We miss you already, Italian Fiesta Kitchen. Photograph by Chris Leaman
Manhattan-based celebrity chef Eric Ripert was in the house for last night’s inauguration press preview at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C., but it was Obama’s favorite pizza from Chicago that stole the show. In early October, the posh hotel asked Patti Harris-Tubbs, co-owner of Italian Fiesta Pizzeria—reportedly the president-elect’s pizza joint of choice—to bring her pies to the nation’s capital if Obama won. So on Wednesday, her husband and son packed a van with enough ingredients for 200 of the five-shop company’s thin-crust rounds and drove 13 hours to DC’s West End. Harris-Tubbs flew in, and the three spent the next 36 hours spinning 62½ pounds of dough.
After our first bite, we could see why Obama frequents the Hyde Park shop, located a few blocks from his house: A thin, greaseless crust, cooked to a perfect golden shade, is topped with a flavorful sauce and a layer of cheese that’s spread right up to the edge. So what makes the Italian Fiesta Pizzeria pies so delicious? Harris-Tubbs will say only that everything—even the sausage—is made in-house according to the same recipes her Sicilian grandparents used when they set up the first shop in 1951.
Although Harris-Tubbs says the Ritz asked her to bring more pies for the inauguration, she’s not sure that’ll happen: “You may never see this pizza in DC again.”