Week 11: Oregano’s

Oregano's Pan Pizza
Oregano's Pan Pizza

When it comes to deep dish pizza in Tucson, two places come to mind. The first, will remain nameless for another time, and the second is Oregano’s.

Now it is not often, if at all ever, that I crave a deep dish pizza. It’s never been my favorite style. I don’t believe in eating pizza with a knife and fork unless absolutely necessary. Deep dish is sloppy. There’s too much sauce. It takes a long time to cook. I could keep going, but I wont. Because in week 11, Oregano’s made me take a second look at deep dish, and really turned my apathy toward deep dish, into “yeah, I’d go for that more often.”

Oregano's North Tucson
Oregano’s North Tucson

I find several things charming about Oregano’s. I’ve always appreciated their stoner inspired advertising. They are also an Arizona chain of restaurants with 16 joints spread across the state, similar to Humble Pie. But Oregano’s has been in the game much longer, with a pizza history that dates back to the 1920’s in Chicago. Another charming attribute about Oregano’s is the interior. No modern exposed steel beams, atomic lighting or exotic wood tables here. Instead it sort of feels like you walked into your grandma’s basement. Random memorabilia on the walls and hanging from the ceiling, large tomato cans filling in the blank spots. The Lone Ranger was on loop in black and white in a retrofitted TV. It’s a place that feels worn in and comfortable, despite the location not being very old.

Oregano’s menu is robust, but not overwhelming. They’re doing things really straightforward here. Portions are huge and definitely meant to be shared family style. Food is always better with friends and family. Especially pizza. We started with the meatballs here, my go-to appetizer, and barometer of quality.

Oregano’s Meatballs

Pizza options include a Chicago cracker thin crust, pan pizza, and a stuffed pizza. Pan and stuffed are what you would traditionally consider deep dish. The stuffed sounded  very enticing. Similar to a deep dish pizza, but topped with a thin layer of crust and sauce. Not wanting to hide our tasty topping choices, we opted for the pan pizza, filled with Capicolla and roasted garlic.

Our pan pizza creation.

Crust: This crust was great. Perfectly cooked to a golden brown, with a nice crispness. Deep dish crusts do pull at my heart strings because their savory, firm flaky texture is so akin to a desert pie crust. Theirs is light and very enjoyable.

Toppings: All the pan and stuffed pizzas are choose your own adventure. You can “top” them with as many or as little as you like. Our capicolla and roasted garlic satisfied the meat craving, as well as rounding out the whole pie with a savory sweetness of slow roasted garlic. Overall, it was well balanced.

Sauce: Great sauce! In a deep dish pizza, there’s a lot of sauce (part of what really usually turns me off about them), but here it shines. Again, adding the roasted garlic as a topping, really added to sauce in this case.

Overall: Oregano’s turned my hatred of deep dish around, and I can’t wait to go back. Even more so, I’m inspired to visit Chicago, and get the real deal. But for anyone craving deep dish in Tucson, they have you covered. 🍕🍕🍕🍕 out of 5 slices.

They also serve up what is probably my all time favorite dessert of all time: The Pizzookie. They are the perfect size for sharing.

The perfect dessert – The Pizzookie

We visited the North Tucson location, but there is also a central location on Speedway Blvd.

North Tucson
100 W. Orange Grove Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85704

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