Despite harbor view, Pizzeria Uno falls woefully short of numero uno


Well, there's that super harbor view. The decor is admittedly amusing, involving nostalgic glass block and black-and-white tile, a bar that mimics a Depression-era lunch counter, and a downscaled Statue of Liberty. The prices aren't bad. And you don't have to worry too much about your small children misbehaving, as there will probably be a few other obstreperous TTC youngsters about the place.

OK, that's four. Frankly, I can't think of any more reasons why people would want to spend their dining-out dollars at Pizzeria Uno.

This surprised me. Both my dining companion and my husband are former residents of Chicago (where the Pizzeria Uno chain was founded in 1943), and they swore to the legendary qualities of the deep-dish pizza that Uno more or less invented. And Pizzeria Uno has certainly been successful here; a nice view of the paddle-boats can't be the whole story. I give up.

With the exception of the "dumb monkey" ($2.85) -- a banana split served in a mug -- which was tasty kid-stuff, our dinner was pretty dismal. To call this food pedestrian is to insult pedestrians. Everything was grievously over-salted, too. The management might take a clue from the Golden Oldies decor and change the name to Pop's Sodium Shoppe.

Although it was distinguished by fresh-tasting chopped broccoli, my cream of broccoli soup ($1.95) was otherwise not much different from the kind you'd find at any cheap luncheonette, too salty and tasting more of evaporated milk than vegetables.

My companion started with the "muchos nachos" ($4.95), a pile of tortilla chips glued together with cheese, with chili, gooey tomato stuff and altogether too many black olives dumped on top. No salsa for spice, and certainly no jalapenos, just a stolid and unappetizing mixed Mexican mess.

The Mexican fiesta (or is that fiasco?) continued with chicken fajitas ($9.95). The chicken, sizzled with onions and peppers, was salty but actually pretty good. But shouldn't its accompanying "fixins" have included a little guacamole? Salsa? Something remotely south-of-the-borderish? What we got instead was sour cream and shredded bland orange cheese-food.

OK, well what about that famous deep-dish pizza? I sampled the pizza bianco ($5.25), which has sausage and fresh mushrooms under a thick layer of cheese. The (salty) sausage was billed as "lean," but leached grease into the crust. Yuck. Even though the individual pizza wasn't much bigger than a compact disc, it remained mostly uneaten.

Sorry, but I can't rate this pizzeria as numero uno. It's number two -- and every other pizzeria in town is tied for first.

Pizzeria Uno

Where: Pratt Street Pavilion, Harborplace

Hours: Open 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 am. Fridays and Saturdays

Credit Cards: AE, D, MC, V

Features: deep-dish pizza, light fare

Non-smoking section? Yes

Call: 625-5900

* 1/2

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