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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Trattoria Roma [Meeting #44]

Trattoria Roma
1535 N. Wells St. (GoogleMaps)
(312) 664-7907

CPC invaded Trattoria Roma on 8/06/07.

The Pizza Club had gone dark for nearly a month when an email went out on August 5, 2007 announcing a meeting the very next night at Trattoria Roma. Pizza Clubbers responded well and an official meeting convened on a rainy Monday evening in Old Town.

Trattoria Roma came highly recommended by the website, 10best.com, which listed it among the top 10 pizza restaurants in Chicago. After the Pizza Club meeting was over, I cannot disagree with that assessment – the place definitely did not disappoint.

Trattoria Roma is a small, crowded restaurant that would probably bring back memories of a neighborhood restaurant in Rome if I had ever been to such a place. The one time I was in Rome, I spent most of my limited budget on gelato and museums/ruins, and I visited no residential neighborhoods aside from the one where the youth hostel was located. I digress.

The restaurant had our table waiting and upon being seated, we noticed pizzas on a nearby table and decided we would have to get one pizza per person as each pie is about 9 inches across. We got a Margherita, a Quattro Formaggi (blue, swiss, mascarpone and mozzarella), a Pizza della Casa (sausage, onion and mascarpone), and 2 Quattro Stagione (prosciutto, artichoke, mushroom, olive and egg). We also had a couple of bottles of tasty red wine (all wine is half price on Mondays and Tuesdays).

All pizzas are on a delicious thin crust. As cooky-monster states in the notes, the crust is thicker than traditional gourmet pizzas. Given the flavorful toppings, the extra dough in the crust creates a nice balance.

The Margherita was unlike any margherita pizza that any of the members had ever had. It tasted like a cheese pizza. It was good; it just wasn’t a margherita – too much cheese. As we would soon find out, the pizza chef loves cheese.

We ordered two Quattro Stagiones because we wanted to make sure that people got to try more than one topping. A quattro stagione, Italian for four seasons, typically is divided into quarters with each quarter having a single different topping. Trattoria Roma’s version had five toppings and they were all mixed together. That the egg was raw was a pit of a surprise, but good ingredients, good cheese, and a good crust made a delicious pizza.

I thought the Quattro Formaggi was excellent, but the combination of the chef’s love of quantities of cheese and the fact that two of the four cheeses (blue and mascarpone) are particularly heavy, made the pizza a challenge for some to enjoy. Personally, I share the chef’s apparent belief that there really is no such thing as too much cheese.

The Pizza della Casa was Trattoria Roma at its peak. The dollops of moscarpone balanced the delicious sausage and an outstanding crust ably supported the flavorful combination. I really liked all of the pizzas, but I thought this one was unquestionably the best.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of pizza at Trattoria Roma. I am predisposed to assuming the worst about Old Town restaurants, but since this place predates the Disnefication of the neighborhood, I should have held no such bias. Regardless, the service was good, the pizza was excellent (a new addition to my personal list of top pies in the city), and the prices were right (about $10 each). I will return again soon and hopefully get to taste some of the ricotta cheesecake made by the owner's grandmother (in very limited quantities).

Petey gives Trattoria Roma a 7.7/10.

Quattro Stagione

Pizza della Casa

Some stragglers...

A sad sight...

Where it went down...

Trattoria Roma on Urbanspoon


  1. I had the pizza at Trattoria Roma about 2 weeks ago and have put it on my list of top 5 chicago pizza spots. It's easily number 1 on my Old Town/Gold Coast pizza list.

    The style of pizza is more of the individual-size, gourmet variety rather than the family style or delivery type, and the cost, I believe, is about $12-$15.

    What sets TR's pizza apart from the many other restaurant's preparing the same style of pizza is their fresh flavorful crust. It seems thicker than appropriate at first bite - the crust is approximately twice as thick as a lot of gourmet crusts. Actually, it's body compliments the flavor of the dough and is proportioned well against the toppings. None of the individual flavor components overwhelmed the others and, if you think about it, with gourmet pizza and otherwise that doesn't often happen.

    I enjoyed the arugula and prosciutto pizza. The prosciutto was on point - salty and slightly sweet. The arugula, topped raw and dressed in vinaigrette, was very fresh and peppery. The pizza also comes with onions which was requested cooked rather than topped raw. I will definitely have this pizza again, and soon, but I will also opt for less or perhaps no dressing on the arugula.

    This is a really good dining experience if you want an intimate night out and some high-quality pizza. I'd also suggest going at a less busy time, as rumor has it that service quality goes down dramatically as customers increase.

  2. This place was good, but used an excessive amount of cheese on the pizzas we ordered. I remember being seriously worried later on that night about whether I had developed lactose intolerance from eating there. The setting was nice and the wait staff was very helpful, and I think there was even a special on wine when we were there, so overall this is an above-average pizza place with fresh ingredients and a heavy reliance on over-cheesing. 6.5/10