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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Via Carducci La Sorella [Meeting #102]

Via Carducci La Sorella
1928 W Division Street [Google Maps]
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 252-2244

CPC invaded Via Carducci La Sorella on 11/18/10.

Opened as the sister restaurant to the original Via Carducci in Lincoln Park in 1996, Via Carducci La Sorella has been offering rustic Southern Italian cuisine to the Wicker Park neighborhood since 2007. Their menu offers several dishes, including nine pizzas and one calzone. Since we were a small group of three this Thursday evening, we ordered three 12" pizzas, each of which were cut into ten slices and ended up costing a total of $20 per person including tax and tip.

We sampled:

  • Novella : Fresh porcini mushrooms, new potatoes, red onions, rosemary, mozzarella (no tomato sauce)
  • Rustica : Figs, caramelized red onions, gorgonzola cheese (no tomato sauce)
  • Roma : Sausage, mushrooms, onions, mozzarella and provolone cheese
The pizza has an unsual thin crust. It wasn't the super thin cracker crust you often find at Chicago pizzerias, but a thicker attempt at the cracker crust (think layered matzah crackers). The crust was virtually flavorless, consisting of probably no more than flour and water. Its texture was bizarre in that it had an initial flakey quality that turned into a somewhat stale bite. Atop the crust were mediocre ingredients. I applaud Via Carducci La Sorella for stepping out on a limb and trying some unique toppings, like the figs found on the Rustica, and potatoes on the Novella. The Roma was the most typical pizza and I think was the most well received of the bunch. Although I wasn't put off by the Rustica, I believe this ranked as the least favorite among the group. Out of the three pizzas, only one had tomato sauce (Roma), and I found it to be run of the mill and not too dominant. Although the toppings seemed to be fresh, the proportions were a bit skewed. For instance, the Rustica had little gorgonzola cheese, and was overpowered by the mozzarella. Needless to say, we had quite a bit of pizza remaining to take home.

Via Carducci La Sorella is inviting with its intimately spaced tables and dim lighting, and was bustling the night of our meeting, as I'm sure it is any other night of the week. Although I did see a nearby table nibbling on a pizza, the other offerings seem to be the choice selections.

3 comments:

  1. Well, I used to live not too far from Via Carducci, and it was a trip watching all the fancy-schmancy restaurants pop up on Milwaukee and Division. Now that the area seems fairly well saturated with higher-end cuisine, I have to imagine that a place needs to be on its game in order to survive amongst its neighbors. I was not really impressed with the pizza at Via Carducci - after being there and hearing the other patrons talking about their food, I was more interested in their lasagna, and I can't imagine they'd be around for long if all they offered was their pizza.

    The crust was not bad in terms of texture and composition, but it was dry and didn't offer much flavor (some examples of good crust flavors it didn't have: yeast, beer, butter, grain). I thought the one red sauce pizza we got (Roma) could've used a little more sauce, or maybe a tangier one in place of the timid sauce that they used. The other two pizzas did not have sauce, and coupled with the dry crust phenomena, they left a lot to be desired. I will say that the figs were better than I anticipated, but I still wasn't a fan - any fig lovers out there may want to grab one of the Rustica pizzas as an appetizer before getting a reportedly-delicious Italian entree for the main course.

    I think that's what we attendees agreed on - that Carducci's pizza would be a decent appetizer before moving on to bigger, more succulent things.

    I vote 5.3 on the CPC grading scale.

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  2. As mentioned in the review, Via Carducci La Sorella is not the place to make pizza your main course. However, it is a comfortable, energetic atmosphere and worth going back to try their lasagna.

    Via Carducci La Sorella gets a 4.

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  3. Upon perusing the pizza menu at Via Carducci La Sorella, I was impressed with some of the offerings. Some of the topping combinations appeared particularly inventive - the Rustica with figs, carmelized red onions, and gorgonzola; and the Novella with porcini mushrooms, rosemary potatoes, red onions, and mozzerella...although Via Carducci hit as far as inventiveness....they were a miss with respect to flavor, at least in the two pizzas I tasted. As discussed above, the crust was simple, thin, and relatively flavorless. I actually didn't have a problem with this...I think that this type of crust can be a nice backdrop for dominant toppings...overall however, the pizza failed to deliver.

    The Novella: When the pizza arrived, we could appreciate the aroma of rosemary - it was rather delightful, actually. And although the potatoes were very well prepared, the pizza itself was rather bland.
    The Rustica: I was very much looking forward to trying this unique pizza. Perhaps I thought I liked figs more than I actually do. The figs themselves were plump, and rather tasty. A fig LOVER would enjoy this pizza. For my taste, a more generous application of gorgonzola would have given the pizza a better balance.

    The menu at Via Carducci is impressive, and the ambience is cozy and inviting. I would definitely return to the restaurant to sample some of the more traditional italian fare...however i will probably skip the pizza.

    My score: 5.0

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