in Fort Worth, although that's the only location still open in DFW.
Theodorou's main challenge has been explaining to customers how long the pizza takes to bake.
"A pan pizza, that's what they call it, because it's baked in a pan, it's so deep that it takes about a half an hour to cook," he says. "We don't bake ahead of time, we bake to order, and that's going to be 30 minutes. If you come on the weekend when it gets crowded, it'll probably take 45 minutes. I think there's still a learning curve here on how long it will take."