Each month, everyone’s favorite spot for carbs-on-carbs (Ian’s Pizza, for the uninitiated) releases their “Mad Scientist” pizza. It’s a flavor dreamed up by Ian’s employees and/or the pizza-loving public, concocted in what I can only imagine is a dim-lit, fog-filled Franken-style laboratory. On the first Wednesday and Thursday of every month (or while ingredients last), Ian’s sells this specialty flavor by the slice to Milwaukee gluttons at both locations (2035 E North Ave. and 146 E. Juneau Ave.).
Clearly, Ian’s is no stranger to inventive pizza toppings. Not only do they readily sprinkle their pies with mac n’ cheese, but they actually hold an annual “Mac Madness” challenge each March pitting be-macaronied pies against one another in a bracket-style challenge.
Normally, Mad Scientist specials only last two days, but if they’re popular enough – like the fabled “Crab Rangoon” pizza – they might become a weekly or even a monthly special. Other previous Mad Scientist winners include “Kentucky’s Finest” (mac n’ cheese and fried chicken), “Breakfast Poutine” (tots and curds!) and “Chicken Noodle Soup” (I guess you drink it?).
What’s it like to work in the kitchen at Ian’s? Probably very similar to this conceptual performance art video by the Olsen Twins:
June’s Mad Scientist winner, on sale through Thursday, June 6, was dreamed up by Elizabeth Dziadulewicz, an employee at the North Ave. location. The recipe, in honor of the upcoming annual Polish Fest (June 14-16 at Henry W. Maier Festival Park) features full-sized pierogi atop a lightly mozzarella-covered pie, sprinkled generously with caramelized onions and (not so generously) with bacon bits. Replacing the usual red sauce is a light, tangy crema base.
The staff of Milwaukee Magazine decided to give the “Polish Moon” a try. Our reactions ranged from pleasant surprise to pleasant lack of surprise, but overall, we can dig it!
Here’s What We Thought of the Ian’s Pizza “Polish Moon” Special
“I’ve never met a dumpling I didn’t like. And the ones on this pizza – pillowy, with a rich potato filling – remind me of the ones I used to order from my favorite Polish restaurant in Chicago. So, yeah, I’m a fan.” – Lindsey Anderson, Culture Editor
“I loved the flavor of the dough. It reminded me of fresh bread or maybe a baked pretzel. Not a huge fan of the onions, but I’m not an onion person in general. I appreciated the little bacon crunch!” – Hannah Hoffmeister, intern
“Pierogi on a pizza??? Well, why not! The caramelized onions add an irresistible sweetness. I want this for breakfast. Delightful.” – Carole Nicksin, Editor in Chief
“By the looks of it, I was a little turned off, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would! I pulled the pierogi off and ate them separately, which I’m sure is not how they intended this to be eaten. The sauce was light and the bacon bits were a critical addition. Next time, hold the onions.” – Katie Williams, Circulation Manager
“I was an extremely picky eater when I was little. I loved pierogi, though: no sauce, no toppings, just pierogi. I always thought of it as a safe kind of food, what my mom would make for me. I never thought that when I finally revisited this childhood staple it would be on top of a pizza. I also never thought I’d enjoy that combo as much as I did; even my picky younger self would approve.” – Liz Johnson, intern
“I approached this slice as a skeptic [editor’s note: and a fun-hater]. I generally feel starch-on-starch pizzas like Ian’s mac ’n’ cheese pies are too much of a usually-good thing, but the pierogi pie delivered. The key is these pierogi are well-suited for the topping role, filled with fluffy, seasoned potato mash. The caramelized onions really deliver on the ‘caramel’ aspect, too. I’m a convert.” – Chris Drosner, Executive Editor
“I like the creaminess that the pierogi adds. The onions are sweet – maybe a bit too many but the crust is chewy. It’s not too heavy or carby at all. One complaint: very skimpy on bacon.” – Ann Christenson, Dining Critic
“When I first heard about Ian’s pierogi pizza, I had some doubts. The idea of it almost crossed the line from ‘eclectic’ to ‘unholy marriage’ for me. I was wrong. The onions and bacon complete the slice in a big way and the pierogi itself could probably hold its own at a ballpark stand.” – Matt Martinez, intern
“Two classic foods combined are almost never greater than their individual parts. *cough*loaded fries*cough* But it’s actually not bad. I wouldn’t want it all the time but I’d definitely order it now and then to combat the ennui of the ubiquitous mozzarella-and-tomato-sauce. OK, off to grab a salad.” – Paul John Higgins, Art Director