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Great Lake, best pizza in america

Great Lake, best pizza in america
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  • Post #481 - May 5th, 2012, 5:09 pm
    Post #481 - May 5th, 2012, 5:09 pm Post #481 - May 5th, 2012, 5:09 pm
    If it counts for anything. Last time there Lydia gave me a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies before leaving. :D But then I did get up to close the door a few times as the cold winter air was unforgiving in such a small space.
  • Post #482 - May 6th, 2012, 6:54 am
    Post #482 - May 6th, 2012, 6:54 am Post #482 - May 6th, 2012, 6:54 am
    We had a terrific meal at Great Lake a couple weeks ago. The two of us split a bacon, onion, creme fraiche pizza and had a salad with asparagus, fried ramp bulbs and raw ramp leaves. We also had some of Lydia's cookies for dessert.
    I love, love, love the pizza at Great Lake. But I have to say, the meticulously crafted salads don't get nearly as much fanfare as they deserve. Also, the cookies, which we ordered on the way out the door as an afterthought, were outstanding. Honestly, it was the memory of the rosemary shortbread that made me call the following week to see what the wait was like; unfortunately, they were closed that week and I haven't had a chance to get back yet.
  • Post #483 - May 6th, 2012, 7:45 am
    Post #483 - May 6th, 2012, 7:45 am Post #483 - May 6th, 2012, 7:45 am
    Definitely agree about the salads. Wonderful.
  • Post #484 - May 6th, 2012, 8:02 am
    Post #484 - May 6th, 2012, 8:02 am Post #484 - May 6th, 2012, 8:02 am
    Marija wrote:Definitely agree about the salads. Wonderful.


    I guess they would be even better if they included everything they are supposed to have in them....

    Or, maybe they could mention as one orders something along the lines of " we're sorry, our supplier of walnuts could not make a delivery this week so no nuts in the salad". As apossed to them sort of shrugging it off when asked at the end of the meal....

    If you are going to care so much about sourcing you ingredients great, how about a little care for the paying customers?
  • Post #485 - May 6th, 2012, 8:58 am
    Post #485 - May 6th, 2012, 8:58 am Post #485 - May 6th, 2012, 8:58 am
    thaiobsessed wrote:We had a terrific meal at Great Lake a couple weeks ago. The two of us split a bacon, onion, creme fraiche pizza and had a salad with asparagus, fried ramp bulbs and raw ramp leaves. We also had some of Lydia's cookies for dessert.
    I love, love, love the pizza at Great Lake. But I have to say, the meticulously crafted salads don't get nearly as much fanfare as they deserve. Also, the cookies, which we ordered on the way out the door as an afterthought, were outstanding. Honestly, it was the memory of the rosemary shortbread that made me call the following week to see what the wait was like; unfortunately, they were closed that week and I haven't had a chance to get back yet.

    Agreed with respect to the salads . . . and the cookies. Lydia was kind enough to treat us to those rosemary shortbread on my last visit and they were really outstanding. I'm happy to hear that there are people willing to stay away and never give Great Lake a chance . . . anything to help me get a table. :wink:
  • Post #486 - May 6th, 2012, 1:04 pm
    Post #486 - May 6th, 2012, 1:04 pm Post #486 - May 6th, 2012, 1:04 pm
    BR wrote:I'm happy to hear that there are people willing to stay away and never give Great Lake a chance . . . anything to help me get a table. :wink:

    You owe me one. :wink:
  • Post #487 - May 6th, 2012, 6:22 pm
    Post #487 - May 6th, 2012, 6:22 pm Post #487 - May 6th, 2012, 6:22 pm
    BR wrote:
    thaiobsessed wrote:We had a terrific meal at Great Lake a couple weeks ago.
    Agreed with respect to the salads . . . and the cookies. I'm happy to hear that there are people willing to stay away and never give Great Lake a chance . . . anything to help me get a table. :wink:


    Ditto. had the ramps & asparagus salad. We waited a bit longer for the 2nd pizza & Mr.pairs4life thought the cookies were fantastic (he's not much of a dessert eater usually).

    Consistently it's the best pizza I've ever tasted, and yes I went back to GNR Spacca Napolil last Friday night for fantastic pizza as usual.

    I don't know how much longer Nick & Lydia will last, it seems like an awful lot labor and I imagine, after expenses they aren't "rolling in the dough" :mrgreen: , but as long as they are here, count me a very happy customer.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #488 - May 7th, 2012, 10:04 am
    Post #488 - May 7th, 2012, 10:04 am Post #488 - May 7th, 2012, 10:04 am
    Made it back to Great Lakes after a year of being away. Not on purpose of course! I've found the best way to build an appetite is to bike the 5 miles up to Andersonville from Wicker Park and then enjoy the crazy burst of carb energy on the way back. We had their number 1 pizza (lamb's cheese, tomato sauce, with mortadella). I had no idea their mortadella was from Butcher and Larder (but now, making it a mental note to pick up mortadella from B&L). Again, the richness of the lamb cheese, the sweet savory tomato sauce, and dear god that crust. It was as perfect as I ever remember a pizza being. We also tried the number 4, which was onions, creme fraiche and bacon. It was a different sort of pizza, more subtle and sweet.
    Eaterlover eats at writes at bicurean.com
  • Post #489 - May 7th, 2012, 9:00 pm
    Post #489 - May 7th, 2012, 9:00 pm Post #489 - May 7th, 2012, 9:00 pm
    We had their number 1 pizza (lamb's cheese, tomato sauce, with mortadella). . . Again, the richness of the lamb cheese


    . . . that cheese is actually a sheep's milk cheese; 'Dante Lamb' is the variety brand. Lambs, having not hit sheep puberty, aren't capable of producing milk.
  • Post #490 - October 30th, 2012, 8:56 pm
    Post #490 - October 30th, 2012, 8:56 pm Post #490 - October 30th, 2012, 8:56 pm
    Big news for fans of Lydia's terrific cookies . . . and a chance to try out sandwiches from Great Lake this Sunday (November 4), beginning at 11am at Great Lake:

    http://www.timeoutchicago.com/restauran ... ookie-sale
  • Post #491 - November 5th, 2012, 3:09 pm
    Post #491 - November 5th, 2012, 3:09 pm Post #491 - November 5th, 2012, 3:09 pm
    Very much enjoyed our first visit this past Saturday. Making a pizza with tomatillo salsa, sheep's milk cheese and mortadalla is a bit of a juggling act, but they had those ingredients in perfect balance, thereby creating a unique and wonderful pizza. And they manage to get a superb crust from a regular old pizza oven. A roasted cauliflower appetizer was simple and perfect.

    This is some fine pizza. We didn't have to wait because we purchased a no wait dinner for two through a charity auction. I detest waiting for tables, so it's not likely we'll be back, but if I were to go to a wait-for-a-table kind of place, this would be worth the wait.

    Jonah
  • Post #492 - November 6th, 2012, 1:43 pm
    Post #492 - November 6th, 2012, 1:43 pm Post #492 - November 6th, 2012, 1:43 pm
    Nick Lessins in this past Sunday's New York Times Style Magazine http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012 ... -thin-man/
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #493 - January 6th, 2013, 9:04 pm
    Post #493 - January 6th, 2013, 9:04 pm Post #493 - January 6th, 2013, 9:04 pm
    We are devastated. Alistair just ran into Nick & Lydia last week at GNR Floriole.


    Great Lake, the restaurant that has been hailed locally and nationally as having the best pizza in the country, is closing.
    The restaurant is set to close at the end of the month, according to Danny Yuen, who owns the building in Andersonville that houses Great Lake.
    Mr. Yuen, who has owned the property for about 20 years, said Great Lake owners Nick Lessins and Lydia Esparza declined to renew their lease after about five years of business and told him they plan to move. Mr. Yuen in turn posted a "For Rent" sign in the window of the intimate 14-seat spot.
    According to a source, Mr. Lessins and Ms. Esparza apparently have been unhappy with their situation and have wanted Mr. Yuen to make necessary repairs and updates to the building. Mr. Yuen declined to comment about that, but did say he is looking for a new tenant.

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... of-january
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #494 - January 7th, 2013, 7:40 am
    Post #494 - January 7th, 2013, 7:40 am Post #494 - January 7th, 2013, 7:40 am
    This is a bummer, for purely selfish reasons I hope they stay on the northside but I wouldn't be shocked if they rode the wave into Logan Square.
  • Post #495 - January 7th, 2013, 9:26 am
    Post #495 - January 7th, 2013, 9:26 am Post #495 - January 7th, 2013, 9:26 am
    pairsforlife wrote:We are devastated.
    :? Devastated? Because they're moving? Devastated is when they close forever. Hopefully they go into a suitable space that works for everyone. I still have yet to try it, but I was looking forward to it.
  • Post #496 - January 7th, 2013, 10:35 am
    Post #496 - January 7th, 2013, 10:35 am Post #496 - January 7th, 2013, 10:35 am
    Ram4 wrote:
    pairsforlife wrote:We are devastated.
    :? Devastated? Because they're moving? Devastated is when they close forever. Hopefully they go into a suitable space that works for everyone. I still have yet to try it, but I was looking forward to it.


    Nope. Devastated because new location and opening date haven't been announced... Yet. The unknown is disconcerting for me.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #497 - January 7th, 2013, 11:03 am
    Post #497 - January 7th, 2013, 11:03 am Post #497 - January 7th, 2013, 11:03 am
    Just had to chime in for some love/support for Great Lake. I'm up in Andersonville, and the SO and I have enjoyed Nick & Lydia's food many times. I hope they find a great home and don't change a bit.

    BTW, I've never understood the service complaints. Nick & Lydia have been nothing but charming, accommodating, and wonderful every time I've dined there. They have their rules; but like Eddie Lakin and Doug Sohn, they have their way of doing things, and it's all about bringing their experience to their customers. Some people just aren't accustomed to having owners who override "the customer is always right," especially when it's bad for them and their other customers. Ask Eddie about the "order first, then take your seat" rule. He's right, and his customers are wrong, no matter what they're used to. Service is about more than ass kissing. It's about making the most efficient and fast experience for *everyone* in the restaurant, not just one guest.

    And as someone who's been sitting at that communal table when person after person walks in on their cell phone and doesn't close the door on a cold winter day, it's VERY VERY annoying. The door not closing is probably one of the type of repair issues that Nick & Lydia are miffed about, IMHO, as they should be. If Grant Achatz had a draft in his restaurant, you could be damn sure it would be taken care of. I expect that such things must irk Nick & Lydia to no end.

    Much love to Great Lake, and I'll definitely be eating too much from them this month in case they opt to not continue.
  • Post #498 - January 7th, 2013, 11:50 am
    Post #498 - January 7th, 2013, 11:50 am Post #498 - January 7th, 2013, 11:50 am
    madopal wrote:Just had to chime in for some love/support for Great Lake. I'm up in Andersonville, and the SO and I have enjoyed Nick & Lydia's food many times. I hope they find a great home and don't change a bit.

    BTW, I've never understood the service complaints. Nick & Lydia have been nothing but charming, accommodating, and wonderful every time I've dined there. They have their rules; but like Eddie Lakin and Doug Sohn, they have their way of doing things, and it's all about bringing their experience to their customers. Some people just aren't accustomed to having owners who override "the customer is always right," especially when it's bad for them and their other customers. Ask Eddie about the "order first, then take your seat" rule. He's right, and his customers are wrong, no matter what they're used to. Service is about more than ass kissing. It's about making the most efficient and fast experience for *everyone* in the restaurant, not just one guest.

    And as someone who's been sitting at that communal table when person after person walks in on their cell phone and doesn't close the door on a cold winter day, it's VERY VERY annoying. The door not closing is probably one of the type of repair issues that Nick & Lydia are miffed about, IMHO, as they should be. If Grant Achatz had a draft in his restaurant, you could be damn sure it would be taken care of. I expect that such things must irk Nick & Lydia to no end.

    Much love to Great Lake, and I'll definitely be eating too much from them this month in case they opt to not continue.

    Nothing I can add to that. Well said and completely agree!
  • Post #499 - January 7th, 2013, 1:55 pm
    Post #499 - January 7th, 2013, 1:55 pm Post #499 - January 7th, 2013, 1:55 pm
    As a parent this place lost my support when I read the distantly aforementioned anecdote wherein the proprietors refused to let a kid use their bathroom. My kids have used both the bathroom at Katy's in Westmont and the one at Hoosier Mama, and if those tiny walk-through-the-kitchen spots could make exceptions, so could Great Lake. Closing the door on a cold day is one thing. Telling the customer to order first is OK. But asking a customer to take their kid somewhere else to use the bathroom? Lame.

    I hope they find another spot that allows them to up the hospitality a touch. Though there is some irony in a place notorious for denying customer requests ending a lease because their landlord would not agree to their requests.
  • Post #500 - January 7th, 2013, 2:02 pm
    Post #500 - January 7th, 2013, 2:02 pm Post #500 - January 7th, 2013, 2:02 pm
    Vitesse98 wrote:As a parent this place lost my support when I read the distantly aforementioned anecdote wherein the proprietors refused to let a kid use their bathroom. My kids have used both the bathroom at Katy's in Westmont and the one at Hoosier Mama, and if those tiny walk-through-the-kitchen spots could make exceptions, so could Great Lake. Closing the door on a cold day is one thing. Telling the customer to order first is OK. But asking a customer to take their kid somewhere else to use the bathroom? Lame.

    I hope they find another spot that allows them to up the hospitality a touch. Though there is some irony in a place notorious for denying customer requests ending a lease because their landlord would not agree to their requests.


    We don't need to rehash the bathroom discussion. We also don't know what the facts are regarding what requests they made and what their landlord offered or didn't offer to do [maybe they asked for a bathroom. :)]. Let's try to keep this thread on track.
  • Post #501 - January 27th, 2013, 12:28 am
    Post #501 - January 27th, 2013, 12:28 am Post #501 - January 27th, 2013, 12:28 am
    According to David Tamarkin at TOC, Great Lake is now closed, with some not-entirely-disclosed future plans . . .

    on 1/23/13, David Tamarkin wrote:Lydia Esparza from Great Lake just called to make sure people know that Great Lake's Andersonville location is officially closed for good. As if I could forget.

    Great Lake is closed. But not for long.

    =R=
    I'm flattered to know how much my opinion still means to you --Anon

    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #502 - January 17th, 2014, 4:26 pm
    Post #502 - January 17th, 2014, 4:26 pm Post #502 - January 17th, 2014, 4:26 pm
    still haven't heard anything new from Lydia. Great Lake's old space is now a hot dog joint.
  • Post #503 - January 17th, 2019, 11:39 am
    Post #503 - January 17th, 2019, 11:39 am Post #503 - January 17th, 2019, 11:39 am
    Great Lake Pizza returning for a one-night pop-up at Cellar Door
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #504 - January 17th, 2019, 5:59 pm
    Post #504 - January 17th, 2019, 5:59 pm Post #504 - January 17th, 2019, 5:59 pm


    Just came to post this :)
  • Post #505 - January 17th, 2019, 8:12 pm
    Post #505 - January 17th, 2019, 8:12 pm Post #505 - January 17th, 2019, 8:12 pm
    What have they been doing since closing the pizzeria?
  • Post #506 - January 18th, 2019, 3:20 pm
    Post #506 - January 18th, 2019, 3:20 pm Post #506 - January 18th, 2019, 3:20 pm
    ld111134 wrote:What have they been doing since closing the pizzeria?


    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=40394
  • Post #507 - January 18th, 2019, 5:06 pm
    Post #507 - January 18th, 2019, 5:06 pm Post #507 - January 18th, 2019, 5:06 pm
    Chitown B wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:What have they been doing since closing the pizzeria?


    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=40394


    So, should I conclude that they are totally out of the restaurant business?
  • Post #508 - January 18th, 2019, 8:21 pm
    Post #508 - January 18th, 2019, 8:21 pm Post #508 - January 18th, 2019, 8:21 pm
    ld111134 wrote:
    Chitown B wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:What have they been doing since closing the pizzeria?


    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=40394


    So, should I conclude that they are totally out of the restaurant business?


    Lydia has been vague with me for awhile (we moved to the burbs and haven’t spoken much lately) but I know they’ve been missing it.
  • Post #509 - February 4th, 2019, 8:17 pm
    Post #509 - February 4th, 2019, 8:17 pm Post #509 - February 4th, 2019, 8:17 pm
    Great Lake 1.jpg
    The Cellar Door 5th Anniversary Party Featuring Great Lake was tonight. Not surprisingly, the place was packed. I got there about 10 minutes before opening and the line was about 40 deep. The slow-moving line was even longer when I got in the door about an hour later.

    Great Lake 2.jpg
    As was made clear ahead of time, Nick Lessins would not be making the pies that put him on the map, but would instead be making square pizzas. It turned out they were more focaccia than pizza. But if he opened a shop selling nothing but this stuff, the demand would rival Great Lake.

    Great Lake 3.jpg
    There were only two pizzas available, plain and mushroom. Customers were limited to two slices apiece, so I chose one of each. Both were fantastic, but I'd give a big nod to the mushroom pizza which was reminiscent of the pie that was consistently listed as Pizza #1 on the menu at the old shop. Pretty much any topping would be secondary to the stellar "crust" that formed the base of the pizzas. Hopefully the response to tonight's event will inspire Great Lake 2.0 at some point, or at least some more pop-ups.

    Great Lake salad resized.jpg
    As was the case at Great Lake, Lydia Esparza made some excellent salads for the event; a well-curated selection of vegetables tossed in a dressing she made using Cellar Door Provisions' housemade buttermilk.
  • Post #510 - February 4th, 2019, 9:54 pm
    Post #510 - February 4th, 2019, 9:54 pm Post #510 - February 4th, 2019, 9:54 pm
    It was so good. I also made the mistake of aiming to arrive a few moments before 5 pm and was shocked. And then I recalled it was just like the shop in Andersonville.
    Either you got there 30 minutes before opening bell or show up 90 minutes later.

    I agree the pizza was different than what I expected of Detroit-Style largely because it was so light. The mushroom was delicious but I got a huge hit of childhood nostalgia from the oregano on the tomato mozzarella. I tried to order 4 slices so I could take some to go. I spoke to someone else there who also was unable to get more than 2 slices.

    That has got to be one of the best winter salads I have had in a very long time. I don't recall any green but the ribboned vegetables were ridiculously good.

    They smiled a lot. It looked like they were having a good time. I opted not to interfere when I left. A lot of folks insisted on hugs.

    It felt like what I love about a GNR.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening

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