Observations on Food in the Bay Area
Patxi's Chicago Pizza
(last updated 8.16)
website - On Emerson between University and Lytton in Palo Alto. So, after reading Garth's review, and talking to everyone else who'd been there, I had to get off my bum and go eat some pizza! And thus, the review.
It truly is a Palo Alto-ified version of Zachary's Chicago Pizza. Between the old Left at Albuquerque location and the Gelato place, they've completely transformed the space. Stone tile floors, artsy lighting, lots of dark stained wood and a large, beautiful bar, giant mirrors on one wall reflecting photos of Chicago highrises on the opposite; all in all a very Palo Alto location.
In many ways, I agree with Garth that a more relaxed atmosphere might have been more fun, and certainly would have made it stand out from the rest of the yuppie Palo Alto eateries, but one goes there for the food, not the building, and it is nice after all.
First, they have a larger beer selection than Zach's, which is a plus, and having a bar at which to sit and drink while waiting for a table (assuming they become that busy at some point) is also a plus. In addition, they have a reasonably good selection of wines both by the glass and bottle, largely focusing on Italian varieties. Prices are reasonable, though not fantastic.
On to the Pie!
Everyone else who's commented has described the differences fairly accurately, but I'll renew them here, cuz well, that's my job as a reviewer.
Zachary's is often described as a "cheese pie" rather than a pizza, and the description applies to Patxi's pies nearly as accurately.
Their deep dish Chicago style pizza (the only one truly worth getting), which takes 30-40 minutes to cook, is a thick pile of pizza heaven. An initial, moderate-thickness layer of crust (which is not buttery like Zachary's, but more of a traditional 'pizza crust' flavor. I find this neither better nor worse, but merely different; I enjoy both.) is coated solidly with a thick mixed layer of cheese and toppings (and I mean THICK - see the photo on their website), then topped with a very, very thin additional layer of dough which melts into the top of the cheese, and finally topped off with a covering of tomato sauce. As has been noted before, Zachary's 'sauce' tends more towards large, thick chunks of tomato, and tends to be somewhat more watery, whereas Patxi's sauce is more 'saucy', without the thick chunky tomato hunks. This, in my opinion, is the only downside. I've always particulary enjoyed the hunks of tomato, and was mildly disappointed to note their absence. The sauce is less watery, however, which is a plus. The pie on the whole is perhaps fractionally less thick than Zach's, employing a bit less cheese. This neither adds nor detracts from the overall product - it's just as filling.
Finally, I'll note that our pie, a pepperoni/garlic/green pepper combo, exhibited the same pepperoni characteristics I recall from Zachary's - that their pepperoni is very, very salty. A matter of personal preference, but I prefer less salt, and will likely avoid the pepperoni in the future.
Overall, despite the minor differences noted above, it's just as pleasing to the palate as the Pie of the Gods from across the Bay. The service is very friendly and the atmosphere quite welcoming. I hope they can maintain it as they get busier. I'll definately be back. Again, and again, and again...
On a recent return visit, we selected their "Special", which is a sausage, mushroom, onion, green pepper combo. Not only was it quite possibly the most beautiful pizza I've ever seen (apparently the kitchen had declared it the Best of the Day), but it was shockingly good. Any doubts I'd had that perhaps Patxi's didn't live up to its relatives across the bay... gone. Long, long gone.