Bloomberg reports that while "Chicago will forever be associated with the gut-busting deep-dish version," more recently, "it’s the city’s crisp-crusted, tavern-style pie that’s dominating menus from New York to Los Angeles … A tavern pie bears little resemblance to its pudgy, deep-dish cousin. The slim, butter-imbued crust can be as crunchy as a Saltine cracker when its done right. It’s loaded with toppings - the classic is Italian sausage - that spill from edge-to-edge and over the sides of the round pie. It’s cut into small squares, perfect for balancing a beer in one hand and a slice in the other."
The story goes on:
"In fact, the shape is key to the pie’s origin story. Steve Dolinsky, Chicago pizza expert and author of The Ultimate Chicago Pizza Guide: A History of Square & Slices in the Windy City, believes the style was born in the 1940s when bar owners with kitchens started offering customers a salty bite alongside a frosty beer or whiskey shot. They cut them into small squares 'so they’d fit on a cocktail napkin,' says Dolinsky, enabling patrons to eat without plates or utensils.
"It was a way for tavern owners 'to keep patrons at the bar as long as possible after their work day,' explains Scardino. In the ’40s, his grandfather, also named Tony Sardino, began making the crisp pies: He would 'lace the pizzas with anchovy oil or diced anchovies for added salt content - in order to entice patrons to order more beer'."
- KC's View:
The Bloomberg story goes into a number of places around the country that are offering variations of the tavern-style pizza pie.
The point is this. Food stores ought to be paying attention to these trends, and finding ways to capitalize on them, creating interest and intrigue and energy among shoppers.
Done right, tavern pies would look great and smell great and taste great - and like in those taverns of old, would serve to bring customers in the door and keep them there.