Owners of Burt's Place sought legendary founder's help on pizza recipes

Learning deep-dish pizza recipes from the side of a bed at Skokie Hospital wasn't something Jerry Petrow, a former futures trader, ever thought he would be doing. But it became necessary after he and partner John Munao bought legendary Morton Grove pizza joint Burt's Place from owner Burt Katz, who was dying of cancer in summer 2015.

“We weren't able to train at the restaurant,” Petrow says. “I just wanted to learn, and it's not something I take lightly.”

Katz - who also started pizza chain Pequods - founded Burt's Place in 1989 with his wife, Sharon. The restaurant has been featured on famed chef Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel show, No Reservations, and became renowned over the years for its pizza and eclectic vibe. Burt would open and close the restaurant - formerly a blacksmith shop built in the 1800s - at his leisure. Patrons say the place felt like it hadn't been dusted in decades.

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  Pizza ready to go into the oven at Burt's Place in Morton Grove. Joe Lewnard/

Subtle additions

Petro and Munao have spent months perfecting recipes and making subtle additions to the space.

“Everything's basically the same,” Petrow says, though Burt's will now offer crumbled sausage on its pizza in addition to the traditional “hockey puck” customers either love or hate. The wine list also has been expanded.

“Burt had two wines. Both of them came out of a box,” Petro says.

Burt's held a ribbon cutting before opening for the first time at 4:30 p.m. Friday. For more, see's Pizza/

<h3 class="leadin">Highest-paid county workers

Employees of Chicago-area counties top the chart for highest average salary among Illinois' 102 counties, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Using information from 2015 reports to the Illinois comptroller, the group found Cook County's average employee salary ranked No. 1 at $64,378. Lake County was second on the list with salaries averaging $61,472, followed by McHenry County at $58,151, DuPage County at $57,943 and Will County in the No. 5 spot at $51,827. Kane County was No. 8 on the list, with salaries averaging $50,219. The average for all counties was $34,167.

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10th Dems founder Nancie Blatt, right, with Lauren Beth Gash of Highland Park. Blatt died late last month. courtesy of Lauren Beth Gash

10th Dems founder dies

Former state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash of Highland Park passed along the sad news that Tenth Dems founder Nancie Blatt of Lincolnshire died Feb. 24. Based around the 10th Congressional District, the group began in Blatt's living room, Gash said, and grew to be one of the most politically active Democratic organizations in the suburbs.

“I've lost a great friend and someone I considered a family member with Nancie's passing. Tenth Dems has lost a foremother who helped build what we are today,” Gash said.

Blatt, who was 78, is survived by two daughters, Lauren and Stephanie, and a sister, Elizabeth.

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State Rep. Linda Chapa La Via

A Springfield curse?

State Rep. Linda Chapa La Via's loss last week in the three-way Democratic primary race for Aurora mayor reminds me of state Sen. Terry Link's 2013 loss in the Democratic primary for Waukegan mayor.

But proving there's no Springfield curse are former Republican state Sen. Chris Lauzen, who won the Kane County Board chairman's seat in 2012, and former Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks, who was elected McHenry County Board chairman in November.

<h3 class="leadin">Heads up

At 7 p.m. this Thursday, I'll be moderating a candidates forum for Elgin Area Unit District 46 at the district's administration building, 355 E. Chicago Street, Elgin. The free event is sponsored by the district's Citizens Advisory Council. Current board president Donna Smith of Hanover Park, board members Veronica Noland of Elgin and Cody Holt of Elgin, Citizens' Advisory Council chairwoman Melissa Owens of Bartlett and Enoch Essendrop of Elgin are competing for the three open seats.

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