The Pizza Club had gone dark for nearly a month when an email went out on August 5, 2007 announcing a meeting the very next night at Trattoria Roma. Pizza Clubbers responded well and an official meeting convened on a rainy Monday evening in Old Town.
Trattoria Roma came highly recommended by the website, 10best.com, which listed it among the top 10 pizza restaurants in Chicago. After the Pizza Club meeting was over, I cannot disagree with that assessment – the place definitely did not disappoint.
Trattoria Roma is a small, crowded restaurant that would probably bring back memories of a neighborhood restaurant in Rome if I had ever been to such a place. The one time I was in Rome, I spent most of my limited budget on gelato and museums/ruins, and I visited no residential neighborhoods aside from the one where the youth hostel was located. I digress.
The restaurant had our table waiting and upon being seated, we noticed pizzas on a nearby table and decided we would have to get one pizza per person as each pie is about 9 inches across. We got a Margherita, a Quattro Formaggi (blue, swiss, mascarpone and mozzarella), a Pizza della Casa (sausage, onion and mascarpone), and 2 Quattro Stagione (prosciutto, artichoke, mushroom, olive and egg). We also had a couple of bottles of tasty red wine (all wine is half price on Mondays and Tuesdays).
All pizzas are on a delicious thin crust. As cooky-monster states in the notes, the crust is thicker than traditional gourmet pizzas. Given the flavorful toppings, the extra dough in the crust creates a nice balance.
The Margherita was unlike any margherita pizza that any of the members had ever had. It tasted like a cheese pizza. It was good; it just wasn’t a margherita – too much cheese. As we would soon find out, the pizza chef loves cheese.
We ordered two Quattro Stagiones because we wanted to make sure that people got to try more than one topping. A quattro stagione, Italian for four seasons, typically is divided into quarters with each quarter having a single different topping. Trattoria Roma’s version had five toppings and they were all mixed together. That the egg was raw was a pit of a surprise, but good ingredients, good cheese, and a good crust made a delicious pizza.
I thought the Quattro Formaggi was excellent, but the combination of the chef’s love of quantities of cheese and the fact that two of the four cheeses (blue and mascarpone) are particularly heavy, made the pizza a challenge for some to enjoy. Personally, I share the chef’s apparent belief that there really is no such thing as too much cheese.
The Pizza della Casa was Trattoria Roma at its peak. The dollops of moscarpone balanced the delicious sausage and an outstanding crust ably supported the flavorful combination. I really liked all of the pizzas, but I thought this one was unquestionably the best.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of pizza at Trattoria Roma. I am predisposed to assuming the worst about Old Town restaurants, but since this place predates the Disnefication of the neighborhood, I should have held no such bias. Regardless, the service was good, the pizza was excellent (a new addition to my personal list of top pies in the city), and the prices were right (about $10 each). I will return again soon and hopefully get to taste some of the ricotta cheesecake made by the owner's grandmother (in very limited quantities).
Petey gives Trattoria Roma a 7.7/10.
Pizza della Casa
A sad sight...
Where it went down...