Congress Park is in for a square deal: Tonight, Blue Pan Pizza will start serving its deep-dish, Detroit-style pizza at a second location, 3509 East 12th Avenue. Founded by Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin, Blue Pan has been up and running at 3930 West 32nd Avenue since June 2015, and this year it won our award for Best Pizzeria.
While dinner at the original Blue Pan is a tight squeeze, the new pizzeria is considerably more spacious and boasts a larger kitchen with additional oven decks. That means there's been room to expand the menu: Smokevitch points to a new white pizza with a ricotta-based sauce, as well as an arancini appetizer stuffed with Wisconsin brick cheese, rice and artichoke hearts. The bar has expanded, too, with twenty tap handles and a deep wine list.
For east-side residents new to the Blue Pan experience, the star on the menu is the Detroit-style pie, baked at high temperature in a high-sided steel pan. The crust that results is crunchy and airy, unlike breadier Sicilian pizza, and the cheese goes all the way to the edge of the pan, creating a caramelized rim that aficionados claim is the best part of a slice.
But Blue Pan also turns out a thin, crisp, Italian-style crust; an even thinner Chicago cracker-thin crust; and a floppy New York-style pie with an impressive 22-inch diameter. You can order house combinations designed specifically for each style or can wing it with a selection of choose-your-own toppings. The Italian and Detroit pizzas are available in gluten-free versions; the Detroit-style, in particular, is a standout for gluten-free diners.
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Flanagin and Smokevitch have been training new staff at the West Highland location for the past month, so they expect service at the Congress Park outpost to be seamless and the pizzas to be every bit as good as at the original. The restaurant will be open daily from 4 to 10 p.m., with dine-in and takeout options; delivery will be added soon.