One of the things I miss most here in Portland was the Chicago food scene. While Portland has some great food, the pizza here is no match and I have some other favorites that I wish I could find.
Leona’s has always been one of my favorites even though they’ve become a little more corporate as they’ve expanded. There was a time when Leona’s had the best pizza in the city — its stuffed pizza was second to none. I suspect it was sacrificed to move the customers through more quickly. A popular dish with an hour-long cooking time can really slow things down.
While I understand the business logic behind the stuffed pizza assassination, I’ve always been puzzled by Leona’s decision to replace ordinary hot fudge with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce a few years back. I don’t understand businesses that buy into the idea of having a named brand on their menu for its own sake. I like Ghirardelli chocolate, but their sauce was a nasty substitute for the delicious hot fudge it replaced. I asked the wait staff about it; they also didn’t understand the change and confirmed that my reaction was pretty common.
Leona’s redeemed themselves shortly after the Ghirardelli incident by introducing the blue cheese steak fries. Wedge fries. Alfredo sauce. Blue cheese. Bacon. Awesome. Not health food.
Unfortunately, we decided that the blue cheese steak fries appetizer wasn’t going to travel well and an entire pizza was a bit awkward to bring back. I did get a couple orders of buffalo chicken strips and some blue cheese sauce. Extra buffalo sauce to be used in the reheating didn’t make it to Portland — the O’Hare TSA confiscated it, keeping America safe from that particular tub of spicy condiment.