Offbeat pizza new trend for city known for deep dish
Created by the team behind Bin 36 and Bin Wine Café, casual Italian eatery A Mano (335 N. Dearborn St., 312-629-3500) offers five handmade, wood-oven pizzas, including the fatto A Mano fennel sausage (with fingerling potatoes and arugula) and lamb Polpette (with roasted eggplant and tomatoes).
The Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder (2121 N Clark St., 773 248-2570) was way ahead of its time when it invented the “pizza pot pie” in 1972. And even though the old-timers still come here, it’s got a whole new legion of fans wrapping the line around the corner in the summertime. Unlike most pizza joints, this Lincoln Park legend doesn’t serve traditional pizza; only the pizza pot pie (a triple-raised Sicilian bread dough, homemade sauce, special blend of cheeses, sausage and fresh mushrooms) and oven grinders—sandwiches stuffed with meat, cheese and veggies then baked to perfection.
At West Town newcomer Coalfire (1321 W. Grand Ave., 312-226-2625), they’re cranking up the oven to 800 degrees to push out pies that are drawing in a faithful neighborhood crowd. And this BYOB is also putting an American spin on the classic Neapolitan-style pizza with offerings like the hard-to-resist Fiorentino (mozzarella topped with tomato sauce, and layered with hot calabrese salami and roasted red peppers) and specialty Margherita topped with tomato sauce, fresh basil, olive oil and grated Romano cheese.
Not too far away in Ukrainian Village is the Midwest’s first-ever certified organic eatery, Crust (2056 W. Division St., 773-235-5511). The hipster haven is organic from ceiling to the vodka-infused cocktails. The front and rear patios are especially popular during the summer, where customers gobble down funky flatbreads like the Mexicali Blues (with wood-fired shrimp, chihuahua cheese, pico de gallo, heirloom peppers, cilantro) and Crust’s unique Shroom, with roasted mushrooms, goat cheese and baby spinach.
You can get generous pizza portions at the unassuming River North spot Delicious (308 W. Erie St., 312-787-8200), which is adjacent to late-night dance club Buzz (312-475-9800). Sink your teeth into their vegan special, sprinkled with grilled tofu, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and fresh basil.
The former home to Tucci Bennuch is now the new location for Frankie’s Fifth Floor Pizzeria (900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-266-2500), on the fifth floor of the luxurious 900 Shops. Owned by the usually safe Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Frankie’s steps waaay out with the Rita D, a combination of seasoned ricotta, fresh mozzarella, Milanese asparagus and a fresh egg cracked over the center of the pie while cooking. It’s served tableside, so diners need to eat it while it’s piping hot. They’re also boasting several authentic Sardinian-style pizzas, which are simple, white pizzas like the fennel and rosemary.
Cozy Lakeview date spot Frasca Pizza and Wine Bar (3358 N. Paulina St., 773-248-5222) gets high marks for its pizza selections made with premium items like the Four Cheese (mozzarella, blue cheese, ricotta and provolone) and Capone (with tomato sauce, wood roasted onions, fennel sausage, fresh mozzarella). Also, they’ve got great daily deals, including Wednesdays when customers who purchase one pizza get the second one free.
Il Fiasco (5101 N. Clark St., 773-769-9700), an Andersonville corner Italian restaurant, is quickly becoming known for its unconventional, Neapolitan pies. One of the standouts is the Fiorenta, made with wilted spinach, garlic, mozzarella, tomato, ham and a free range egg. And Thursday through Saturday from 5-7pm, guests get complimentary pizza at the bar.
Little Italy’s sole sushi spot Japonica (1422 W. Taylor St., 312-421-3288) also stands out for its Okonomiyaki, an authentic Japanese pizza made with eggs, leeks, onions, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, seaweed, shrimp and chicken on a vegetable-infused, fried flour dough pie-base. It’s served Thursday and Friday only in this tiny BYOB.
La Madia (59 W. Grand Ave., 312-329-0400) feels like a neighborhood hang, with its dark wood accents and colorful artwork on the walls. But you’ll find this River North pizza joint way more upscale than the others even as you’re noshing on such fire-wood delights as white clams with sweet chili peppers, fresh herbs or the spinach with toasted pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil.