I think that I mentioned this somewhere else on the forum but I'll repeat it here since, well, it's on topic.
I spent a couple of childhood years in southern California...mid 1960s era...and that is where I got introduced to pizza. The chain restaurant that my parents took me to was a place called Shakey's
and it was, for a little kid, truly miraculous. First, when you walked in the door you were immediately hit with the smell of baking pizzas but then as you went in further you got to see the kitchen through a long window. The cooks were throwing the dough around, piling on the sauce and ingredients and working the ovens. The dining room had a sort of movie theater thing going on that ran continuous shorts of the Three Stooges, the Little Rascals and other films of that same era. And the pizza was terrific. Thin crust with a flavorful sauce and real mozzarella cheese that came off all stringy when you took a bite.
I carried those memories of that great pizza with me for years until I was in my thirties and had an opportunity to travel down the northwest coast from Washington into the upper reaches of California. I searched out and found one of the few remaining Shakey's and discovered that it was every bit as good as I remembered it to be...which was a pleasant surprise since time multiplied by childhood experience usually equates to unauthentic memories that are shattered by the adult experience.
In the early to mid 1970s I was a teenager in Houston and there I found a pizza restaurant that was close in taste to Shakey's. The place was called Panjo's
and I haven't seen one since those days. I was surprised that they are still around. I got a job there when I was fourteen, I think...first job. They fired me in less than a week because the manager was a douche and didn't know what to do with a kid who had never worked before (other than a paper route). And that's because I was willing to do whatever I was told (and did) but didn't know that I was supposed to be self motivated. I learned my first valuable work lesson there: If you lean, you clean. So, it wasn't without value. Still, good pizza.
I learned that the best pizza was always cooked in a real pizza oven and didn't think it could be done any other way until I saw one of those stupid conveyor belt ovens that are used by restaurants that can't find or train a real oven cook. Still the only way to cook pizza, in my opinion.
When I was in college I worked for a pizza place called Chanello's.
I started out delivering pizzas which was a great job for a college kid with a motorcycle. I had a rack on the back of my bike and I could strap the insulated delivery box to it. Having a bike was ideal for delivering to dorms...I could usually deliver two to three times as many pizzas as anyone with a car thanks to speed and ease of parking. I made a ton of money from tips and worked two to three nights a week to support myself. I also got to learn how to work the kitchen side when things were slow...learned the whole thing including food cost and overhead expenses. Great experience for later in life.
I went to NYC once and ate pizza at some dump in Greenwich Village. Totally different experience from everything I had grown up appreciating. Still, it was good...just different. The crust was extremely thin and not crispy at all. It was easier to roll a slice up and eat it like it was a wrap than to try and eat it like you would a normal pizza. Either that or go at it with a knife and fork. Hard to imagine how NY pizza is so radically different from anything else in the country.
Haven't had a Chicago pizza yet and given what I have come to know about the place over the last several years it is unlikely that I will ever find out.