Best pizza Chicago: Masala Pizza, which operates out of Moti, fuses Indian food flavor with Chicago classic
Food & Recipes

Best pizza Chicago: Masala Pizza, which operates out of Moti, fuses Indian food flavor with Chicago classic

CHICAGO — Jay Patel said he started selling Indian-style pizzas to keep his restaurants afloat financially during the pandemic. Today, his concept, Masala Pizza Co., is available at six Illinois locations and one in New Jersey, with plans to expand into New York City.

“Nobody’s really doing it,” Patel said. “We see it as the way of the future for Indian food.”

Patel’s colorful pizza varieties include Butter Chicken, Paneer Tikka and Samosa Smash. Tikka masala serves as the base sauce for each pie, and customers can top them with spicy mayo, cilantro lime sauce and two kinds of chutney.

“It’s just an epic explosion in your mouth,” said Patel, who spent time in India as a child but grew up in the Chicagoland area. “The flavors that are layered on top of each other just hit you all at once, so it’s exactly what you need.”

Masala Pizza Co. operates as a ghost kitchen out of Moti, a fast-casual restaurant Patel launched in 2019. Named after his grandmother, Moti is described as a modern kitchen, serving Indian classics alongside American street food, fused with Indian flavor.

“What we’ve done is really taken items that are already out there, like tacos and pizza, and introduced that Indian flavor in an approachable way,” Patel said. “I’m tired of the same cheese pizza every day. So, changing it up has been good.”

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Patel said he left a six-figure job with the McDonald’s Corporation because he knew entrepreneurship was in his blood. He said his parents were supportive of his path that took him from a corporate office to mopping floors, even though they didn’t fully understand it.

“I wouldn’t be here without my parents,” Patel said. “They’ve always pushed me even when they didn’t believe in it at all times.”

Plans for a brick-and-mortar Masala Pizza are in the works, and Patel said that now is the time to scale out the concept and grow into a franchise.

“Stay Motivated,” a phrase emblazoned in neon lights at Moti’s Lincoln Park location, is a regular motto for his company.

“It’s all over the walls; it’s everywhere,” Pate saidl. “The moral of the story is don’t give up.”

For more information on Masala Pizza Co., visit masalapizzacompany.com.