This is the blog and public record of the Chicago Pizza Club. We eat a lot of pizza and share our thoughts on it as well as post any relevant pizza news we come across.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pizza Rustica [Meeting #52]

Pizza Rustica
3913 N. Sheridan Rd (GoogleMaps)
(773) 404-8955

CPC invaded Pizza Rustica on 2/21/08.

Pizza Rustica is a BYOB spot on Sheridan Road just south of Irving Park, mere steps from the Sheridan Red Line stop. We arrived on a bitterly cold evening to find that we were not the only ones brave enough to face the elements in order to go to out for these pies.

We began with two of the finest bottles of red wine, which the waitress immediately opened for us. She then brought glasses to those who wanted them (though she neglected to tell us that each glass came with a $1.50 corkage fee - no biggy). The pizza clubbers were hungry and set to the task of selecting pizzas. Pizza Rustica offers 8 different specialty pizzas, so we did not even consider coming up with our own combinations. There were only five of us, but we decided to go for three pizzas. We quickly settled on Tutta Pizza ~ Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushroom, Onion, Black Olives & Bleu Cheese, as well as the Quattro Stagioni ~ Tomatoes, Artichoke, Mushrooms & Ham. The woman suggested Verdure Grigliate ~ Roasted Peppers, Zucchini & Mushrooms. The men initially humored her before suggesting Patate Rosmarino ~ Thinly Sliced Potatoes Seasoned with Rosemary, which is what we ultimately went with, a decision some would come to regret.

The ambience at Pizza Rustica is fairly cozy. There is a second room, but it was empty the night we visited. The tables were somewhat packed in, but they didn't seem to close together. Of course, we were outside of the main dining area so it's hard to be sure. Anyhow, there was nothing particularly memorable about the place other than the rather nifty oven which is out for all to see (pictured below).

About thirty minutes after we ordered, three hot pizzas were delivered to our table. The crust on the pies was a new one for me. It was almost like a thin (about 1/3 inch), slightly compressed focaccia. Very tasty, but with a mild enough flavor that it served its purpose of complementing the toppings. None of the pizzas had much sauce. Normally, that would be a big strike against it. In this case, it really didn't detract from the pizza. The crust, cheese and toppings were all so flavorful, that sauce wasn't necessary.

About the toppings. The Tutta Pizza was my personal favorite. I would have liked a little more bleu cheese as many bites had none, but I can understand why they skimp on it as that's such a strong flavor and nobody wants it to overwhelm the rest of the pie. The Quattro Stagioni was also excellent. Of particular note were the tomatoes. How Pizza Rustica got such flavorful tomatoes in Chicago in February is a testament to either some impressive connections, recent developments in hot house gardening technology, or dumb luck. In any event, everyone at the table seemed to love both of those pizzas.

The potato and rosemary pizza got a mixed review. Some actively disliked both the flavor and the undercooked potatoes on their pieces. My pizzas had only well-cooked potatoes and I really liked the simplicity of the potato and the rosemary (a lot of rosemary).

All in all, I was very happy with Pizza Rustica and I will definitely return there again, particularly in the summer when outdoor seating is available.

In other news, it has come to my attention that Big Cheese Pizza, home of Chicago Pizza Club meeting #36, has gone out of business. A moment of silence for the best chocolate calzones any of us have ever had.

Ambience to spare...

The oven!

Half and half...

Tutta Pizza ~ Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushroom, Onion, Black Olives & Bleu Cheese

Better grab that pizza fast...

Where it went down...

Pizza Rustica on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pizza Capri [Meeting #51]

Pizza Capri
1733 N. Halsted St. (GoogleMaps)
(312) 280-5700

CPC invaded Pizza Capri on 2/04/08.

In college I basically tried every thing on Pizza Capri's menu multiple times. In Hyde Park, I was limited to a few restaurants that delivered to me when I didn't feel like losing my parking spot or walking in the ubiquitous Arctic wind blast. Looking back, I had Caffe Florian available to me as well, but when I wanted thin crust I usually went with my old standby.

So here I am, driving past a Pizza Capri every day on my way to and from work. I definitely had enough of it in college to last me a few lifetimes, but I decided that there must have been a reason I ate it so much in the first place.

  • small rosemary, potato, and chicken pizza
  • small shroom pizza, portabella, crimini, and shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 cheese pizza with tomato and basil
  • deep dish with spinach, Canadian bacon
The order took 31 minutes to present itself to us. We had plenty of time to admire the nice, empty restaurant that we had all to ourselves except for a steady stream of take-out customers. Additionally, the restaurant is BYOB - a bonus for those of us who desire to not drink macrocrap with our pizza. The bill came out to $14 apiece; very affordable. I must say that I was happy with the pizza overall. True, I really don't care for these designer pizzas which try to present a whole meal on a crust, but they weren't horrible. Their basic pizzas such as the four cheese were actually quite good. The deep dish here was a little soggy for my tastes and has an underwhelming flavor profile, but its passable.

The Four Cheese Pizza


Rosemary, Potato and Chicken

Stuffed Spinach and Canadian Bacon

Mmm... Pizza...

Where it went down...

Pizza Capri on Urbanspoon