Derrick Tung's 4 Simple Rules for Ordering Pizza

When the Chicago news media wants to learn about pizza, Derrick Tung, owner of Paulie Gee’s Logan Square, has become their go-to man. That’s why’s Gwen Ihnat asked to meet with Tung to get tips on ordering the perfect pizza.

Ihnat and Tung sat down at a Blaze Pizza location to order pies and talk toppings. Ihnat’s main concern: “What’s the best pizza practice for customizing a pie that’s not just an overload. What are the issues of flavor and balance we must consider?”

Tung, who last June won the Gluten-Free Category of the U.S. Pizza Cup and a spot on the U.S. Pizza Team, answered with four rules for ordering pizza.

1. Stick with two or three toppings. Too many toppings make the pizza “so heavy, with so many ingredients, that it just falls apart,” Tung said. Additionally, the surplus of flavors and textures ultimately creates a muddled effect.

2. Think fat, acid and texture. Tomato sauce usually provides the acid. Balance that out with a fat, such as a creamy white sauce, or meat, such as bacon or sausage, plus a veggie with some crunch, like bell peppers and onions.

3. Pair sweet and savory flavors. Inspired by the classic Hawaiian, Tung created his own variation featuring pickled pineapple and prosciutto. At Blaze, he enjoyed a pie made with arugula, cherry tomatoes, basil, red peppers and a balsamic glaze. He noted the “butteriness from the greens, sweetness from the balsamic to balance it, some texture and sweetness from the tomatoes, and all of that is cutting in to the fat of the sauce.”

4. Go for a splash of color. Restaurant owners have to take aesthetics into consideration. “If it’s your family and they don’t care what it looks like and they’re going to eat it anyway, then it doesn’t matter too much,” Tung told The Takeout. “But for us, if there’s a sea of red, we need to change it up. How do we make it more palatable from the visual perspective?”