On its grand opening Saturday, Rance’s Chicago Pizza became the latest culinary addition to USC Village. By offering 50 percent off its personal pizzas, Rance’s drew in large crowds for their first samplings.
Rance’s ambience, though consistent, is unoriginal. Most of the restaurants in USC Village have a wooden theme, and Rance’s is probably the darkest of them all — when paired with the brick walls and silver accents of the floor and chairs, the overall ambience is on the darker side.
While customers waited for their pizzas during the grand opening, the wait staff was attentive, checking up on each table to bring water or drinks. Rance’s expected customers to have a 45-minute wait time, but as the day wore on, the wait stretched to an hour, even an hour and a half in some cases. Though this was expected given the nature of their freshly made pizzas and the sudden influx of orders, it likely won’t be an issue as the restaurant establishes it’s footing within University Park.
Appetizers include five types of salad ranging from $5-8, bruschetta, artichoke dip, garlic cheese sticks, meatballs and an appetizer pizza.
Rance’s offers three styles of pizza — pan pizza, stuffed and tavern. The pan pizza is the closest to the classic Chicago deep dish pizza, with their website boasting “buttery, flaky deliciousness with a bit of caramelized cheese around the edges.” Rather than a smooth tomato sauce, Rance’s opts for a chunkier sauce, reminiscent of another topping.
The stuffed style pizza uses the same chunky tomato sauce, but features an additional layer of dough on top to seal in all the ingredients. Similar to a flatbread, the tavern-style pizza is thin and square cut, with a smooth marinara sauce.
A 9-inch diameter personal pizza is $18.95, and it is big enough for two to share. Their largest pizza is 14 inches in diameter, and is $30.95. However, for patrons who want to build their own pizzas, the prices are a bit lower, ranging from $14-23.
Their deep dish crust used in the pan pizza is light and flaky, more of a pastry than a classic pizza crust. This can be a bit unwieldy, especially when the toppings are heavy and the crust is too weak to support it. The thick mozzarella also releases a lot of oil, so the crust has to work doubly hard when it is soaked and weakened.
Despite the shortcomings of the crust, the toppings Rance’s offers are a good mix of classic pizzas and entirely unique ones. From classic barbecue chicken to the more inventive Mediterranean-style pizza, Rance’s has an option for any mood or craving. One of the more unexpected combinations for a deep dish pizza is Rance’s Spicy Hawaiian pizza. It is a study in contrasts — loaded with pineapple and jalapeños, the slow moving spiciness of the jalapeños is mildly counteracted by the sweet pineapple.
Overall, USC Village’s new pizzeria is overpriced, but it does offer a fresh take on deep dish pizza with its original topping combinations and chunky tomato sauce. It’s worth it for a longer meal with someone with which you want to stop and chat.