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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pizzeria Via Stato [Meeting #92]

Pizzeria Via Stato
620 N. State Street (GoogleMaps)
Chicago, IL
(312) 337-6634

CPC invaded Pizzeria Via Stato on 3/2/10.

Ten Pizza Clubbers turned out for an early meeting tonight at Pizzeria Via Stato in downtown Chicago. By some counts we had 10 2/3 people, but we round fractions and fetuses down in these parts.

Pizzeria Via Stato is part of the Lettuce Entertain You family of restaurants, perhaps Chicago's most successful restaurant company. A couple of years ago, the Lettuce people took the bar area of Osteria Via Stato, one of their Italian restaurants, and converted it into a separate pizzeria. Reservations are accepted at lunch but not dinner, so the CPC met earlier than normal, with most members showing up on time at 6:45 tonight. AJ was late and the loss was most definitely his as he did not get to experience the breadth of pizzas the rest of us did.

There are 11 pizzas on the menu, but one of those pies is barely filling enough for a dinner. We decided to get all 11 for the ten of us plus two extras. I knew from experience that the sausage and Margherita are both excellent so we ordered an extra one of each.

There are 6 red pizzas on the menu:

Classico Cheese (mozzarella, tomato sauce)
Margherita (San Marzano tomatoes, hand-pulled mozzarella, basil)
Vegetable (green pepper, vidalia onion, mushroom, mozzarella, basil)
Sausage (housemade sausage, mozzarella, tomato sauce)
Pepperoni (crispy pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato sauce)
Mushroom (mushroom, vidalia onion, mozzarella, tomato sauce)

There are 4 white pies:

Peppered Bacon (caramelized torpedo onion, hand-pulled mozzarella, Slagel farm egg)
Potato (organic fingerling potatoes, pancetta, smoked mozzarella)
Roasted Fennel (fennel, radicchio, hand-pulled mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano)
Four Cheese (hand-pulled mozzarella, young pecorino, goat cheese parmigiano)

And there's a rotating monthly special. Up this month is the Roasted Mushroom, which features oyster mushrooms, goat cheese, leeks and rosemary.

There were a couple of themes to all of the pizzas. First, there is the incredibly thin, crisp crust. This is thin even by Chicago cracker crust standards. The only place I can think of that comes close to this is Candlelite. But while Candlelite's crust is largely devoid of flavor, the nicely blistered crusts at Pizzeria Via Stato have a nice fresh bread flavor to them. The second, more important theme that was consistent across all the pizzas was the high quality ingredients.

I tried to survey the Club to see which were the favorites, but virtually every pie had a vocal supporter. Well, nobody thought the Vegetable pizza was the best, but that's to be expected. Personally, I thought the March Special stood out a bit. The sweet leeks, meaty roasted mushrooms and creamy goat cheese were perfectly matched. This pizza should be added to the regular menu immediately.

Another favorite for me was the peppered bacon. While every piece (these pies, which the restaurant calls "Tavern Pizzas," are cut into squares) is not blessed with egg, they all have the sweet onions, fresh mozzarella and bacon. As with the March Special, this pie had a fantastic blend of sweet and salty. In fact, those two pizzas were so good that we decided to replace our extra Margherita with one of them. After some discussion, we picked the Peppered Bacon. We must have confused our very attentive server because we got the Roasted Mushroom instead. Nobody minded one bit.

On the flip side, I was not a fan of the Roasted Fennel pie. The hand-pulled mozzarella was excellent as were two of the toppings - the fennel and the parmigiano reggiano. But the radicchio was too bitter for my taste. That said, at least one person identified it as one of their favorites.

I'm not going to go into detail about all 11 pizzas. Hopefully, other CPCers will chime in with detailed descriptions of their favorites and most hated. While we might not have achieved unanimity as to our favorite pies, we were in complete agreement that Pizzeria Via Stato puts out some delicious pizza.

Petey Pizza gives Pizzeria Via Stato an 8.175/10.



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10 comments:

  1. For the reasons stated above and because of the across the board use of high quality ingredients and consistently excellent pizzas, I give Pizzeria Via Stato an 8.3.

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  2. This is my second time here and I liked it as much as I did the first time. I highly recommend getting any pizza with asparagus on it.

    I'll talk about a few of the classics: sausage, cheese, and pepperoni. The pepperoni was the small diameter size and spread out well throughout the pie. The pepperoni had started to curl and crisp a bit and was satisfyingly salty. I swear the sausage had some sort of sesame oil or scallion or ginger flavor to it. I got the distinct impression there were some Asian flavors at play here. Maybe I'm crazy. Either way, it was a mild flavored sausage of very good quality. Finally, my personal favorite for the night was the classico cheese pizza. This was the only one that reminded me of a South Side pizza, which I grew up eating and still enjoy. It was salty, had non-fresh mozzarella, and had a slightly sweet sauce underneath it. Combined with the cracker thin crust and party cut, I felt I was having pizza and movie day in elementary school. Yum.

    A few misfires here and there, although none quite as tragic as the extra-sweet Margherita, lowers my score mildly. The good pizzas here were very good. I enjoyed their beer list that supplemented the usual Italian suspects with a few IPAs and Belgian ales.

    I give Pizzeria Via Stato an 8.1.

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  3. This place is pretty fancy for a pizzeria, and if you go there, you might as well go for a fancier pizza.

    My favorite was the special -- the roasted mushrooms, leeks, and goat cheese were a really winning combination with the crispy crust. Also excellent were the peppered bacon with egg, the four cheese, and the potato with rosemary.

    The more typical pies (veggie, sausage, pepperoni) were also good, but really not as special as the above-mentioned.

    The margherita was solid, but again, if you going to spend $10 to $12 on a small pizza, you might as well go for something with a little more to it.

    Might biggest disappointment was the roasted fennel. I love fennel and could barely taste it. The radicchio was overpowering, and the fennel flavor was almost non-existent, at least on the two pieces I had.

    Overall, this is very good pizza, and worth a trip to State street. I give it an 8.0.

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  4. This was great traditional Italian pizza. Very thin (I mean cracker thin) crust with powerful toppings. I was lucky enough to sample all the pizzas, and I am having a hard time picking a favorite. The sausage was great as was the pepperoni. Each had powerful aromas and was pleasing to the palate. The sausage was crumbled and had good texture to it without an unpleasant aftertaste. The pepperoni was salty and had some spicy to it. I would recommend the margarita pizza to those who enjoy a sweet sauce. The pizzas are individual sized and despite the thin crust can be quite filling. A huge complement to Via Stato is the fact that at no time did I even want to place any parmesan cheese, or crushed red pepper or extra oregano on any of the pizzas. They all had just enough seasoning for me to not need one iota more. I give this place an enthusiastic 8.5/10. I would gladly go back any time.

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  5. Pizzeria Via Stato draws you in with a cozy candlelit atmosphere to go along with a variety of gourmet cracker-thin pizzas. I'm typically prefer red pizzas, but in this case the most notable were the whites: the monthly special Roasted Mushroom and the Roasted Fennel. The Roasted Mushroom combination balanced the mildness of the leek and saltiness and tartness of the goat cheese. In the Roasted Fennel, I couldn't taste much fennel, but the bitterness of the radicchio was an unusual and welcomed flavor. The reds were also good, mind you. Of them, I enjoyed the Four-Cheese, Margherita and Pepperoni. There isn't anything unique about these but they were all solid pizzas with balanced dispersement of quality ingredients. In all the pizzas, the crust was cracker-thin, crispy on the edges yet a little bit of chewiness as you move toward the center, while not being overly-greasy. Overall, a high quality combination of pizza, selection and atmosphere.

    8.0

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  6. Pizzeria Via Stato puts out some really nice pizzas of high quality ingredients that are consistently well made. The very thin crust means that one pizza might not be enough to fill you up, but in this case it was great because we were able to sample so many without getting too full.

    I ordinarily prefer red pizzas, and the pepperoni and sausage were both great, but the creative white pizzas really stood out. The peppered bacon and the roasted mushroom were really good - the leeks on the latter pizza were perfectly tender and flavorful, and I would love to see leeks on more pizzas. I am usually a sucker for a Margherita, but the added sweetness put me off a bit. I prefer just the natural sweetness of a juicy, plump tomato.

    8.2

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  7. Simply put, one of the best pizzas I've had in a while. Delicious thin crust, a nice variety of good-quality toppings. Not going to overthink this one too much, I liked every pizza we sampled, I give them an 8.75

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  8. I ate at Pizzeria Via Stato once before almost a year ago, and I was impressed then. This time around, having the chance to try all their menu had to offer, I was impressed with the depth of the selections. The ingredients were pretty much top notch, and the more 'out there' the item was, the better executed it was. I was a bigger fan of the Peppered Bacon, Potato, and Roasted Mushroom pizzas when pitted against the other, more familiar ones. Admitedly, I felt a little overwhelmed by the selection (odd, because of other outings with just as many samplings), but I know that I enjoyed the meal a lot.

    Recommended, and an 8.3.

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  9. The cracker crust really stood out at Pizzeria Via Stato. The light crispiness of the crust really lends itself to accommodate a variety of toppings. Unfortunately for me however none of the exotic topping combinations really hit it off. My pie of choice for this visit was the crazily sweet Margherita pizza. Normally such a sweet sauce would be a negative but in this round it sure hit the spot. There is something to be said about a pizzeria that has something for everyone and I feel that Via Stato fits that bill.

    8.1

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  10. I was the late-commer to the meeting and I had the unique opportunity to sample the pizzas after it had cooled and the cracker crust lost its crackerness. Still, all the pies I sampled were very tasty. Despite being obviously a bit flimsy, the crust held its own and held the ambitious toppings well. My favorite pizza was the roasted mushrooms, leeks, and goat cheese. The combination was very rustic and the appearance very autumny ... which I found very appetizing. Unfortunately, I do not remember much about the other pizzas, as I did not sample all of them and really just gorged through the scraps. No complaints here. 7.5 out of 10.

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