Duneland Pizza in Chesterton recently won the Porter County Pizza Wars competition, with The Rolling Stonebaker pizza truck earning runner-up honors.
Duneland Pizza then went on to compete in the Northern Indiana Pizza Wars, earning a visit from Chicago-based travel guide author and journalist Kate Silver.
Here's what Silver wrote about Duneland Pizza:
This isn’t the first pizza war Duneland Pizza Owner Craig Berg has been a part of. When he was 24, he left his job as a manager at a pizzeria, interested in opening his own joint. “I felt like I could do a better job than them,” he says. It wasn’t long after he opened, he says, that someone—he’s not naming names—started cutting his phone line so he couldn’t take deliveries. (He says the rival spot went out of business within a year.)
Today, Duneland Pizza has been open for 43 years and employs Craig’s daughter and grandson. The restaurant feels a bit like an art gallery, with the owners’ stunning photos of the dunes lining the walls, and driftwood from area beaches serving as a reminder of time and place. While sharing his history, Berg serves up a number of different pizzas, showcasing the many different crusts he creates—hand-rolled, thin, whole wheat, cornmeal and deep dish. The variety is impressive, but two are standouts: the hand-rolled crust, with its light, pliant feel and punchy yeasty flavor and the characteristically crisp cracker-like thin crust. All are topped with a slightly sweet sauce and an array of fresh toppings.
While the pizza here is stellar, so is the character of the owner. Berg tells me a story that demonstrates the power of community, even among competitors: a few weeks ago, when the votes were rolling in for the county’s best, he and his long-time friend, Jim Chaddock, the co-owner of the Rolling Stonebaker (which was the other leading Pizza Wars contender in Porter County) decided to kick the competition up a notch. They set up shop in Duneland’s parking lot, offering free samples and encouraging people to make donations to Dunes Learning Center, a non-profit that immerses kids in nature in the area.
In just two hours they raised $1,300, using the power of Pizza Wars for the greater good.
Pizza has long brought families together. It’s heartening to see it do the same for a community—and that doesn’t just apply to Chesterton.
On my journey to each of the seven counties, I was impressed not just by the pizza prowess, but by the enthusiasm, pride and devotion that came from every single county. It was so thick you could practically taste it. And that, to me, is the true prize of the Pizza Wars.
Kate Silver is the author of 2015 Frommer's EasyGuide to Chicago. A freelance journalist, her work appears regularly in Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Midwest Living and other publications.