My (pizza) life had changed, the moment I demolished two pizzas one balmy summer afternoon in Naples at Pizzeria Da Michele. I saw the stars, the moons and everything magical with every bite of that innocent margarita while sitting on a grimy sidewalk right outside the establishment. My standards for the best pizza have been met and now I had the rest of my life to match it.
I’ve done enough pizza chewing, research and hunting to find out what makes a pizza ‘good’ or average. Here are three tips on what to look for when making a judgement:
1. The flour- make sure it’s a double zero flour made from high quality flour like King Arthur or Caputo
2. The sauce – every good pizzeria carried San Marzano sauce
3. The mozzarella – it must be homemade, fresh from their kitchen; I will never encourage anyone to have pizza with processed cheese. Best mozzarella? Buffalo Mozzarella, Boom!
and lastly.. Italian or rather Sicilian olive oil – but that, I will go on about another time.
Living in Chicago, the hunt for the perfect, non-westernized curry, sushi or pizza is more on the scarce side, considering all the infusions that have been trending over the past few years. Authenticity for a traditional cuisine has become rare due to the highly competitive nature of contemporary dining. So today, I’m going to list for you the best pizzas I’ve come across in Chicago that can certainly come close to Da Michele’s pizza from Nappoli both in taste, experience and atmosphere.
Pizzas at Fred’s (Barneys) : The Chic Pizza
This pizza is a little on the expensive side but.. pay a little bit more but get a ton more in value, nutrition and taste. The crust is crisp and chewy with phenomenal flavor. At Freds, the chef only uses San Marzano tomatoes, King Arthur flour, homemade mozzarella, and Monini olive oil made exclusively from Italian olives. San Marzano crushed tomato sauce was tangy enough but you tasted what seemed to be volcanic grown tomatoes, almost as if it was a healthy mineral explosion in your mouth. In the pizza world, that seems like the highest quality of ingredients, not to mention the Spoleto olive oil. All pizza establishments that use these products or even half of it, would make a Napolitan Pizza gourmand deeply satisfied and Fred’s is no exception.
Pizzeria Da Nella : The Authentic 1 Pizza
If you’re after a proper Neapolitan pizza, then this is the place to go. With a proper wood fire oven, the pizza that they craft and master is ultra thin crusted, chewy and full of flavor. For a couple more dollars, you get to chose buffalo instead of regular mozzarella and the taste and creaminess of this cheese is beyond decent. The restaurant is run by an Italian couple from Naples and these guys know what they’re doing about when it comes to authenticity and running an authentic Italian establishment. Spend a minute on yelp and see the raving reviews about authenticity, taste and.. chewiness. Oh and I forgot to mention… a majority of the staff are… surprise, surprise… Italian 🙂
Spacca Napoli : The Authentic 2 Pizza
People generally opt for location when it comes to less complex food choices such as Pizzas and sandwiches. But this spot here defies that thought. Spacca Napoli has managed to impress not only Chicagoans but Pizza lovers Nationally.
The Pizza: pizzas here truly matches the standards of pizzas you find in Naples, Italy. The owner spent enough time in the region to learn and understand the meaning of what it takes to make a good gourmet pizza. He’s also never cutting corners on any of the ingredients- premium Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes and surely the best buffalo mozzarella one can find. Thin, crisp but also incredibly flavorful and ‘real’… you actually feel like you’re having a healthy meal and checking all the appropriate boxes for protein, carbs and fat. The service team is not exactly similar to standard found downtown and the location might not be the most convenient (if you don’t drive) but it’s definitely worth the visit. You’ll also find the Neapolitan community in Chicago there often for authentic food… and you know what they say about a restaurant that attracts it’s locals, right?
www.spaccanapolipizzeria.com1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Pizza Parlor : The Trendy Pizza
The guys here at Pizza parlor take pizza making seriously because they know you’re coming in hungry. Very popular with the trendy crowd, this restaurant will take care of any hang over needs while managing to have a great and social atmosphere. The decor is quite rustic with dim lighting which gives you an instant chilled out vibe, cozy enough to compare to your living room. The patio opens up during summers and if you’re looking for a tan while eating, this is the place to be. A very spacious patio with an equally warm and rustic feel to it. There are a couple of cozy leather sofas that I’m certain you’d like to yourself into as soon as you enter… so, fight for it 🙂
The Pizza: We’ve ordered the little Stinker and the Burrata be kidding me. To be honest, I’m going to give these guys a high five for making pizza so delicious and creative. Containing all the top trending ingredients, these pizzas will satisfy your tastebuds, belly and cancel any hang-overs you might be carrying. The staff here are the BEST- incredibly generous and friendly… one of the friendliest in Chicago! Get your instagram ready for some yum yums and be seen in one of Chicago’s coolest spots to hit.www.parlorchicago.com 108 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
Ranalli’s Pizza: The Sporty Pizza
Frequented by Lincoln Parkites and Old Towners, this place is also a regular to many River north residents and beyond.
The Pizza: For those looking for a Sports bar and healthy alternative to your typical pizza indulgence.
The pizza is excellent, but it’s not your typical authentic pizza. Ranalli’s has a different, lighter and rather healthier take on your traditional pizza. Rather than one that’s rich and oozing with cheese, these thin crusted delicious ‘flat bread’ like pizzas make you walk out feeling healthier and lighter than you usually would. I would call the pizzas here more ‘westernized’, mainly because of the style in which it’s made and the basic ingredients. My recommendation would be the BBQ Chicken (too good, thin and delicious) Bacon & Potato hand tossed and the Prosciutto & Arugula hand tossed. Note that they prefer to use Parmesano cheese instead of mozzarella, which is a nice break from the gooey cheese and rather a dryer but tastier dough.