Chicago Pizza Goes Thin
SPACCA NAPOLI PIZZERIA
Address: 1769 West Sunnyside Avenue, Chicago IL 60640 [map]
Phone number: 773-878-2420
Hours: Lunch, W-Sat., 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner, W-Th., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., F-Sat., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sun., noon to 9 p.m.
An interesting story in the "Good Eating" section of the Chicago Tribune today about the Windy City's Spacca Napoli, complete with recipe. The piece touches on the Neapolitan pizza trend that's sweeping Chicago (as it has in New York, Phoenix, and San Francisco), namechecking a handful of thin-crust Italian-style pizzerias that have opened there in the last few years.
Spacca Napoli opened on Valentine's Day in 2006. That [pizzaiolo-owner Jonathan] Goldsmith could sell thin-crust deep inside deep-dish turf was a good omen to Chris Bardol, who was poised to open Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizzeria in Indiana. Bardol's first bite of thin crust was at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix and he was converted. But he wondered if his prospective clientele, which included large numbers of Chicagoans, would go for it.
Enter Goldsmith's venture. "I really felt we would do well if someone could see the opportunity in a deep-dish city," Bardol said.
Phil Vettel, the Tribune's restaurant critic, traces the city's fondness for thin crust to 1985 and the opening of Franco Zalloni's Trattoria Pizzeria Roma. "It brought to Chicago's mainstream the concept of appetizer pizzas, small pizzas with crisp, blistered crusts topped with all manner of creative (but appropriately Italian) ingredients.
Jeff Ruby, coauthor of Everybody Loves Pizza, senior editor at Chicago magazine, and an old friend and college newspaper colleague of mine, gets a quote in, too: "It seems [what has] happened here is pizza is going in two separate directions... There's California Pizza Kitchen where anything goes. Then there's the backlash. People are going back to the basics and following strict Neapolitan rules... Pizza has evolved so much in America it's come full circle."
A rather insightful observation, even if it weren't coming from a friend of Slice.