I consider myself an expert on all things Chicago. I can pick the city's preeminent chefs out of a lineup. I know where the places are that don't show up on the radar of tourists or the full-time locals. I even once had a roommate who regularly ordered Italian beef stuffed pizza from Lou Malnati's (you don't even want to know; the guy also never did his laundry and watched professional wrestling with his friend, the one with a four foot long mullet. It wasn't pretty).
So the first time I noticed Fabian's Chicago Style Pizza Place, I knew eventually that I would have to throw my two cents worth in.
Fabian's is located in the Short North. There is seating for about 50 people and a bar with a select number of microbrew taps and the requisite happy hour specials, including $5 off a small and $7 off a large Chicago-style pizza from 3 pm - 8 pm.
There are a limited number of vegetarian options on the menu. There is thin and thick crust pizza, stromboli, a veggie sub and a pasta dish. However, the pizza seems to be the featured attraction.
The Chicago-style pizza is well made. It is thick, piled with fresh toppings and gobs of mozzarella in a mild red sauce. The crust is of a medium thickness, and the pizza is very filling.
While the pizza is tasty, there is one minor detail: it isn't particularly authentic Chicago pizza. I didn't get a chance to sample the thin crust pizza, but while the deep dish was made in a pan, the proportions and flavors did not take me back to Clark Street. It didn't make me pine wistfully for the old Tuesday night jazz shows at the Empty Bottle.
I liked the pizza, but I didn't like it because of its City of Big Shoulders roots. It came off as a solid attempt at Chicago style, but it was missing something a little je ne sais quoi. It's a quality pie that is marginally closer to Chicago style than Taco Bell is to Mexican style.
This limits local vegetarians looking for Windy City heat to two options. Either head to Wholly Joe's up by Polaris, or drive six hours to Chicago so you can get a mozzarella, provolone, asiago, smoked gouda and pesto pizza from Pinocchio's or the cornmeal dusted thin crust at Barnaby's or the 5,000 calorie-per-slice goodness of Giordano's stuffed crust pizza or a whole wheat crust pesto pizza from Edwardo's. Option three is to enjoy Fabian's as quality pizza in the Short North (which is about as close practically and geographically as it gets to true Chicago style).