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CHI

Review

Union Full Board

$$$$
Written by

Even though Chicago is a city with a strong pizza identity, we’re secure enough to appreciate styles from other cities (no matter how unreasonable their attitude about ours, see: New York). Just as long as they taste good. And the Detroit-style pies at Union Full Board in Wrigleyville are delicious.

Union actually has a couple other Detroit-style pizza spots around the city - there’s an outpost in the Revival Food Hall, and a small stand-alone restaurant in Evanston. This Wrigleyville version is in the boutique-y Wheelhouse Hotel, and is doing its part to make the neighborhood more than just a destination for Cubs fans and bad fake IDs. The space is small and decorated like a production team from HGTV got a hold of it, and it’s one of the few spots near the stadium where there’s a good chance no one will throw up on your shoes.

Sandy Noto

Unlike the other locations, Union Full Board has a number of non-pizza options on the menu (mainly Italian small plates and mains), and we’ll get to those in a minute. But first we want to talk about the pizza, because that’s really what you should be ordering when you’re here. It’s everything you want and expect from Detroit-style pizza - meaning rectangular-shaped, with sauce on top, and cooked in a pan that gives it a caramelized cheese edge. It’s basically a cross between Pequod’s and Lou Malnati’s, with a crispy and airy crust that perfectly balances out the rich tomato sauce. Plus, the whole thing manages not to seem too heavy. All in all, this pizza should be in your rotation no matter which state you were born in.

But that’s not the case with some of the other things on the menu. Like the burrata, which comes with overcooked squash and an overwhelming amount of fresh mint. Or the meatballs, which are dry and covered in an overly-sweet tomato jam. There’s also a Sicilian spicy Creole shrimp and grits, with overcooked, salty shrimp - we’re not sure that putting “Sicilian” in the name is enough to hide the fact that it doesn’t seem to belong on the menu here in the first place. But as long as you don’t get distracted by these menu red herrings and just focus on the excellent pizza, you’ll be OK.

Unless you keep up on regional pizza trends, Detroit-style pizza can feel like Chicago pizza’s half-sibling you just found out about after taking an at-home DNA test. But after you have a slice at Union, you’ll be really glad this kind of pizza exists. And unlike that long-lost family member, who has questionable politics and a disturbingly large reptile collection, this spot is a discovery you’ll be glad to make.

Food Rundown

Pepperoni Pizza

You come here for the pizza, period. It’s great, and you can’t go wrong with any of the options. But if you can’t decide, go with the pepperoni.

Spinach and Mushroom

Also a very good pizza. This one has garlic and ricotta, plus spinach that’s fresh and not wilted beyond recognition. It’s a salad pizza we can get behind.

Mac And Cheese

If you really want something extra to round out your pizza meal, go with the mac and cheese. It’s straightforward - creamy and cheddary, with toasted breadcrumbs on top.

Meatballs

We were rooting for the meatballs. Unfortunately they’re dry and dense, and come with a pile of too-sweet sweet tomato jam that just isn’t very good.

Burrata

Burrata is about the dullest thing you can order at a restaurant, but it will never be the worst. And while the burrata at Union isn’t terrible, texture-wise it’s closer to plain old fresh mozzarella. We’re also not fans of the over-cooked squash and pile of mint that comes with it.

Sicilian Spicy Creole Shrimp And Grits

When you see “Creole shrimp and grits” on the menu at spot that focuses primarily on Italian food, you think this is either one hell of a good dish, or they misspelled “polenta.” Neither is the case here. The shrimp are overcooked and too salty, and the grits are congealed and bland. The spicy sauce poured over the whole thing is also a salt bomb. Skip this.

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