Pickle pizzas have been around for ages, but blew up when the internet discovered (and immediately hated) the dill-ridden slices, making pickle pies almost as divisive as the ongoing pineapple pizza debate. The now-infamous pies typically swap red sauce for a garlicky base, topping the crust off with pickles, cheese, and a dusting of dill.
Spak’s iteration, which first appeared as early as 2019, was dressed similarly. Their pies boasted a creamy ranch base, dill pickle slices, havarti cheese, and a heavy sprinkle of dill.
There were two things I knew going into my first-ever pickle pie. First, that I loved all things pickled and fermented. That part of the pie was not going to be a problem. Second, I never had a bad meal from Spak. In the past few years, I managed to hit a wide range of Spak’s menu, from their vegan seitan cheesesteak — hands down one of my favorite vegan sandwiches — to their heavily-topped specialty pies. Everything has always been fantastic. I was pretty confident that the pickle pie was going to be a winner.
I was right. Though before biting into my first slice, I was a bit concerned about the power of the pickles; walking from Spak’s takeout window to my car, I could smell the dill through the box. But the cheese and ranch kept the pickles mellow. The pie was reminiscent of grilled cheese stuffed with pickles, my midnight go-to meal.
Havarti cheese was the perfect match for the lush, creamy ranch, adding a subtle sharpness that kept the pie from being overly rich. The pickles started out a bit too soft from the oven, but as the pie cooled down, they regained their typical crunch. They had just enough briney, sour taste to make my mouth pucker, which was welcome after the layers of ranch and cheese.
I could go on for days about Spak’s ranch. I am a shameless dip-my-pizza-in-ranch person, and Spak crafts a ranch that surpasses most. It’s not too runny like a salad dressing. The ranch is a bit thicker and creamier, an ideal texture for crust dipping. There’s a great balance of herbs. It’s not too dill forward, which makes it an even better match for the pickle pie.
By a happy accident, Spak made me a pizza that was two sizes too big — I’m not complaining. And while I’m eating slice after slice of pickle pie for the next few days, I’ll be waiting for the next pickle-themed food to take off. Call me when they make pickle ice cream.
5107 Penn Ave., Garfield. spakbrothers.com