I took my daughter to see Wizard of Oz at Clowes Hall the other day—I needed somewhere we could eat an early supper nearby before the 6:30 show time. No idea where her love of musical theater comes from…but that’s another story.
I remembered hearing about Byrne’s Grilled Pizza taking over the old Oh Yumm spot on Illinois and thought it would be perfect. They are also open all day and on Sundays. Check and check. Byrnes started its life as a food truck that many people had mentioned to me, but I had never gotten a chance to try. Nice to see they have done well enough to move into a brick and mortar spot.
Because it was so early, we were the only ones there for a while, but our server was exceptionally friendly and helpful. We started with an order of breadsticks (2 or 4 per order, we had 2) with a side of garlic olive oil for dipping (there are several dipping options) ($3.25). The breadsticks are their pizza dough done in a chewy breadstick and topped with salt. Interesting, because their pizza crusts are the super thin type, but these were pretty good. I really enjoyed the garlic dipping sauce, which was a pretty simple combo of good quality olive oil and minced garlic. The garlic was yummy, as garlic tends to be.
Their pizzas come in two sizes—the smaller one being a personal pan size. We each got one of these. It was a good way to try two completely different pies as well. I had “The Californian” ($10) and my daughter the “PBS” ($10). We both enjoyed our pizzas. Mine was topped with red sauce, spinach, bacon, plum tomato slices and avocado. And cheese of course. The crust here is very thin and crisp—almost more like a flatbread. I enjoyed the nice change of pace. I also liked that they gave you just enough of each topping, and not so much that the pizza became soggy or overwhelmed. They also liberally season their pizzas with dried herbs.
My daughter’s PBS had pepperoni, Smoking Goose jowl bacon and sausage (and cheese and red sauce). She really seemed to enjoy it. She ordered it because it had Smoking Goose bacon and she “only eats bacon from Smoking Goose.” Seriously. It’s kind of a problem because there’s a lot of bacon in this world that isn’t Smoking Goose. Anyhow, she ate almost all of it, which is a sure sign that she enjoyed it. She prefers the crumbly bits of sausage on pizza and that is the kind they use here. Again, super crispy crust.
I was also happy to see that Byrnes had also acquired the Oh Yumm chocolate chip bread pudding recipe. Whenever hubby and ate there, we always looked forward to this dessert. It was still delicious—studded with lots of chocolate chips in a very moist bread pudding topped with vanilla and raspberry sauce and a couple slices of strawberry. It was nice to see it passed along. Apparently Byrnes hired several of the staff from Oh Yumm as well, which was also nice to hear.
The interior is a little more stark, with some wooden beams added to the ceiling and a counter from which you can order carry out (which seemed a popular option as people were coming in the whole time we were there to do just that on a cold Sunday evening). If you like that cracker thin type of crust, and more creative topping options than many places are offering (would like to try the Mexican pizza), you should check this place out. Let me know what you think.
Byrne’s Grilled Pizza
5615 N. Illinois Street