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Deep dish pizza a little more indulgent with the addition of white béchamel sauce

Three Chicago area restaurants introduce a variation on the thick, cheesy local classic.

Béchamel sauce replaces the tomato sauce in the White Deep Dish Pizza offered by three area restaurants.
Kim Kovacik.

That annual New Year’s resolution to drop 10 pounds always gets tough in Chicago when the cold, cloudy days of February hit. With National Pizza Day on Sunday, La Barra (Riverside and Oak Brook) and Labriola (Chicago) are making that narrower waist even more of a longshot with the introduction of their White Deep Dish Pizza.

Some may think that a classic Chicago deep dish pizza with a slab of sausage and extra pepperoni is as decadent as it comes. They would be wrong.

Rich Labriola, owner/operator/chief pizza maker of the restaurants, says that he has floated the white deep dish pizza idea around “longer than I’d like to admit, but every time I’ve floated it, it’s the middle of summer. It’s not the right time.” But for February, Labriola thinks, “This time we got it right.”

It all starts with the dough, “similar to focaccia dough — it’s rich in oils,” says Labriola.

Sliced, whole milk mozzarella sits on top of the dough but also reaches up to the edge to make a caramelized crust. The “white” comes from ditching a normal tomato sauce for a rich, velvety white béchamel sauce, made with butter and heavy cream.

Piles of chopped grilled chicken and caramelized onions are added. And applewood-smoked bacon. (Obviously bacon). A hint of crushed red pepper provides a little spice. This luscious combination bakes inside a stone deck oven for 30-35 minutes.

Labriola insists, “It’s not as overwhelming as you’d think.” However, to be clear, this unique, rich, creamy concoction isn’t exactly diet food either.

Bob Tucker is a local freelance writer