Anthony Bourdain is known to be one of the harshest food critics,and to get a compliment from him, is something rare, as his line of criticism runs really deep. Tony is somewhat biased about  New York, and yes, not to forget pizzas. He openly admits that the pizzas should not be messed around with and there can be no comparison with the New York style pizza. That was so evident in so many of his episodes when he was reviewing pizzas. So when the hard core New Yorker recommended BURT'S PLACE, in the suburbs of the windy city, it had to be a jolly good pizza joint. 

Half way into the neighborhood in Morton Grove, and we thought we had almost lost our way. It seemed so quiet and dark, and to have such a famous Pizza joint tucked away here, would not be possible. But a lil more driving, and we saw the lights. The co travellers had trusted my judgement for taking them to an authentic Chicago style deep dish pizza joint. So the pressure was almost on me. The first look and the decor was eclectic, in the seemingly small place. Burt's wife Sharon greeted us at the door, and asked us for our reservations. In our excitement to savour the pizzas, we had no clue that we had to make reservations. She explained to us, that they had the risk of running out on dough, so they preferred that people called in before. We were also running out on time, as the restaurant was closing in an hour and half. That's when the entire entourage started coaxing her, how we had travelled all the way from Kansas City, and wanted to savour Burt's famous pizzas. How we had watched the No Reservations  episode, and planned all this. She understood we were a desperate lot, and asked us to order up first. 

The menu was fairly small, and so were the list of toppings. It all seemed very rustic, along with the eclectic decor and the dimmed lights. We decided on a large pizza with spinach, garlic, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and red onions. The others opted for a fuller topping list: mushrooms, banana peppers, sausage, spinach, garlic, pepperoni and what not. And rather than beer, we opted for their house wine, which was a full bodied Burgundy. 

Burt Katz and his wife may be hippies who have opened a pizza joint, but they know how to do it in style. Burt takes care of crafting the pizzas himself, while Sharon gives the term private dinning a whole new dimension. The pizzas took around 30 minutes to reach our tables, as Sharon had mentioned. But by that time, we had been feasting on succulent garlic bread, and the full bodied Burgundy. The pizzas arrived and the first bite sealed the deal for us. 

We knew every bit of praise that Anthony Bourdain  had piled on for Burt's cooking was so real. We had all had deep dish pizzas before, but this was different. The crust had a caramelization, which Sharon mentioned was Burt's signature style. This caramelization of the crust took the pizzas to a whole new level. Rather than the usual tomato sauce for the pizza base, Burt had his own signature sauce, which has a great body to it. The pizzas were not to heavy on the cheese, so one could order an extra helping of cheese, if they needed. For us, it was just perfect. All the pizzas that we had in our lives, seemed to fade away as we enjoyed Burt's creations one bite after another.  

The pizzeria was supposed to shut its doors at 10 pm, so we packed up whatever was left on our pizza pans,and requested Sharon if we could a photo session with Burt and herself. She heartily agreed.  The journalist in me could not resist herself any longer. After the photo session what started off with Burt and Sharon, was what we call in plain Bengali, adda(a soulful chit chat session).The couple had an enigmatic quality about them,and when they spoke, one usually listened, as if in a spell. From their travels in India, to their daughter in Kansas, from their hippie days, to their corporate days, they filled us on it all. A poignant mention which honestly drew a chord, was when Sharon said, that when they had spent their time in India, people were not fighting so much.Burt and Sharon, both in their seventies now, have owned and operated pizzerias since the 1960s. They bought Inferno, in Evanston,and revamped it. After running it for two years, they sold it off, for acquiring Gulliver's in Roger Park. Burt shifted his attention to Pequod's which he operated for more than a decade. And then came along Burt's Place in 1989. The restaurant is decorated with knick knacks which the Katz couple had collected over the years, during their travelling days. The couple do their grocery every morning before they open the doors, and they feel that they would not compromise on it for anything. Undoubtedly the King and Queen of Pizzas. Undoubted;y a must visit for all pizza lovers. 

Burt's Place

8541 North Ferris Avenue, Morton Grove, IL 60053; 847-965-7997
Pizza Style: Deep-dish

Living Life Queen Size

Living life, Queen Size, yes, I swear by it. For my close friends, I am Carrie Bradshaw, and our lives almost resemble episodes from Sex and the City.There are many who get scandalized about the way we look at life and all that it throws at us, but we never said we were easy gals to deal with. I am sure my childhood buddy Pranks would agree to that.

Now to think of it, how do I exactly manage to live life queen size?!After all its just one life, gotta live it just the way I want. And quite a few close friends of mine swear by the same mantra. Being High maintenance gals never hurt any of us. Maybe its the upbringing which has got something to do with it, or was it the books and magazines we soak ourselves into, we are clearly a breed apart. 

First things first, we are Emotionally High Maintenance. To decipher our minds and emotions, is even complicated than solving the Rubik's Cube. Mood swings, yes, its always up our alley. So our men need to be careful on what they even utter casually to us. Rihanna's Only Girl in the world echoes our mind to some extent.

my favorite hobby
Shopaholic: We confess, we are. Shopping is something which does not require an occasion, its a  way of life for us. Day offs or weekends in most cases, include more than just a passing glance at our favorite stores. We do experiment, but its usually our signature stores, which see us flocking over and over again. And indulgence is something we specialise in. We give diamonds a miss for our Chanels, golds become a No No, when its Gucci on the stands. We swear to match our belts with our shoes, and fashion faux pas is harakiri for us. Its quite a blessing that I managed a man, who is all about the same sentiments, when it comes to retail. Its after all a therapy, and don't all of us lead stressful lives already.

Hate Wannabes and Hypocrites: People making tall claims about buying 20 pairs of shoes, when all that they have picked up are a few flip flops are the kind of people we love to avoid. Men who wear the same jacket every time they are clicked, yet make tall claims on how much they spend. In simple words Wannabes and Hypcrites are our biggest turnoffs. So all those who desperately try to just fit into the league, yet have no clue about what our living is all about, send us running away. Beings superbly choosy about the kind of company we keep, is up our league always. Its not about being exclusive, its about having a signature way of living, where everyone does not simply fit in. And Hypocrisy is like lemon juice in a glass of milk for us. We are branded as being loud mouths, and we love it that way. Speaking up, is something we advocate, so all those slimy creatures, out there, just stay away from our tracks. The cats are out in action.

my man
Love men with a backbone: Be it boyfriends/husbands or just buddies to hand out with, we love our men to be men.A man who is a man in the truest sense, not only just one in a  bedroom. A man who adores honesty as much as we do. A man who is rational, a man who is sensible, a man who makes an effort to understand me, a man who has the guts to stand up for me, a man who is utterly adorable, a man with a backbone in place. Lucky I picked up the last of the few eligible bachelors off the dating scene.
               Sissys do not work for us at all. Men(read in their 30s) who call up their mom, that why their best friend is not talking to them, are the kinds whole become the butt of our jokes usually. Lets face it, we are more manly than them when it comes to  matters of life. So such men are on the list of No Nos for us always.

my gang
Lastly: Friends mean the world for us: We are branded as choosy, snobbish,snooty, stiff uppper lips, and hence we just have a small and exclusive coterie. And we simply can stand at the edge of a dagger for our friends. Friends are our lifeline. Be it in good times or teary eyed moments, its our friends who walk shoulder to shoulder with us..