Despite the pitchers of beer, it's not a scene from a keg party. It's the dough room at Bob's Pizza in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, where they're taking a different approach to making pizza from scratch.
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"We didn't want to be classified as New York. We didn't want to be classified as Neapolitan or Chicago or New Haven. We wanted to do our own thing," said Matthew Wilde, the owner. That means subbing beer for water.
After the beer is added to the bowl of a giant stand mixer, they whisk in dry-active yeast and sugar, and let it stand for five minutes. Then all of the flour is added - in this case, 00 flour - and they turn the mixer on to its lowest setting. Garlic powder, salt and oil are added.
Once the mixture is fully incorporated, it rests, for at least two days. Then the dough is pretty supple and easy to stretch. It only takes Wilde about two minutes to stretch it out to fit his wooden pizza peel.
"What is unique about it is how the beer plays with the yeast, or how the yeast is affected by the beer, and vice versa," Wilde said. "Because it's got all that carbonation, so it does almost the same thing as the yeast does."
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Now, he can do standard stuff, like rich tomato sauce, crumbled sausage and cheese - although his cheese is more than mozzarella.
"I love Swiss cheese, so I added Swiss cheese to my blend, which is really unique. In the end, we do cut it with a little bit of Parmesan as well, just to add some sharpness," he said.
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After it's baked, he adds fresh herbs, cracked pepper and sea salt, and some pickled onions. But do try the pickle pizza.
"It's one of those pizzas that you read on the menu and you think about it, and you're like, 'Do I really want to eat that?'" he said.
Yes, you do. A garlic cream base is barely covered by slices of mortadella. On goes his three-cheese blend, then a large handful of thinly-sliced pickles, plus, fresh dill sprigs. Then into the oven for about seven minutes. When it emerges, he finishes it with black pepper and sea salt.
"I always tell everybody, if you're one of those people that dip your pizza in ranch or something like that - which I don't necessarily agree with, each to their own - that's your pizza," Wilde said.
1659 W. 21st St.