I had recently started a new job a few weeks ago, and this past week a manager suggested an after hours “Happy Hour” to celebrate some visitors from another branch being in town. Being the low man on the totem pole and eager to learn more about my colleagues, I’d be foolish to refuse, so I happily accepted the offer. It was quarter to five, and everybody was closing up and ready to go, when the manager hollered to the office, “Meet at Uno!” I’ve never heard of this place. I heard groans of “Ugh, Uno suuuuucks!” from elsewhere in the room, but I have learned not to trust other people’s opinions; I would need to learn for myself.
The things I know of “Uno” are these: One, “uno” is Spanish for “one” (four years of public school Spanish classes left me confident in this translation). Two, Uno is the name of a beloved card game, in which players must learn to effectively grief those around them with Skip cards and Reverses in an effort to bankrupt their own supplies of cards. I didn’t see how any of these things could relate to a restaurant, unless perhaps they left out decks of Uno cards on your table to play with, similar to the tee game in Cracker Barrel restaurants. I guess I was the “ignaramoose” in this scenario though, as I stopped pondering these things as I pulled into the restaurant; an unassuming place with a large sign displaying “UNO CHICAGO GRILL”.
Originally called Pizzeria Uno, the first restaurant was founded in Chicago, Illinois. After opening a second “Pizzeria Due” one block over and an “upscaled Mexican restaurant”, the franchise spread out, enjoying success and growth primarily on the east coast and midwest. They claim to have created the deep dish pizza, but this is up for debate.
Being Italian, I love my breads (and pizza!), so I would relish the opportunity to enjoy Chicago deep dish pizza! Unfortunately none came, as our group was restricted to appetizers for this event. We dined on cheese sticks, chips and dip, and some bizarre concoction that could only be described as a mix between a baked potato and a small pizza. The food was adequate, but nothing special. I might consider coming back to try out a full entree, as the menu did have quite a few good options in addition to pizza.
As we were getting up to leave, the waitress came by with several small deep dish pizzas, saying the kitchen had messed up, and asked if we wanted those. I raised my hands to the heavens and thanked whatever deity might hear me! I sampled one of the mistakes, a deep dish sausage pizza, and made a face (not an attractive one, I would imagine). The sausages tasted pretty bad, and the deep dish bread was really more of a sponge for greases, turning my mouth into a melting pot of awkward tastes. The crust was actually quite good, as it had not absorbed much of the grease and was free from any offensive sausage.
All in all, Uno Chicago Grill was an enjoyable experience, but I attribute that mostly to the company, not the products. The appetizer (or “snacks”, as the menu called them) prices were reasonable, and the food was decent. I was a little disappointed by the pizza, as I had built up grander expectations in my mind, and was let down by reality. I might still come back, but if you are in the mood for good pizza, I might suggest you “Skip” Uno, and “Draw Two” more dinner alternatives to choose from!
FINAL RATING: 2 of 5 stars
+ Good prices, great service, kitchen apparently makes mistakes that they have to give away
– Tons of grease on everything, kitchen apparently makes mistakes that they have to give away