3913 N. Sheridan Rd (GoogleMaps)
CPC invaded Pizza Rustica on 2/21/08.
Pizza Rustica is a BYOB spot on Sheridan Road just south of Irving Park, mere steps from the Sheridan Red Line stop. We arrived on a bitterly cold evening to find that we were not the only ones brave enough to face the elements in order to go to out for these pies.
We began with two of the finest bottles of red wine, which the waitress immediately opened for us. She then brought glasses to those who wanted them (though she neglected to tell us that each glass came with a $1.50 corkage fee - no biggy). The pizza clubbers were hungry and set to the task of selecting pizzas. Pizza Rustica offers 8 different specialty pizzas, so we did not even consider coming up with our own combinations. There were only five of us, but we decided to go for three pizzas. We quickly settled on Tutta Pizza ~ Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushroom, Onion, Black Olives & Bleu Cheese, as well as the Quattro Stagioni ~ Tomatoes, Artichoke, Mushrooms & Ham. The woman suggested Verdure Grigliate ~ Roasted Peppers, Zucchini & Mushrooms. The men initially humored her before suggesting Patate Rosmarino ~ Thinly Sliced Potatoes Seasoned with Rosemary, which is what we ultimately went with, a decision some would come to regret.
The ambience at Pizza Rustica is fairly cozy. There is a second room, but it was empty the night we visited. The tables were somewhat packed in, but they didn't seem to close together. Of course, we were outside of the main dining area so it's hard to be sure. Anyhow, there was nothing particularly memorable about the place other than the rather nifty oven which is out for all to see (pictured below).
About thirty minutes after we ordered, three hot pizzas were delivered to our table. The crust on the pies was a new one for me. It was almost like a thin (about 1/3 inch), slightly compressed focaccia. Very tasty, but with a mild enough flavor that it served its purpose of complementing the toppings. None of the pizzas had much sauce. Normally, that would be a big strike against it. In this case, it really didn't detract from the pizza. The crust, cheese and toppings were all so flavorful, that sauce wasn't necessary.
About the toppings. The Tutta Pizza was my personal favorite. I would have liked a little more bleu cheese as many bites had none, but I can understand why they skimp on it as that's such a strong flavor and nobody wants it to overwhelm the rest of the pie. The Quattro Stagioni was also excellent. Of particular note were the tomatoes. How Pizza Rustica got such flavorful tomatoes in Chicago in February is a testament to either some impressive connections, recent developments in hot house gardening technology, or dumb luck. In any event, everyone at the table seemed to love both of those pizzas.
The potato and rosemary pizza got a mixed review. Some actively disliked both the flavor and the undercooked potatoes on their pieces. My pizzas had only well-cooked potatoes and I really liked the simplicity of the potato and the rosemary (a lot of rosemary).
All in all, I was very happy with Pizza Rustica and I will definitely return there again, particularly in the summer when outdoor seating is available.
In other news, it has come to my attention that Big Cheese Pizza, home of Chicago Pizza Club meeting #36, has gone out of business. A moment of silence for the best chocolate calzones any of us have ever had.
Ambience to spare...
Half and half...
Tutta Pizza ~ Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushroom, Onion, Black Olives & Bleu Cheese
Better grab that pizza fast...
Where it went down...
We invite you to post any comments on anywhere you have eaten under our review of that establishment. If you have any questions, please read the FAQs on the sidebar first to see if it has already been answered. Please note that we are at capacity and are not seeking new members. And finally, if you have a place you think we should try, have some other inquiry, or want to send us love/hatemail then please contact us at:
Wednesday, February 20, 2008