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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Macello Ristorante [Meeting #101]

Macello Ristorante
1235 W Lake St. [GoogleMaps]
Chicago, IL
(312) 850-9870

CPC invaded Macello Ristorante on 11/2/10.

Macello Ristorante is situated along the moderately-industrial corridor that is Lake Street on Chicago’s near west side. Next to the roar of the elevated tracks that form Lake Street’s canopy, Macello is tucked discretely between a vacant lot and a space that once housed a welding shop. Upon entering Macello, you immediately smell hard woods burning in their two wood-burning ovens (yes, two). The room is very inviting and a great place to eat pizza, which at Macello, is made in the fashion of the Puglia region of Italy (very southern part, where owner Giovanni Denigris hails from, according to reconnaissance by Chicago Magazine in their July 2010 write up of Macello).

Chicago Pizza Club ordered four pies during the November 2, 2010 excursion to Macello:

  • Pizza Macello: Burrata, Cerignola Olive and Barese Sausage
  • Pizza Pugliese: Burrata and Thinly-sliced Mortadella
  • Pizza Bianca: Fresh Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Basil and Arugula
  • Pizza Americana: Fresh Mozzarella, Sopressata, Mushrooms, Roasted Peppers
One advantage to having two wood-burning ovens is that you can crank out the pizzas fairly quickly, and the wait after ordering was not long for our group. All of the pies had a very thin, crunchy crust that seemed to hold up well to the ingredients. A nice bonus was the ever-so-slight char on the crusts’ edge, which made each slice completely enjoyable to the last bite.

The Pizza Macello was speckled with tasty dollops of Burrata cheese, which was complimented by the mild, herby olives; Barese sausage was applied appropriately and the combination with Macello’s moderately acidic/slightly sweet sauce was very nice, indeed. The Pugliese seemed to be lauded by all those in attendance – paper-thin slices of Mortadella allowed plenty of flavor exploration, and the fresh, spongy Burrata played nice with the slightly salty meat and the tomato sauce.

The Bianca, which gained Macello its spot in Chicago Magazine’s aforementioned issue, was refreshing and light, with large arugula leaves doing the heavy lifting for the pie’s overall flavor; chunks of Mozzarella and big pieces of cherry tomato with olive oil and basil gave a background reminiscent of Caprese salad. Last up for Pizza Club was the Americana – it was this reviewer’s least favorite of the evening (not that it was bad…just in comparison to the others) – the Sopressata was very strong, like a hybrid between salami and pepperoni, and seemed a fairly appropriate pairing with the mushrooms and roasted red peppers, if only for their role in offsetting the Sopressata’s very strong flavor. Mozzarella was a good inclusion here, although after eating the Burrata at Macello, one might wish they could sub it in on all their pizzas.

6 comments:

  1. Based on my comments above, I felt Macello earned an 8.4.

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  2. I enjoyed all of these pizzas and was suprised by what a nice flavor the aragula added to the Pizza Bianca. All of the meat and cheese toppings were delicious, and the crust held up very well—both literally and in terms of taste. A little burnt at times on the ends but that's to be expected with a wood-burning oven and a small price to pay for such a fine pie. 8.5

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  3. To be honest, I was a little less impressed than Adam and Andrew were by Macello. Some of that might have to do with the wood-fired pizza overdose I’ve been getting. I do love this style of pizza, but lately have been craving plain Midwestern tavern pizza more and more. While Macello did a good job with its wood-fired pizza, there is a lot of competition in Chicago and I don’t think that they are doing much to set themselves apart from the others.

    The pizzas we tried ranged from incredible to boring for me. I LOVED the Pizza Macello; the sausage was hearty, flavorful and not too greasy, and Cerignola olives are some of my favorite and were a surprising and welcomed topping. I also liked the mortadella pizza, with its crisp and salty meat. The soppresata on the Americana was also fantastic, but I wasn’t excited by the vegetables on it. And maybe my slice of the Bianca didn’t have the best topping distribution, as I just wasn’t into it. I thought it was boring and lacking the punch that the other pizzas had. The arugula helped out a little, but besides that I couldn’t taste a whole lot.

    This probably will not become a place that I go when I crave this style of pizza. But will I be here again? Sure – it’s a block away from my gym and I’m lazy and hungry. I’ll stick with the Pizza Macello, though.

    My score: 7

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  4. Not too bad! My score for Macello's is an 8.5. There were a few things I liked here.

    1. Excessive use of burrata. I'm not sure if this is from buffalo or cow, but it was great and they were generous in their dollops of this creamy goodness.

    2. Their meats were good. I thought the mortadella was great. I still haven't been lucky enough to have the famed mortadella pizza at another local place, but you can clearly see why it makes for an excellent pizza topping - it's fatty and heats up beautifully. Not sure why more people don't use it as a topping. The sausage was pretty good; mild and crumbly. The sopressata was good, but it was sliced a little thick. I was struggling to chew the spicy sausage and wasn't really getting it in continuity with the rest of the pizza. I'd advise thinner slices to make it easier for the mouth to handle.

    3. The crust. A nice, wood-fired pizza crust that was excellent at the edge and surprisingly resistant to sag in the middle.

    A few things that were disappointing...

    1. The Bianca. Admittedly, I'm no fan of white pizzas in this city (but have had some great ones in New York), but this one had some familiar issues. It was dry, and didn't have a depth of flavor similar to the other pizzas. I appreciated the mozzarella on it and there was nothing to point a finger at to say was bad, but it was missing flavor profiles.

    2. Our failure to try the calzone. We were a small group and felt it was best to get after the pizzas and not try the calzone. Next time.

    3. Lack of meat on toppings. I usually complain when places with wood-fired ovens load their pizzas with too many toppings and make them soggy. Macello's stayed away from this, but I felt they could have used a LITTLE more on their pizzas. I'm never satisfied.


    Overall, I liked it quite a bit. I'm surprised Jeff Ruby felt that the Bianca was the superior pizza here, but I felt the other were very good. It seemed a bit empty in there, and with the Randolph corridor humming along there is a fair bit of competition for the dining monies in this city. However, I hope more people make it out here to try some of the better wood-fired pizza in town.

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  5. This establishment pleases me. They do what they do well. It’s a place that I could go to and not feel like I had just ravaged my insides by “American Style” pizza aka, truckloads of heavy meats and cheeses. Don’t get me wrong, the fat girl inside me was slightly disappointed by the thrifty use of toppings, but this pizza would be delectable by anyone’s standards. The toppings were fresh and delightfully unusual, and I was obliged to travel the previously uncharted waters of mortadella sausage and burrata cheese. As Mr. President had referenced, the burrata cheese is in fact a water buffalo mozzarella, blended with cream… mmmm delicious water buffalo. I’m a diehard fan of salty-goodness, so the mortadella sausage was my favorite meat topping of the evening. The Barese sausage was a-ok, but I think it could have used more salt and spices to enhance it’s flavor. My runner-up favorite pizza of the evening was the Pizza Pugliese, which paired the savory, saltiness of the mortadella with the mild burrata and created a glorious contrast. My favorite pizza of the evening was the controversial Pizza Bianca, or as I like to call it “pizza salad”. I enjoyed the interesting texture and nutty flavor that the fresh arugula adds. There is no red sauce on this pie, but olive oil and a scattering of cherry tomatoes that were either cooked al dente, or raw and warmed by the heat of the crust. Regardless, my taste buds wrote a song about it. I was also fond of both the Macello and the Americana, but not as infatuated as with the aforementioned pies.
    I’ll tell you what, the crust was wondrous. In my opinion, it was cooked to perfection with just the right amount of crispiness and the edges burned just enough to give a brick oven flava without being overpowering. Best of all, it was impervious to the classic “middle sag” of brick oven pizza. The question is this: has the crust avoided sag because there isn’t a lot of moisture and oils from excess toppings or has Macello solved one of life’s greatest mysteries?
    Either way, I’ll be repaying a visit to Macello, the rest of the menu intrigued me. The salad and appetizer selection look great and has several appealing options for vegetarians, which I always appreciate.
    8.9

    ReplyDelete
  6. This establishment pleases me. They do what they do well. It’s a place that I could go to and not feel like I had just ravaged my insides by “American Style” pizza aka, truckloads of heavy meats and cheeses. Don’t get me wrong, the fat girl inside me was slightly disappointed by the thrifty use of toppings, but this pizza would be delectable by anyone’s standards. The toppings were fresh and delightfully unusual, and I was obliged to travel the previously uncharted waters of mortadella sausage and burrata cheese. As Mr. President had referenced, the burrata cheese is in fact a water buffalo mozzarella, blended with cream… mmmm delicious water buffalo. I’m a diehard fan of salty-goodness, so the mortadella sausage was my favorite meat topping of the evening. The Barese sausage was a-ok, but I think it could have used more salt and spices to enhance it’s flavor. My runner-up favorite pizza of the evening was the Pizza Pugliese, which paired the savory, saltiness of the mortadella with the mild burrata and created a glorious contrast. My favorite pizza of the evening was the controversial Pizza Bianca, or as I like to call it “pizza salad”. I enjoyed the interesting texture and nutty flavor that the fresh arugula adds. There is no red sauce on this pie, but a scattering of cherry tomatoes that were either cooked al dente, or raw and warmed by the heat of the crust. Regardless, my taste buds wrote a song about it. I was also fond of both the Macello and the Americana, but not as infatuated as with the aforementioned pies.
    I’ll tell you what, the crust was wondrous. In my opinion, it was cooked to perfection with just the right amount of crispiness and the edges burned just enough to give a brick oven flava without being overpowering. Best of all, it was impervious to the classic “middle sag” of brick oven pizza. The question is this: has the crust avoided sag because there isn’t a lot of moisture and oils from excess toppings or has Macello solved one of life’s greatest mysteries?
    Either way, I’ll be repaying a visit to Macello, the rest of the menu intrigued me. The salad and appetizer selection look great and has several appealing options for vegetarians, which I always appreciate.
    8.9

    ReplyDelete