First Impressions: Fig, Goat Cheese & Broccoli Artisan Pizza from Uno Chicago Grill
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OK, so Murray’s recent musings on the limits of what constitutes pizza (aka, Little Caesars) got me craving pizza the other night. Problem is, I wasn’t exactly craving fast food pizza, and my local area isn’t exactly known for a plethora of wood-burning ovens featuring eclectic and nontraditional ingredient combinations. Clearly I was at a loss, but remembering how one national chain serves up flatbread pizzas, I was hoping Uno Chicago Grill had better offerings to offer than the last BBQ Chicken Pizza I ordered.
I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Uno Chicago Grill. Their take on “authentic” Chicago Deep-Dish aside, I’ve long admired their diverse menu and commitment to having nutritious options. Lately they’ve got my attention with the Snack Items menu, which has some cool, low-cost munchies to enjoy while watching a game in their lounge. Of course, they still do pizza, including their new “Artisan” Thin-Crust pizzas. Offered in three varieties, I checked out the Fig, Goat Cheese and Broccoli while meeting a buddy recently.
Dried figs, fresh broccoli, pesto, roasted tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, goat cheese and balsamic glaze.
I’ve been making a lot of pizzas on my own lately using figs (I use the SeriousEats.com Neapolitan method for a crust to fantastic results — see picture below) but I seldom use pesto and have never had broccoli on pizza.
At $15.99 Uno’s Fig and Goat Cheese pizza is the most expensive flatbread pizza on the menu, so I had my reservations. Size-wise, it’s in the 12-inch range and definitely can be polished off in one-sitting. In fact, I probably wouldn’t recommend sharing it unless you were going with multiple pizzas or some other small plate item.
All that being said, I was really impressed. There’s a great combination of flavors here, starting with the pesto. The olive oil flavor is restrained enough to not overpower the basil, which gives the crust a delicious and sweet herb taste to go along with the salty parmesan baked into the dough. All of it plays wonderfully with the sweet, but slightly sour, balsamic glaze and refreshingly creamy goat cheese.
I’m a big fan of the textures. The crust has a nice chew despite its thin, slightly crispy nature, and the neutral taste takes on the flavor of the pesto and cheese. While the broccoli and the grape tomatoes are a little awkward to eat on the pizza (I recommend a knife and fork) they both take advantage of the natural flavors of the vegetables. The broccoli has a nice, al dente bite despite some char, while the tomatoes have a rich and juicy flavor. Together with melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese and chewy dried figs, and you’re starting to take advantage of a pizza that does a great job achieving balance.
I think the pizza makes a good case for its “Artisan” label, and on flavor alone, it’s definitely a good choice should you find yourself at Uno Chicago Grill. Now, is it worth $15.99? I guess that depends how you like your pizza, and what local options are available. That, and how many beers you’ve had before ordering