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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Caffe Florian [Meeting #28]

Caffe Florian
1450 E. 57th Street (Google Maps)

CPC invaded Caffe Florian on 3/29/06

Caffe Florian is one of many restaurants in Hyde Park that make pizza. During orientation at the U of C you quickly become familiar with The Medici, Caffe Florian, Pizza Capri, and Edwardo's since every function you attend has pizza from all of these places. Surprisingly, the university neglects to provide its students with Cholie's Pizza, but that's a different story. There are three reactions to the pizza offerings at these meetings. You can be (1) a rube and declare how delicious it all was compared to the standards (Pizza Hut and Domino's), (2) from Chicago and feel disheartened that Hyde Park doesn't contain good pizza, or (3) an East Coast snob and hate the pizza because it wasn't made in New York and OMFG, did you realize we're not in New York anymore???

Eventually you come to realize a few things

  • Cholie's is bad in a good way; the adjacent Falcon Inn is just bad
  • The pizza wasn't so bad, it was just laying in cardboard boxes for half an hour before anyone touched it
  • On second thought, the Medici really is that bad. Just because they let you carve your name anywhere you want doesn't mean the overpriced pizza is any good.
Though Hyde Park residents are split on their favorite pizza, Caffe Florian always has supporters that endorse its crust as the only one in Hyde Park worth a damn. Plus, it is BYOB, a handy touch for the cheap, the discerning, and the underaged. We sat down at the big booth in the back and ordered the following pies:
  • Thin Crust, Pepperoni, Garlic, Onion
  • Pan (regular), Ham, Basil
  • Pan (wheat), the special Artichoke Pesto pizza
It was pretty empty on this Wednesday evening and the pizza came very quickly, in 22 minutes. Our waiter was quick and unobtrusive, a refreshing change from our recent experiences and I didn't mind giving him his 18% gratuity for parties of 6 or more. All the ingredients that were sliced (ham, garlic, onion) were finely diced. I appreciated this because it ensured a better flavor distribution even if there is less texture. The artichoke pesto pizza was still covered in tomato sauce and not just pesto. As I said earlier, Florian is BYOB and good thing. For 3 pizzas and 7 people, it came to $9.50 per person. For anyone in their delivery area, I remember that they include little packets of cheese, oregano, and red pepper flakes in their orders. Now that's service. It's also right next to the 57th street Electric Metra line if anyone is going home to the south suburbs and wants some pizza.

Petey gives Caffe Florian a score of 8.6

The pepperoni & garlic goes fast...

Ham & Basil

The last slice...

"Do you like Pizza? Yeah, me too"

Where it went down

Caffe Florian on Urbanspoon


  1. Well, as a former UofC student, I have been here many times. I think by my last few months in school I had finally come to appreciate this place as the best Hyde Park has to offer.

    All vegetables were fresh and they gave large artichoke portions, making me happy. The ham was really just diced deli ham, but it grooved well with the basil.

    The pepperoni pizza was quite garlic-laden and I applaud their bravery. People come here on dates, but it doesn't matter to Florian.

    The sauce is not sweet, but very fresh tasting without being acidic. It has a tanginess from the seasoning and was excellent. The crust, which I usually don't pay attention to, was great and my favorite part of the evening. You could eat the pan slices by hand because the crust wasn't soggy and bending. I couldn't really tell the difference between the wheat and regular crust but they were both awesome. Maybe I'll go back to college so I can walk to Caffe Florian.


  2. This place was awesome. After a mild string of misses this place came on strong. The sauce was very flavorful, without being overpowering at all, a nice subtle taste with good spices.

    The crusts were very good, if I had one complaint, it was that they could've used a bit more butter on them. But they were nice and crispy without being burnt, and they stayed that way without ever getting soggy as time wore on.

    The place had a nice college atomosphere too, the waiters/hostesses were really nice and even the bus boy was pretty cool

    I give the pizza here an 8

  3. The best attribute of theses pizzas was the crust. It is the best crust of any pizza club we have ever had. The crusts on the deep dish as well as thin crust were great. The thin crust was crispy with a still warm bread just above the base. The deep dish (especially the wheat crust) was outstanding.
    The ingredients were all super as well. The garlic pepperoni and onion was the best of these pizzas. This was a great thin crust. You could smell the garlic emanating from each slice.
    The ham and basil was pretty good. There was plenty of basil which gave the pizza a great flavor and smell. The ham looked like something out of an Oscar Meyer package and was diced up in decent size chunks. The sauce was not as sweet as some other places we’ve been to and was rich in tomato. Again, I can’t say enough about the crust.
    The artichoke pesto pizza was also excellent. I thought he artichokes were good but did taste a little sour, almost as if dipped in lemon prior to being placed on the pizza. I was the only one who did not like this very much, but the pizza was still great.
    Overall I give Café Florian a rating of 8 out of 10. Best crust we’ve ever had.

  4. whoa! my mind is blown! after the last 2 pizza club let downs, this place gave me and my gut new hope for the future of pizza!

    what can i say, all the pizzas were great. the suace was, for me, the perfect balance of sweet, garlic, and herb-y. Also, on both thin and deep dish varieties, the volume of sauce was just right. the toppings were fresh. artichokes didn't taste canned, though they might have been. but they at least didn't taste overly brined as canned artichokes often do. the crusts were top notch. i was especially suprised by the wheat crust which went well with the pesto and artichoke pizza.

    my only complaint was with the ham pizza. not really a complaint with florians, rather with the pizza clubbers who chose it as a topping. no offense, but diced ham just doesn't add that much flavor to the pizza. oh well. really not that much of a complaint since the ham pizza was still f-ing good.


  5. Caffe Florian is a crust lover's choice. If you like it crisp this is about as good as it gets. Both the pan and the thin crust were extra crispy without being the least bit burned. Every piece had crunch whether on the edge or in the middle. An excellent crust in concept and execution. As other members mentioned there wasn't much difference in taste between the wheat and regular crust but who cares? Both tasted great.

    I enjoyed both the pan and the thin, with a slight edge to the pan. I would recommend getting one of each if your party is large enough. If not, get the pan.

    Of the three pizzas we ordered my favorite was the pepperoni/onion/garlic simply because the ingredients were a great combination. The pepperoni was very thin sliced. It worked well for the thin crust but I wonder if it would have gotten lost in the sauce of the pan pizza. The ham/basil was good but I probably wouldn't order the diced ham again. Artichoke/pesto was an excellent vegetarian choice. Artichoke slices were large and tasty.

    The sauce at Caffe Florian was tasty and they give you a lot, especially on the pan pizza. Not particulary sweet or spicy, just fresh.

    And if you're still not convinced, Cafe Florian has nice decor, good service, and is BYOB. Now you're out of excuses so drive your lazy ass down to Hyde Park for some pizza.


  6. The pizza at Caffe Florian is great. I enjoyed it years ago while studying at U Chicago, but it was even better than I remembered. The crust of each pie was delicious. I don't usually demand stand-out crust from a pizza to enjoy it, so the fully developed flavor of the pan crusts and the crispness of the thin crust just made these pizzas all the more delectable. The sauce was a great balance of fresh tomato sweet goodness, garlic, and herbs.

    All three pizzas were great, but I liked the pan pizzas the best. I love artichokes and the artichoke pesto was a great triumph for this ingredient. The ham and basil pizza was good, but I agree with other reviewers that the diced ham was a bit weak and not coequal with the other ingredients. It was not what we expected when we ordered ham. Still a great pizza, though, because the sauce, crust, cheese, and basil got the job done.

    The thin crust with pepperoni/garlic/onion was great, especially the potent but not overwhelming garlic. I thought there was a bit too much cheese on the thin crust, but all of the ingredients worked well together and the amounts of everything else were right on.