Some of Chicago’s greatest pizzerias will gather this summer for a pizza festival unlike any other in the nation. The second annual Pizza City Fest: Chicago, presented by Greco & Sons, will take place on the grounds of The Salt Shed, 1357 N. Elston Ave., 12 pm – 5 pm each day on August 26 and 27.
Curated by Steve Dolinsky, author of “Pizza City USA” and “The Ultimate Chicago Pizza Guide” as well as host and producer of the “Pizza City” podcast and Founder of Pizza City Tours, the event does what no other pizza festival in the city has ever done: ask all of the participating pizzerias to bake the pies fresh, to-order. Using electric ovens, scattered around the Fairgrounds at the Salt Shed – each one representing a different style – two pizza makers will be working on the same oven all day. For example, on August 26th, the “Deep-Dish” oven will have George’s from Edgewater, right next to Labriola. Meanwhile, on the “Roman” oven, Bonci will be set up next to Bar Cargo. Other ovens/styles include: Sicilian, Neapolitan, NYC Slice, Detroit, Tavern, Stuffed and Artisan, for a total of 20 pizzerias – all available to anyone with a general admission ticket. GA ticket holders will have access to 10 different slices, cut slightly smaller than normal, so they are able to try everything. GA access begins at 1 pm each day.
Meanwhile, VIP ticket holders will have one hour early access (starting at 12 pm) plus the ability to try up to 14 different slices, while being able to experience the festival in their own lounge, with extra seating and free artisan gelato, plus a swag bag with some pizza-themed goodies.
A completely different lineup of pizzerias is slated for Sunday, August 27th, which means there will be 40 pizzerias featured over the weekend. Tickets can be purchased for single day, two-day and VIP at pizzacityfest.com, where full lineups will also be listed.
Each day, Dolinsky has also curated a star-studded lineup of educational seminars inside the Shed. “The Dough Whisperers” panel on August 26th features Brian Spangler (Apizza Scholls, Portland, OR), Dan Richer (Razza Pizza Artigianale, Jersey City) and Rich Labriola (Labriola and Stan’s Donuts). The panel will be moderated by Francisco Migoya, the Chef and co-author of the 3-volume “Modernist Pizza.”
Other panels Saturday include “How to Make Pan Pizza at Home” and later in the day “Third Wave Deep-Dish & Deep Pan” with the owners of George’s Deep Dish, Uncle Jerry’s and Milly’s Pizza in the Pan, moderated by the Chicago Tribune’s Nick Kindelsperger.
The charitable partners this year include Slice Out Hunger, which supports local pizzerias by buying pizzas, then having them delivered to local pantries or shelters that are able to accept hot food deliveries. In 2022, PCF Chicago donated $5,000 to their Illinois efforts. This year, an additional charitable partner is Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (C-CAP), which funds scholarships for high school students to attend culinary programs.