Origin: Around three years after opening his first Felix & Oscar’s in 1975, owner Mark Zingerman decided to add something new to his Chicago-style deep dish pizza menu. He traveled to Chicago and discovered the stuffed pizzas at Edwardo’s Natural Pizza and Giordano’s.
Their famous deep dish stuffed pies are loaded with toppings then sealed with an additional layer of dough on top. Zingerman had a lightbulb moment. Instead of adding the second sheet of crust, why not just deck the pie with extra cheese and leave off the top layer of dough?
Translation: More toppings, less crust. Thus, the Cheese Topper was born in 1978. Today, Zingerman says the pie accounts for 25 percent of Felix & Oscar’s pizza orders.
Stats: This thing has heft. A large cheese topper combo (laced with sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions and green peppers) weighs in at 7.5 pounds. That’s more than a tiny lap dog, folks.
We shared a small pizza (nine inches), which is covered in enough mozzarella, cheddar and Romano to make any cheese lover swoon — 16 to 18 ounces, to be exact.
Despite our best efforts to devour the entire thing, my dining partner and I were only able to eat half. Our pizza took 30 minutes to prepare since everything is made fresh and to order, Zingerman said.
Customers in a hurry can call ahead so the pie is piping hot and ready within a few minutes of arrival.
Taste: Unbelievable. The combination of flavors is what drives this home. The thick crust is crunchy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. The sauce is acidic, which contrasts nicely against the rich, gooey cheese.
We ordered one topping: Graziano’s Italian sausage. It was layered in patties, which is typical for Chicago-style pies. This was the first time in my life that I could barely taste the sausage on a pizza because the cheese was so creamy and flavorful.
Why you should try it: Order the Cheese Topper for a Des Moines take on a Chicago staple.
But don’t go it alone. You’ll want to share the experience with a friend — both because the pizza is so good and so filling.
Small cheese topper pizza with one topping: $13.50
Total with tip and tax: $17.31
Felix & Oscar’s
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-close Monday through Friday; 11 a.m.-close Saturday and Sunday
Find it: 4801 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 457-1000; 4050 Merle Hay Road, 278-8887