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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Coalfire [Meeting #42]

1321 West Grand Ave
Tel: (312) 226-2625

CPC invaded Coalfire Wednesday, May 30

Bittersweet pizza memories will be associated with this meeting. We bid adieu (temporarily) to Michelle, Dave, Ryan, and shortly, to official CPC photohrapher Kelly. Luckily, I think finding this new pizzeria more than makes up for their departure.

Coalfire was so internet hot that it ran out of dough a few times right after its opening. LTH and Chicagoist and the papers all stoked the flames early on. It's pretty clear that there is a market for traditional pizza in this town since DOC and Spacca Napoli are always hopping. Coalfire bills itself as a Massachusetts cum Italian style cooked with a coal oven. The oven is no artwork like what you'll find at Spacca Napoli, but it gets pretty damn hot just the same.

We ordered essentially every pizza on the menu. Size-wise, unless you're really hungry most people will have some leftover with each pizza. They're perfect for sharing with one person and still leaving room for an appetizer. Our pizzas started rolling in as they were coming out of the oven; 20 minutes after our order was placed.

Speaking in generalities, the ingredients were all fresh - no cans here except for those involved in the sauce. Bari Foods supposedly contributes to the meat toppings, a positive sign. Ingredient distribution is even on all pies. None of that business where all the toppings are on one quarter of the pizza and the rest is bare. What most people have been talking about, deservedly, is the crust. It's what makes this place a destination. The edges are burnt and sooty, the inside is soft and chewy but never soggy. It's also quite consistent. We ordered 10 pizzas and all were perfectly cooked.

Briefly, the service is quick and economical. Not much rest for a busy staff and they were able to accommodate our request for a 12 person table despite what I'm sure was an inconvenience to them on a busy weeknight. Our order had no mistakes and our water glasses were full.

To our departing CPC members, fare thee well. I'm just glad I still live in Chicago and only 2 blocks away from this place. Don't feel bad guys, I'm sure you'll find great pizza in Ohio and Miami too.

Petey gives Coalfire a score of 7.325/10.

Holy Basil!

The Pizza Club does anchovies...

Coal Fire cooked goodness

Don't let the burnt crust scare you

Coalfire on Urbanspoon


  1. I enjoyed this place. The style of pizza they served was closer in spirit to Spacca Napoli and Pizza D.O.C. than to traditional Chicago pizza like Pizza Uno or Pequod's. While their toppings didn't seem to be as fresh as Spacca Napoli, they were still tasty, and unlike Spacca their pizza's were evenly cooked throughout. We think this had something to do with the coalfire oven used at this place.

    I give this place a solid 8

  2. Interesting...

    I don't usually go for this style but I have really enjoyed this place so far. I have ordered a few times post CPC meeting.

    The sauce has been the big stand-out for me even though it's scarce. It's obviously fresh and has enough zing to it that I don't mind their vegetarian pizzas. In fact, i think the 4 cheese was probably my favorite. I like it over Spacca Napoli and DOC.


  3. I've had this pizza a few times since our initial outing, and it is consistently good. For this style, I would give a slight edge to Spacca Napoli because the fresh taste of their ingredients just knocks me out. However, no one beats Coalfire's crust. I'm not a crust-centric person, but Coalfire gets it perfectly chewy, with just the right level of flavor and moisture. I liked the margherita the best, though it would be an even bigger stand-out with truly first-rate mozzarella (though their mozzarella is still fresher and better than most places). I got the margherita with a little red onion one time and that was also quite good.


  4. I guess I just do not yet understand the appeal of neapolitan pizza. Every time it arrives at the the table I think I must be at an italian food ration depot. Everything would make a lot more sense if they started serving it with Tang in a wine glass.

    I give it a confused 5.