Sept. 20 2011 06:46 PM

Eggplant-parm pie is a pleasant surprise

Urbn's eggplant-parm pie
Photo by Marie Tran-McCaslin

Growing up, I didn't know much about good pizza. My favorite was a square pie from a chain that had a cartoon man in a toga as its logo. While I'd argue that I'm not grown up, I am a lot older and the cardboard-y pizza with the bland cheese is not going to cut it anymore.

Enter Urbn (3085 University Ave. in North Park, with its expansive space and delicious pies. There are a variety of specialty pizzas on the menu, along with a slew of options to build your own pie. You can enjoy a classier version of my childhood favorite, cheese pizza, with the Margherita, or you can choose from toppings like clams, sausage and fried eggplant.

Wait, what? Fried eggplant? As in, eggplant Parmesan?

I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised that the eggplant remained crisp and light despite being baked onto a pie. Covered with bits of fresh cheese and big basil leaves, the eggplant sits on a basic red pie with tomato sauce—just like traditional eggplant parm, but think of the pizza crust as a deliciously crisp and edible plate.

Since we had a colorful pie on one hand, we needed something to contrast it. Something deliciously monochromatic and starchy, like the mashed-potato pie. The thin New Haven-style crust holds up valiantly against a thick layer of mashed potatoes and bacon. It's one of those hearty dishes I want to have on a cool evening and wash it down with a New English brown ale from Urbn's craft-beer selection.

Along with the pizzas, we ordered the coal-fired chicken wings, which showed signs of being prepared in high heat, with crispy skin and insanely moist meat. The wings came piled high on a small cast-iron pan topped with a small upright sprig of rosemary—simple, stark and pretty, much like the refined-warehouse décor of Urbn.

If chicken wings aren't your thing, there are other dishes like figs and greens or cheese and salumi. The draft-beer list is accompanied by an extensive cocktail, bottled beer, wine and liquor list. In other words, there's no shortage of drink to wash down the good food and no shortage of starch and carbs to soak up the booze.

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