A's List: Fancy Chicago Pizza Parlors for Date Night
By Audarshia Townsend
There’s no doubt “Chicago’s Best Pizza” discussions are as polarizing as politics. People can literally argue about it for hours, which is why I’m smart enough to stick to only one piece of the pie.
When it comes to a night out on the town with a significant other, it’s no secret that pizza is always a great choice, whether it’s your first date or 50th. First, pizza parlors showcase the original share-able entrée. Second, they offer an affordable meal that doesn’t make you look like a cheapskate. And, you can settle in comfortably; no worries about fine-dining formalities when checking out a pizza joint. But where you go on date night also matters.
We’re lucky enough to live in a city boasting literally hundreds of pizza-focused restaurants. From beloved institutions like Home Run Inn and Lou Malnati’s to trendy newcomers such as Parlor, pizza is clearly an obsession in the Windy City. Yet, the following establishments match their pies of perfection with settings designed to set the mood for couples.
Forno Rosso Pizzeria Napoletana (West Loop)
Why couples should love it. Weekends are especially bustling at this parlor serving authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas, so it’s great for people watching. Guests may settle in at the bar, two-tops, banquettes or tavern tables. Everything is share-able and in large portions here, from appetizers (meatballs, focaccia) and salads to pizzas.
What to order. Pizza in Napoli is soft and foldable and may be considered "wet" by American standards. For this reason, people in Napoli generally eat their pizza with a knife and fork. Signature pies range from the Caputo Cup, an award-winning pizza that's Forno Rosso's take on a Margherita, to Rosso Diavolo (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, hot soppressata, crushed red pepper).
Nearby attractions. City Winery, a live-music venue featuring popular national acts, is a block away, plus several cocktail lounges and bars in the West Loop.
Munno Pizzeria & Bistro (Uptown)
Why couples should love it. More Neapolitan-style pizzas with a charred, crisp crust are the draw to this venue doubling as a coffee bar. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow guests to catch action on busy Clark Street, and there’s occasional live cabaret. Low lighting offers a romantic vibe.
What to order. Munno’s funghi pizza (sauteed mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano Reggiano) is topped with truffle oil, while spicy honey atop Diavola Sbagliata (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano Reggiano, Italian salame) should satisfy even the most discerning pizza enthusiast.
Nearby attractions. It’s directly across the street from rowdy country-western fave Carol's Pub.
Paulie Gee’s (Logan Square)
Why couples should love it. Paulie Gee’s more than 30 choices are offbeat with unique and fun ingredients. There is also a "secret" menu with even more pizza options as well as ample vegan selections. While you wait for your pizza, visit the U.S. Pizza Museum, which includes a 1969 Pizza Hut “Pete” coin bank and a Milton Bradley pizza-themed board game from 1974. It’s a great conversation starter.
What to order. The restaurant specializes in Chicago-, Detroit- and New York-style pizzas made in a Neapolitan-style oven. Meat lovers should dig Big Bad Wolf (Italian tomatoes, Berkshire soppressata picante, sweet Italian fennel, house-made bacon jam, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano Reggiano), and those going vegan get tasty choices like Red, White & Greenpeace (baby arugula, olive oil, post-oven house pickled red onions).
Nearby attractions. Deejays spin eclectic music, from Ethiopian house to Brazilian jazz, across the street at Estereo.
Pizzeria Bebu (Lincoln Park)
Why couples should love it. Pizzeria Bebu, opened by wife-and-husband team Zach and Rachel Smith, consists of a long, narrow space with tables, plus several seats at the pizza bar. Guests may order a half-and-half pizza of anything from the menu, including the daily market offering. Brunch is offered several days a week with dishes like a market frittata, and baked eggs of tomato, roasted red pepper, sheep's milk feta, house-made focaccia.
What to order. Diners get choices like broccoli & rabe, Hot Daisy (vodka sauce, Calabrian chile, parmesan, fresh mozzarella, basil), vodka meatball (vodka sauce, parmesan, mozzarella, house-made meatball, pickled jalapeño, ricotta) and Peter Piper (house-made Italian sausage, mozzarella, banana pepper, pickled fresno and jalapeño). Pizzas are made in a custom-designed wood-fired oven.
Nearby attractions. The restaurant is located in a shopping district, plus Joe’s on Weed Street is around the corner.
Union Full Board (Wrigleyville)
Why couples should love it. Union Full Board is on the ground level of the slick boutique Wheelhouse Hotel. Tinker to Evers, a sports-oriented cocktail lounge, is situated directly under the restaurant. It’s a great choice to dip into after night-time Cubs games.
What to order. Detroit-inspired, square pizzas are what you’ll get here. Popular choices include The Godfather (Nueske's bacon, Ezzo’s pepperoni, sausage, tomato sauce) and Corktown BBQ chicken (shaved red onion and cilantro). Any pizza may be made gluten free.
Nearby attractions. Cubby Bear, Metro, Smart Bar, Wrigley Field