I Monelli Trattoria Pizzeria [GoogleMaps]
5019 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
CPC invaded I Monelli Trattoria Pizzeria on 4/16/09.
Review submitted by Andrew
With another tax day safely behind us (and with hopefully all members in good standing with the IRS) the Chicago Pizza Club decided to hit up the North Side to try out I Monelli Trattoria Pizzeria. This neighborhood pizzeria is located in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood not too far from the Western Ave. Brown line stop.
Opened in April of 2008 by Marco Schiavoni (owner of the Pizza Metro restaurants in the East Village area) and chef Giovanni Carzedda (formerly of Pizza D.O.C. and Il Covo)—along with food importer Massimiliano Agostini—I Monelli (which roughly translates to "Those Rascals") serves up contemporary Roman-style pizza along with such other Italian fare as antipasti, salads, pasta, and paninis. But, as always, we came for the pizza... but oh, did I mention that the restaurant is BYOB? Fortunately some members of the CPC remembered to raid their liquor supplies before heading down.
The Roman-style pizza at I Monelli features a thick (thicker than a normal pie, but not as thick as a pan or a Sicillian-style pizza) hand-tossed crust, topped with olive oil before being cooked in a 400 degree pizza oven. Pizzas are square cut and topped with a sauce made from imported Italian tomatoes. There are are nine different topping combinations to choose from on the menu, and of course you can always build your own pie with the standard toppings.
The rectangular pies at I Monelli come in three sizes; 5", 9" (a half sheet) and 18" (a full sheet). On our trip the Chicago Pizza Club ordered five of their specialty pizzas and one custom pie:
- Potate é Rosmarino (Potato & Rosemary)
- Capricciosa (Artichoke, Ham & Black Olives)
- Margherita (Fresh Tomato & Basil)
- Rucola (Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula on White Pizza Dough)
- Romana (Ham, Onions & Oregano)
- Sausage, Garlic & Sauteed Mushrooms
The pizzas all shared the same signature crust along with a minimal amount of sauce with the Romana and Capricciosa pizzas having a little bit more. When the sauce did stand out though it made quite a difference. Toppings for the most part were all pretty generous (especially with the arugula), I felt that the Romana could've used more oregano since it was hardly noticeable on the pizza at all and since it was listed as one if the toppings it seemed like it should've stood out more.
Among the favorites were the Sausage, Mushroom and Garlic pizza, the Potato & Rosemary and the Margherita which had a bit more cheese than the others pizzas and was topped with very fresh basil. The mozzerella on the Margherita also stood out from the other pizzas tonight.
All in all, a solid outing. All of the pizzas were consistent. Unlike some other restaurants that the Chicago Pizza Club has been to lately, I Monelli knows what they do well and sticks to that style of pizza.