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People Are STILL Bitching About Chicago's "Pizza Fest" Last Weekend Saying It Was "A Disaster", "The Fyre Fest Of Pizza", And Demanding Their Money Back

Block Club - GOOSE ISLAND — It was supposed to be a Chicagoan’s dream: two days filled with 40 of the city’s best pizzerias all convening for a weekend of cheesy fun.

But long lines and logistical issues on the festival’s first day left many with a bad taste in their mouths.

Pizza City Fest, headed by NBC 5 reporter Steve Dolinsky — also known as “The Food Guy” and formerly “The Hungry Hound” — held its second annual event Saturday and Sunday at Salt Shed 1357 N. Elston Ave. Last year’s event was at the Union Plumbers Hall in West Loop.

While it was a venue upgrade from its inaugural edition, frustrated attendees said it wasn’t worth the dough. Many said they waited in line for hours both inside and outside the venue, and never got the promised amount of pizza or drinks they’d paid for.

Numerous people took to Instagram, Facebook and Reddit to blast the disorganization and demand refunds.

“It was a disaster,” said Dave Scheidt, a Logan Square neighbor who attended on Saturday. “We were waiting in line for like an hour in a single file line, then out of nowhere it splits into, like, four lines. So just getting in the door was a struggle [because] no one really knew what to do.”

What the fuck is everybody so uptight for when it comes to pizza lately?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about Dave's confrontation with that looney tune from Somerville's Dragon Pizza. An incident so Somerville (aka Cambridge for people who can't afford it) it hurts. 

Dave has cracked his knuckles and dived back into the blog game documenting the hell out of the entire thing.

This all went down simultaneously with an event in Chicago that pissed off ticket buyers are calling, "The Fyre Fest of Pizza". 

First off, and this is kind of a side bar, can we chill with calling everything that turns into a shit show "The Fyre Fest of…." please?

It's lazy. 

It's disrespectful to just how big of a clusterfuck the actual Fyre Fest was, and it's disrespectful to this guy.

Giphy Images.

I've read lots of reports on this Chicago Pizza Fest and from everything I read, there were no people involved ready to guzzle dick in exchange for large amounts of bottled water.

But anyway, many people are calling the Pizza Fest in Chicago last weekend a disaster. I am not one of them. 

No, I wasn't there, but I can tell you if you buy tickets to something called "Pizza Fest", then whine about not getting enough pizza, you went in with unrealistic expectations and were doomed to be disappointed no matter what. 

What did these idiots think they were going to? All you can eat pizza on Tuesdays at Papa Gino's? (Real ones remember these. How Papa's never went out of business off these Tuesdays was a miracle and accounting magic if I've ever seen it. Our parents would drop us off for 3 hours and leave us there to inhale like 6 pizzas with our friends. And they were slammed, every location, every Tuesday night.)

Because that's definitely not what this was. 

Your first inclination should have been the loose-promise that each attendee would receive ten pieces each. 

Have you ever been to Chicago? Or the Midwest in general?

10 pieces of pizza to the land whales here is considered an appetizer. 

You know the minute you read that, that it would be a gutter war against these people, fighting for every piece of food they could get their sausage link fingers on. 

And look at this set up.

Walking into Salt Shed (a venue I am fucking obsessed with by the way) and seeing those food tents situated that close to each other was red flag #2. 

Anybody who's ever played the children's game Battleship in their lifetime can tell you you need to space your targets out. You pack all of your aircraft carriers, battle ships, and patrol boats all tight together and you're going down quicker than a kamikaze. 

Eater - It’s become the talk of Chicago and beyond: For the second year in a row, attendees are calling Pizza City Fest a disaster. Some even likened the pizza festival, curated by longtime Chicago TV personality Steve Dolinsky, to the debacle that was the Fyre Festival.

Hyperbole aside, the trouble began brewing before the first attendees on Saturday even set foot inside the Salt Shed as an electrical mishap sapped the power to the ovens, taking out 12 vendors. The power outage lasted until around 1 p.m., but beyond electricity, the attendees were waiting 30 minutes to an hour to pass through the gates. They were rewarded with more lines — up to an hour for the most popular pizzas — once they got inside. But it wasn’t a complete pizza desert. Forno Rosso brought its own mobile wood-burning oven and didn’t need electricity. They were sold out by 2 p.m.: “We were able to sit there and crank out pies,” owner Nick Nitti says. “We were in a fortunate situation.”

But given the long waits for the first half of Saturday, Nitti’s Neapolitan pies weren’t enough to sate angry pizza lovers wanting to sample deep dish, tavern, and other pies from more than 20 pizzerias. Attendees fumed, feeling like test subjects who paid $95 for general admission for 10 slices or $200 for VIP access and 14 slices: “This was a complete scam and awfully planned event,” one wrote on Instagram.

On the same thread, another wrote: “Lol, if you are going to charge bonkers prices you better be able to deliver.” Others accused the organizers of deleting comments. Over on Reddit, a user wrote: “Why does this sound like Fyre Festival pizza edition.”

An attendee told Eater that Saturday was the worst food fest he attended and that he left early: “And that was with VIP. GA would have been horrendous.”

This is the guy who ran the event - 

Dolinsky, whose portrait adorns restaurant walls across Chicago, first as ABC Chicago’s Hungry Hound, and in his current identity as NBC Chicago’s Food Guy, worked with Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism board, to pay for flights and lodging for influencers from Nashville and Canada to Pizza City Fest in order to generate interest outside of Chicago. He also brought the festival to L.A. Live in Los Angeles in April and is looking to expand to other cities like New York. (George’s Deep Dish’s Bumbaris attended the LA event to check out the event. He says the larger footprint there helped the event go smoothly.)

Which is all to say, that Dolinsky wields influence. On Sunday, Chicago food writer and critic Michael Nagrant wrote up a summary of Saturday’s events. He’s criticized Dolinsky for what he perceives as “pay to play” — with restaurants offering free meals or exclusive coverage in exchange for positive coverage.

The story brought the festival into the national spotlight, and its Instagram post prompted comments from celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern and likes by New Yorker writer Helen Rosner, a Chicago-area native; Chicago chef and Top Chef champion Joe Flamm of BLVD Steakhouse and Rose Mary.

Dolinsky sent out a media statement on Tuesday night and apologized to guests, pinning the problem on a generator that impacted six ovens: “We are doing everything in our power to make things right with affected guests and we are already focused and working on improving all processes moving forward,” part of the statement reads.

A lot of people, like really reputable and respectable people in the food industry, are seeing this as an opportunity to pile on Dolinsky and sewer him for this disaster. It honestly seems like people with axes to grind finally having a reason to call him out publicly. He's had food critic pieces on the local news in Chicago for longer than I've lived here and Ashok the Eater journalist is right, you can't walk into an old restaurant in Chicago without seeing his signed headshot on the wall somewhere. 

That said, I've met Dolinsky a few times, and he's come off as one of those "do you know who I am" guys. I don't really give a shit about that because it's par for the course in local media and the food critic scene, but if he ever ripped one of my restaurants I'm sure I'd have my ax sharpened and ready to go too.

My issue with the guy is he's in La La Land when it comes to Chicago's pizza.

He boasts routinely how well traveled he is, and how he's had the best pizza in all the best cities all around the world and he genuinely believes Chicago is the best pizza city in the world.

Bonkers. Looney tunes shit.

He even put his money where his mouth is with not only launching this fest. But also penning a book and running a regular tour in the city called "Pizza City USA"

Don't even get me started on the fact his highest ranking pizza's are Neapolitan, Detroit, and pretty much every other version of style besides actual Chicago-style but whatever. 

And speaking of real Chicago style pizza, I wrote this on this very blog a few years back and feel it's appropriate to dial back up here -

This guy got lit up.

And I'm not saying it's not for good reason.

That's not pizza of any kind period. What you got was focaccia my man. 

But, for a city that pride's itself on how good its pizza is (it's not), have you ever seen a collective of people so sensitive?

If your pizza is good enough to stand on its own, i.e. - NY, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, basically the entire northeast, you don't really feel the need to defend it and fight about it anytime somebody brings up the topic. 

When Chicago people talk up to east-coasters about how thin crust pizza sucks, because their interpretation of it is a thin crust from Pizano's (yes that's really how the spell the word), you just roll your eyes and laugh. 

But Chicago people will fistfight you over what "real" Chicago style is, who has the best version of it, and why it's better than anywhere else in the country. Even though they've never been anywhere else in the country… 

When I get crucified for writing this you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

But what do I know? I'm just an Italian kid from out east and grew up visiting family and friends in Italy my whole life. i"m no Jewish media mogul.

Here's hoping they either throw in the towel on trying to make this a thing, or they bring in a real event productions company who knows how to successfully execute large scale events like this so we don't have any adult babies crying next year. 

One thing I know won't be a disaster is our very own One-Bite Pizza Fest coming up in New York on September 23rd.

This thing is the real fucking deal. With some major heavy hitters on board. 

Personally, the fact Dave convinced Di Fara (my favorite pizza in all of NY), Lucali (my #2), John's (#3), and Frank Pepe's and Sally's (my favorites in all of America) all to trudge down to Coney Island for this thing speaks to just how powerful Dave is in the pizza world and how much the best of the best respect and love him. Pretty impressive.

You've also got staple's who have perfected the art of taking their product on the road and still delivering exquisite pizza like Prince St. there. 

You've got Colony Grill there which if you haven't had the chance to try you gotta because it's one of the more unique styles I've had in a while, and after being turned on to it, and it's self proclaimed "Irish Style" by Large, I'm a huge fan. 

Get your tickets now and don't miss out. This fest is going to kick ass and you're guaranteed there will be zero issues because if there's one thing you can bet on with Barstool, it's that when we throw events we throw them flawlessly.