One of the most personally enjoyable things to come out of the pandemic for me so far is to see all the nimble, singularly creative, and sometimes desperate projects I wrote about blossom into something bigger as the city reopens. Alexis Thomas and Eve Studnicka formalized their meal delivery partnership into Funeral Potatoes, Tony Quartaro’s Beverly-born fresh pasta startup is settling into a brick-and-mortar pastaficio; Vargo Brother Ferments is just a GoFundMe fraction away from moving into a commercial kitchen; and after John Avila transitioned his Minahasa pop-up into a permanent space at Revival Food Hall, he and his partner began scheming to open the first and only Indonesian grocery store in the midwest (more about that later this week.)
And remember Crust Fund Pizza?
Last fall food writer and Revolution Brewing hype man John Carruthers launched a charity pizza pop-up with which he auctioned off his homemade tavern-style pies on Instagram, the proceeds benefiting a slew of worthy causes including My Block, My Hood, My City, Injustice Watch, Community Kitchen, and the Reader.
The weekly auctions have endured, but since then Carruthers, along with designer Zach Sherwood, has been quietly tapping the city’s pizza brain trust, soliciting recipes, essays, and illustrations for Pizza for Everyone, a 204-page retro-style community cookbook that embraces the egalitarian pliability of pizza.
From Carruthers’s intro:
“Selling alley pizza taught me that the true magic of pizza is unbridled fun and excitement. If a wood-fired Margherita does it for you, awesome. If it’s a big ol’ slab of deep dish served in the most tourist-laden section of town, spectacular. If it’s fast food pizza where 90% of the action is automated, I’m still happy for you.
“But take this to heart: you folks play nice with each other. This book is Pizza for Everyone, and I really mean that. Finding and sharing the thing you love beats the hell out of dunking on someone for enjoying the thing you don’t.”
So while you’ll find plenty of pizza-adjacent recipes that might chafe the nether regions of the pizza police—like pizza puffs, mushroom de jonghe, Pat Bertoletti’s pizza walking taco, and the pizzafied version of my World Famous Deep Fried Stuffing Balls—there are plenty of legitimate pie styles represented therein.
Those include the tavern style pizza Carruthers slings out of his alley; fried pizza dough with lemon butter parmesan by Honey Butter Fried Chicken’s Josh Kulp; sfincione from Billy Federighi, Cecily Federighi, and Brad Shorten of Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream; the Detroit-style Carnivore from Derrick Tung of Paulie Gee’s; and a pizza marinara from Jonathan Goldsmith of Spacca Napoli.
Other contributors include Dennis Lee, Sarah Becan, Steve Dolinsky, Mike “Ramen Lord” Satinover, Kate Bernot, Chandra Ram, Ernest Wilkins, Nick Kindlesperger, and many more. And lest we become too fuzzy wuzzy with each other’s personal pizza preferences, there’s a jeremiad against deep dish by Peter Sagal, and an endorsement of it by Hot Doug Sohn. Each contribution is individually framed by Sherwood’s delightfully sly style.
Carruthers is taking orders right now. $35 benefits your choice of most of the same organizations Crust Fund Pizza has helped out over the months (including your own Chicago Reader).
Originally published in the Reader’s Food & Drink newsletter. Subscribe here.