924 Broad Ripple Aveneu, Indianapolis IN 46220; map); 317-257-4343; unionjackpub-broadripple.com
Pizza Style: deep dish
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny: Quite the opposite—a deep, deep pie brimming with oodles of cheese, a sweet sauce, and generous toppings. Needs to be ordered well-done, however
Price: 10-inch deep dish pie, $13.35 to $18.35; 14-inch deep dish, $17.75 to $26.75
The first time I tried Union Jack pizza it was under less-than-ideal circumstances. My girlfriend ordered me a pie, froze it overnight, and flew it back from Indianapolis to NYC. She was visiting her family in Indy, and, having grown up eating Union Jack pizza, she wanted me to try it. I didn't know what to expect when I saw the box for the first time. It had a shield with a Union Jack flag emblazoned on it, and I imagined some sort of ungodly concoction within like a bangers-and-mash pizza or perhaps a full English breakfast pizza.
The English are known for their pubs. Their pizza? Not so much. I was thus rather dubious that a place called the Union Jack Pub would turn out a pie worth eating, let alone taking up luggage space.
We let the pie defrost and heated it up in cast iron skillet in a hot oven. It was delicious.
I needn't have worried about the toppings. They were the standard peperoni, sausage, onion, and green peppers in a Chicago-style deep dish pie.
Despite having been frozen and subjected to coach from Indianapolis, it took me back to Chicago, where I had not eaten a pizza in years. The oozing cheese spiked with sweet tomato; the flaky, crumbly crust; and the generous chunks of meat and vegetables made for a deeply comforting experience.
I remember thinking I would love to eat a fresh version of the pie. I got my chance recently when I found myself in Indianapolis for a few days.
Union Jack is located in the Broad Ripple section of town and is probably one of the last places you would expect to serve pizza. But they take the pizza seriously enough that they have a separate menu for it—it is printed on a pizza peel.
While they serve an "authentic regular style" pizza, I was there for the deep dish pie. I ordered a pie with "three crowns"—sausage, peppers, and onions. While I generally go for plain cheese-and-tomato pizzas for the purposes of review, I feel deep dish pizza needs a little filling besides the oodles of cheese.
The menu warns that the pies take 40 minutes, and I should have been more alarmed than relieved when it showed up sooner than expected. It was underdone. While the cheese was melted through, the peppers still had a little too much snap and the crust didn't have the oily burnishing that can be so good.
The pie went back to the kitchen for more oven time. When it came back it was much improved, although it could probably have used just a bit more time to blister the top layer of cheese and darken the crust by a few shades.
But it was nevertheless satisfying in a glutenous, comforting sort of way. The mass of low-moisture mozzarella formed long strings that seemingly stretched forever when pulling a slice form the pan. The sweet sauce was punctuated by the saltiness from the sausage. The crust was firm and crunchy but softened on the inside by the cheese and sauce—a pleasing textural contrast.
If there was one thing the pie was missing, it was more caramelization on the cheese, crust, and toppings poking through the surface of the pizza. Next time I will be sure to ask for it well done.