LITTLE ITALY — After ditching respective careers in teaching and civil engineering, childhood friends Jaime Gamez and Jeronimo Gaytan had one mission: to make the perfect mac and cheese pizza slice.
Following the successful opening of Big G's Pizza by the Slice in Wrigleyville, the two owners debuted a second location on Taylor Street in August. Being close to the UIC campus and their core college crowd who are fans of their uniquely topped pizzas was a draw, said co-owner Gaytan.
But moving south to Little Italy meant that Gamez, 33, and Gaytan, 32, had to woo the traditionalists in the neighborhood. The "social butterflies" attended the same grade school in Highland Park and graduated from University of Wisconsin at Madison.
"At first it was sausage, pepperoni, cheese," Gamez said of the slices they were selling on Taylor Street. "Little by little, [neighbors] went outside of their comfort zone to try the gourmet slices."
What does a mac and cheese-topped slice of pizza entail? The carb-loaded slice starts with a signature crust, then is topped with a crème fraîche-based sauce, elbow macaroni noodles, Wisconsin cheddar, mozzarella and "a secret cheese."
"That, we can't share," Gaytan said.
The noodle and cheese topping might seem unfamiliar on pizza, but it works, Gamez said.
"Mac and cheese is such a comfort food for all ages," he said.
While mac and cheese is the store's hottest seller, Big G's offers up a wide and rotating selection of innovative slices. Slice selections include: steak nacho, chicken cordon bleu, lasagna marinara, Philly cheese steak and buffalo chicken & bleu cheese.
In October, their featured slice is butternut squash lasagna, which will serve up a taste of fall.
The slices at 1132 W. Taylor St. cost $2.75 to $3.75.
The menu also features salads and desserts. The decadent s'mores ravioli starts with chocolate and marshmallow wrapped in a cookie/graham cracker "ravioli," then topped with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar.
In addition to slices, Big G's also delivers 12-, 16- and 18-inch pizzas. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, they deliver until 3 a.m.
Eager to try their "secret cheese" mac and cheese recipe? Big G's Pizza by the Slice will be serving up mac and cheese at the Mac & Cheese Fest at the UIC Forum Oct. 4.
The Wrigleyville store opened in May 2012.
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