Uno Chicago Grill – Elm Grove

May 28, 2007

Short Take: A brand new menu, lots of options, and very tasty. A good choice for a chain.

Long Take: Higgins and Willamina both had a craving for pizza and decided to hit the local Uno’s. They hadn’t been there in years– in that time, Uno’s Pizza has changed its name to Uno Chicago Grill and has completely changed their menu– adding many non-pizza options.

We walked in at 2 pm on a Saturday and were seated immediately. The host led us to a table– we asked if we could have a booth. The host graciously led us to a booth–we asked if we could have a different one that wasn’t sandwhiched between two families with bouncing children. (Higgins and Willamina are childless by choice–mostly because not every child behaves like these kids do.) The host graciously, with a smirk, led us to a booth in the back corner next to some adults. (Yes, Higgins and Willamina are high mainteance. Why do you ask?)

Our server, Mark, started off seeming aloof and less than friendly. We assumed this was part of the “Chicago theme” of the establishment. After much menu reading– the menu is completely different from what we remember–we decided to share a Ranch Chicken salad and a Shroom! pizza.

Ranch Chicken Salad – We substituted regular ranch dressing for the BBQ ranch the salad normally comes with. The salad arrived with two warm, cheesy breadsticks and plates to share. It was a very good mixture of lettuce, egg, corn, bacon crumbles, tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, and crispy fried chicken strips. The chicken strips were very good. The salad was supposed to have tortilla strips on it, but they weren’t there and weren’t missed. The dressing came in a side bowl without our asking for it that way. The cheesy breadsticks were delicious. It was, more salad than Higgins and Willamina could finish– if we wanted any room at all for the pizza.

Shroom Deep Dish Pizza – When the pizza arrived, Higgins and Willamina were a little puzzled. The pizza was covered in small, whole button-cap mushrooms– not the expected slices. The puzzlement continued with the first bite– no pizza sauce. In looking at the menu after the fact, we realized the Shroom pizza does not list tomato sauce as an ingredient. (We made the mistake of assuming this was a default setting for pizza.) We asked our server about it and Mark explained it to us (still not too friendly, but attentive and informative.) He then brought us a dish of tomato sauce to dip the pizza in (which was unasked for and a nice touch.) Well, we were wrong. The pizza sauce didn’t work with the Shroom pizza. The mushrooms, cooked whole, are marinated in a white wine sauce. The white wine flavor is quite good and clashes with the tomato sauce. Willamina isn’t fond of whole mushrooms (a texture thing) but the taste was quite good. All in all, a unique, tasty pizza. And the crust, like all Uno Deep Dish pizzas, was delectable– a little greasy, but good.

The dessert menu looked quite yummy, but our heroes were stuffed after the salad and half of the regular pizza.

Oh, and Mark, our server, was much friendlier by the end of the experience. Apparently, he isn’t from Chicago– he is just slow to warm up to people. We tipped him well for his attentive, beyond-the-call service.

We’ll be back to try out other new menu items.