Donald Contursi wants to help people explore some of Chicago's deep dish pizza joints.
Contursi, founder and president of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours and Finger Licking Foodie Tours, recently started a self-guided tour in downtown Chicago during which participants take a walking tour of three different pizza restaurants to taste their deep dish renditions.
"Anytime someone visits Chicago, they (ask about and) want to try deep dish pizza," he said. When it comes to tourists looking for quintessential Chicago fare, he said deep dish pizza always comes to mind.
"But when you ask four people what their favorite deep dish pizza is (or where it's from), you'll get four different answers."
Contursi said the tour gives people the opportunity to taste a few pizzas. And ultimately, they decide which they like the best.
On the current tour, guests visit three restaurants. They taste test pizzas at Gino's East, Pizzeria Uno and Lou Malnati's. All restaurants are within a 10 minute walk from one another and the tour lasts 2 hours.
Contursi founded Lip Smacking Foodie Tours in Las Vegas in 2014 and Finger Licking Foodie Tours in 2019 in Las Vegas.
Finger Licking Foodie Tours offers people self-guided tour options. The company's recent Deep Dish Pizza Tour is the first one in Chicago and was started six months ago.
Contursi said he felt self-guided tours fit into the social distancing parameters which came about during the pandemic. Guests who take the self-guided tour can stay within their own party of people.
"And it's always nice to have your table reserved and waiting for you," he said, adding that people booked for the tours come into the designated restaurants at a certain time and their pizzas are immediately served to them.
"I wanted to do something in my home city," Contursi said about starting a food tour in Chicago.
He said food fans seem to love deep dish pizza. "They just don't know which restaurants to go to,' he said. Contursi feels he's helping people find the places notable for pizza. At each of the restaurants visited, guests will get the same pizza, which is a half cheese and half sausage pie allowing them to test them on an even platform. Rating the pizzas is not mandatory, of course, but Contursi said many people come away from the tours finding a favorite pizza.
"This tour is my first venture out of Vegas," Contursi said. He said as Chicago opens up more, he'd like to offer food tours in Chicago neighborhoods.
Contursi said he's found the food tours to also be good "team building" tools for employers. "We have people interested in them as team building client events," he said.
FYI: Tickets for the Self-Guided Deep Dish Pizza Tour are $65 per person. To learn more about the tours, visit fingerlickingfoodietours.com.