This is the blog and public record of the Chicago Pizza Club. We eat a lot of pizza and share our thoughts on it as well as post any relevant pizza news we come across.

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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.

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.