The Justice Is Blind: Scalia Declares Chicago-Style Pizza To Be “Tomato Pie”

scalia184220px-GinoseastdeepdishThrough the years, I have put up with a lot from Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who I have always said has retained an admirable level of consistency and intellectual honesty in his views even though I often disagree with him. Nevertheless, I have criticized his conduct in public, including his enthusiastic embrace of being a conservative “celebrity justice” (here and here), shocking elitism in speaking with law students, and making public comments on issues before the Court (here and here). Yet, I have always tempered this criticism with a degree of respect for Scalia’s consistent adherence to a jurisprudential foundation that is missing with some of his other colleagues. However, he has finally gone too far. I am done. This week, Scalia did his usual ill-considered comments about issues before the Court but added in a speech in Chicago (my home town) at the Union club about Chicago-Style pizza. To the boos of the audience, Scalia declared that Chicago-Style pizza is not pizza but some form of “tomato pie.” It is not just injudicious but downright sacrilegious. In my view, Scalia has crossed the line into potentially impeachable conduct in his attack on this highest form of pizza and should be removed faster than one of those pathetic New York wafers that people fold and call pizza.

Making this all the more shocking is Scalia’s former work as a professor at the University of Chicago.

Scalia began with discussion of the role of God in government and by extension constitutional law — an issue that is before the Court this session. He insisted that “it is contrary to our founding principles to insist that government be hostile to religion. Or even to insist, as my court, alas, has done, that government cannot favor religion over non religion . . . It is a matter of believing, as our founders did, that belief in God is very conducive to a successful republic.”

After invoking God’s domain, however, Scalia then moved to the truly sacrilegious: seemingly embracing New York pizza while calling Chicago pizza “tomato pie.”

Now, I am Italian and a native Chicagoan and I am fully aware of the traditional thin crust pizza found in Italy. However, pizza is a category of food, not a single exclusive term for one style. Indeed, Scalia’s intolerance for different forms of pizza seems consistent with his views in other areas like privacy and marriage.

Consider the lunacy of this position. Gellato is a wonderful ice cream that truly surpasses all other forms but it is not the only ice cream. Ice cream is a category of frozen dessert usually made from dairy products. Likewise, pasta comes in a variety of forms. One would not call fried dough the only “true” pasta, even though it was referenced in this form in the First Century.

Pizza, my dear Scalia, is like marriage. It evolves and can take different shapes. Additionally, I would be the last to suggest anyone should “shut their pie hole” because I also believe that free speech takes on new and expanded meaning. Indeed, the disrespect shown pizza by Scalia reflects the same hostility shown to theories of evolution.

Chicago pizza is the highest form of evolution of pizza — a majestic combination of cheese, sauce, and dough that resulted from years of experimentation and consumer demand. Like the evolution of the horse from the tiny Eohippus in the early Eocene, pizza evolved with stronger crust and brilliant engineering advances. It is to New York pizza what the John Hancock is to a lean-to.

Scalia’s comments were not just injudicious but incomprehensible for anyone who has experiencing the exquisite experience of the Chicago-style pizza. As a food critic, Antonin Scalia is a wash out.

As many of us look at Scalia’s possible removal from the Court for demonstrated incapacity, Chicago needs to banish him from our shores. Call it our own high-fat Fatwa. Let him go watch his favorite football team (the Cowboys!) and eat his tomato wafers in that forsaken city known as the Big Apple. The city of Big Shoulders likes our pizza equally big and deep, thank you.

Source: Chicago Tribune

84 thoughts on “The Justice Is Blind: Scalia Declares Chicago-Style Pizza To Be “Tomato Pie””

  1. maplady, The girly mayor of NYC eats his pizza w/ a knife and fork. He should not be reelected merely for that offense.

  2. I agree with Scalia and Jon Stewart – nothing is better than NY thin crust, whole milk mozzarella, real olive oil pizza. Deep dish pizza is a casserole.
    Real pizza can be held in your hand ( no utensils needed) , folded in half and the final test is watching the oil drip from the point of the triangle. That’s a pizza!

  3. earsoftheworld, May I suggest a good steakhouse or a German or Polish restaurant. Greek Town has a few good places and Chinatown is pretty authentic. There is a lot of great food in Chicago. Pizza isn’t one of them. Maybe your best bet is to visit during Taste of Chicago around the July 4th Holiday. You can do your due diligence, having a slice of red cement Chicago pizza, and then taste some real food from the aforementioned variety.

    1. I don’t know how you could possibly mention ethnic food in Chicago and overlook Harold’s Fried Chicken. Be sure to have it delivered to your door. The delivery vehicles are, or at least used to be, part of the pleasure of eating Harold’s.

      Warning – some of you may need a permission note from your doctor certifying you are healthy enough. On the other hand, anyone strong enough to each deep dish pizza should be able to handle Harold’s just fine. BTW, be sure to get some gizzards and livers on the side.

  4. Well, it’s finally happened. I agree with Scalia. Granted, I’ve yet to visit Chicagoland and try true deep dish, but when I eat a pizza, I want two or three big, floppy pieces bursting with basil rounded out by a hot blast of oregano-slathered pepperoni, Parmesan and mozzarella, with a vine-ripened sauce heavy on the garlic on top of a coal-charred crust that’s just thick enough to let me absorb the olive-oil brushed flavor of the dough — maybe interrupted every once in a while with a melt-in-your mouth chunk of freshly roasted red pepper.
    Unless you make your own fennel sausage, then just dump a bunch of that on top of the pepperoni.
    I really do want to get over to Chi-town soon, maybe this summer, so we’ll see what I think after that.

  5. Nick: I was only there for two nights so I didn’t have much time. An interesting story on how I went there. I was in The Hague and had a few days to kill so I thought I would take a train down to Eindhoven and fly to Dublin. Flying Ryanair is dirt cheap so I went online and was just about done completing the booking when the computer crashed. When I finally got back online the flight was full and alternatives shot up in price. So, I looked around on the website to see what was cheap and available. Milan popped up and I thought: well, I haven’t been to Italy before, what the heck. So I went.

  6. Darren, We were just in Milan in December. It’s more famous for fashion, business, and art. But, we had great meals there. Our hotel had the best breakfast of ANYWHERE we stayed in Italy, and we’ve been from Milan to Sorrento.

  7. Bonnie, Lou Malnati’s in Chicago ships their pizza’s frozen. You can order online. There are probably others but I know Chicago style folks who love his cornmeal crust. To each their own! But, putting pizza aside, Malnati’s sends thousands of pizza’s to troops overseas every Holiday season. That wins my heart. They have thawing and baking instructions. I’ve heard they cook up well.

    1. ” Malnati’s sends thousands of pizza’s to troops overseas every Holiday season.”

      If the comparison is meals ready to eat warmed by body heat I am sure Chicago deep dish pizza is delicious.

      On the other hand, if they are sending thousands of deep dish pizzas outside the country during the high demand holiday season, doesn’t that suggest something about the demand, and hence the desirability, of deep dish pizza.

      I think you have, perhaps inadvertently, provided convincing evidence of what people really think of deep dish pizza.

  8. John, Forget about it. Glad you’re here and hope you stay around. There are mostly serious posts here. You’ll have plenty of ones on which to vent. How about a pizza comment? What kind do you like?

  9. Fat Tony’s Obiter dictum got booed at the Union League Club, people know a faker when they hear one.

    As mentioned above Lou Malnati’s is good for deep dish.

    Above and beyond deep dish, Edwardo’s, for a stuffed spinach soufflé, dis is a thing of beauty, (tob).

    For the very thinnest crust in town take a bite of Pat’s Pizza. Pat is Leona’s nephew. Her son is Leon, who runs Leona’s, are you wit me?

    Steer clear of Uno’s and Gino’s East, still wit me?

  10. In Naples, where “la vera pizza” (the true pizza) was born, neither a New York nor a Chicago-style pizza would be considered pizza, but instead a bastardization of the one and only real pizza, not so much because of the crust but because there is an excess of everything on top. Actually in Italy, pizza styles and crust thickness vary by region. In Naples, however, the crust is quite thin, one of the thinnest in Italy.
    Annieofwi, all those pizzas from Napoli were thin crust (I’m certain because I’m the one that ate them). Only the crust along the border appears thick because it is raised above the rest of the very thin-crusted pizza. The border is very light, airy and soft – typical trait of the Neapolitan pizza – from expanding in the 900+ degree, small-mouthed oven. Go, please go, to Napoli and eat pizza, many pizzas. Oh ya, and when you’re there, use a knife & fork. Once you’ve had a Neapolitan pizza, you will only laugh, as I am, at “best pizza” claims from anywhere else!

  11. Bonnie

    Unfortunately, I am not a fan of deep dish pizza so I haven’t really looked around Tacoma for it.

  12. I am with Nick on the real Italian food angle in Italy. I had the best when I was in Milan (but this was the only city so my sampling is low) Best dinners, best Gelato, best Cappucino. American Gelato shouldn’t even be called Gelato. It’s a different species, undeserving of the name.

  13. @ Ananymously Yours. You’re 100% right about Detroit pizza. Especially good when washed down with cold draft Molson Golden Ale. I’m salivating.

  14. I, too, am a native Chicagoan. The truth is, forget the quality. Quantity has always been my major concern. Let’s be real. Now, onto the meat of my post.

    “The whole trouble lies in the fact that people think that there are conditions excluding the necessity of love in their intercourse with man, but such conditions do not exist.

    Things may be treated without love; one may chop wood, make bricks, forge iron without love; but one can no more deal with people without love than one can handle bees without care.” (pt. ii, ch. xxv)

    Can a justice system live up to its name while ignoring this principle? But the criticism hits its mark. Underneath the key failings at each step that he portrays in Resurrection lies the same phenomenon: the willingness of participants in the criminal justice system to view the accused as a means to one of their personal goals.

    In the absence of love, or at least respect for the fundamental humanity of the subject, the prospect that the system will produce something approaching justice disintegrates.

    The failing of this justice system lies not only in its victimization of the accused, but also in that it is unworthy of its other participants–the judges, jurors, prosecutors and defense counsel who populate the court rooms, as well the guards and administrators who run the prisons, living themselves in conditions but a halfstep removed from their charges.

    Resurrection remains one of the most deeply felt and most persuasive critiques of modern liberal notions of criminal justice.” TOLSTOY

    Our judiciary is a joke, a bad, dirty, pornographic joke.

  15. I like a nice thick chewy crust. However, as a diabetic, I compromise with the thin crust. I have a friend who is allergic to wheat and gluten, and a local pizza place (until the management changed, anyway) would make her pizza soup- it was whatever pizza she wanted, just without a crust, and it used a deep dish.

  16. Nick Spinelli,

    Please accept my apologies. I was just practicing. Sometimes I feel like one of those compulsive revolutionary patriots. I’ll rein that in.

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