Dining out: Sweet Home Chicago Pizzeria

Published: Friday, Sept. 9 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

It's impossible to visit Sweet Home Chicago Pizzeria and not hear the Blues Brothers' rendition of that classic tune in your mind.
At least, as a fan of both the movie and its soundtrack, I found it impossible, especially as there's a big poster from the movie near the counter at this fun South Valley eatery. And at least in this case, the song fits the situation: After a meal there, most people will be singing, "C'mon, baby, don't you want to go? Back to that same old place, Sweet Home Chicago!"
This is a place with much more than pizza. Owners Jim and Joe Pecora have imported a little slice of the Windy City to Utah. In addition to posters of "Da Bears" and other Chicago mainstays, that includes a certain Midwestern orneriness: The back of the menu states firmly that, despite the stereotype, "true" Chicago-style pizza is thin-crusted and cut into squares — not the squishy deep-dish variety.
Whatever its origins, this is some excellent pizza. We took advantage of Sweet Home Chicago's Tuesday special, in which diners can get two pizzas for the price of one from 5-9 p.m. That meant the kids could share a 10-inch pepperoni, while my husband indulged his love of meat with sausage, pepperoni and Canadian bacon.
Both were very good, but the meaty pie, piled with ingredients including made-on-the-premises sausage, was delightful. The sausage is darkly delicious and not at all greasy; in fact, the whole pizza was moist, gooey and juicy without ever tasting oily. The crust is firm and chewy, a great platter for the excellent-quality toppings. I'd have liked a few veggies (many are offered), but hey, it wasn't my pizza.
By the way, if you insist on a deep-dish pizza, Sweet Home Chicago will accommodate you with their "stuffed pizza," two layers of dough sandwiching toppings and cheese, with sauce on top.
I had the Italian meatball sandwich, a superior example of its kind with two enormous, strongly spiced meatballs enfolded in firm-crusted bread with thick and tangy tomato sauce and tons of grated mozzarella. Sweet Home Chicago obviously pays loving attention to the seasoning of its meat offerings, and that showed here. With it, I had a side salad, a mix of fresh iceberg and leaf lettuce with a strong, slightly sweet Italian dressing on the side.
The medium-size dining room is clean and pleasant, but if you can, eat on the back patio, a beautiful hillside perch from which we watched the sun go down.
The rest of the menu is pleasantly intriguing for those of us not from Illinois, featuring things like "Chicago beef" and Italian sausage sandwiches — or a sandwich that's a combination of the two and, the menu promises, "a favorite of true Chicagoans."
I also was glad to see cannoli for dessert (though they'd run out the night we visited, so I'll have to try it next time) and real Chicago-style "red hots," hot dogs topped with bright-green relish, chopped white onions, peppers, mustard and a pickle spear. You don't have to have it that way (they won't insult you for asking for ketchup, though such things aren't done in Chicago), but if you try it, I bet you'll like it.
Actually, that pretty much sums up the Sweet Home Chicago experience.
Appetizers $1.39-$4.99, sandwiches $2.49-$6.49, salad $5.58, lunch buffet (Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.) $6, pizza $6.99-$15.99, hot wings $5.59-$9.99, dessert $2.49.

Rating: ***
Where: 1442 E. Draper Parkway (12300 South), Draper
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Saturday, noon-10 p.m.
Sunday, 4-9 p.m.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Phone: 545-0455
Web: www.shcpizza.com

Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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