Chicago — A vibrant rainbow of fresh vegetables makes Milly’s Pizza In The Pan easy to recognize. That’s by design, according to owner and sole pizza maker, Robert Maleski.
“I like to use only colored ingredients to make pizza,” Maleski said. “I let the pizza bake for about five minutes before I took it out, then put it on top and then put it back in the oven that way the vegetables and toppings are more vibrant.”
Maleski, who goes by his grandmother’s name, launched Milly in 2020 after 16 years working as a butler in Chicago-area restaurants. Pandemic lockdowns have prompted him to seize the moment for something he had always dreamed of doing.
“Maybe this is my chance to start a pizzeria,” Maleski said.
Maleski has earned the right to work on perfecting his pie; Chicago-style pizza with a caramelized cheese crust, reminiscent of Burt’s legendary place in Morton Grove, Illinois.
“I choose a nice golden brown,” Maleski said. “I think the darker the bottom, the more flavor. It’s like toast.”
Landing a delightful, eye-pleasing iteration, Maleski began seeking funding for a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to get the tens of thousands I needed to start Millie’s project.
“I found it almost impossible to get a loan, so I started looking for other ways and crossed the path of the ghost kitchen,” Maleski said.
Over the next year and a half, Milly’s Pizza In The Pan wowed critics and fans alike, landing on lists of Chicago’s best deep-dish pizza. Maleski said that personal messages from netizens are most relevant to him.
“I really like interacting when I’m talking to someone,” Maleski says. “It’s really humble, like ‘Wow.’ Something I’ve made is one of the best things they’ve ever eaten.”
Maleski ended up renting a space in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, which is uniquely located among the many Asian restaurants on Argyle Street. The restaurant is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and Maleski alone produces each pie.
“Usually before I even open their doors, they run out of pizza,” Maleski said.
In 2021, Milly’s Pizza In The Pan was awarded Best Pandemic Pivot by the Chicago Tribune. Maleski is surprised by the pleasant reactions he has received in such a short time.
“To open it up and be successful in it is very humbling,” Maliski said. “It blows me away like every day.”
For more information on Milly’s Pizza In The Pan, visit: Visit https://www.millyspizzachi.com/