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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Orvieto Pizzeria And Wine Bar [Meeting #94]

Orvieto Pizzeria and Wine Bar
2200 N. Ashland Ave (GoogleMaps)
Chicago, IL
(773) 395-0066

CPC invaded Orvieto Pizzeria and Wine Bar on 3/30/10.

Continuing a small trend of visits to pizzerias using gas ovens, we headed to the relatively new Orvieto Pizzeria which opened in November of last year. Housed in the same space as Green Dolphin Street, a jazz club, Orvieto Pizzeria and Wine Bar occupies the eastern half of the building. The interior is somewhat confusing; there is a sleek looking kitchen producing great food that clashes with a large number of flat screen HDTVs set out in a bar-like atmosphere. I found myself enjoying this contrasting decor, but then again, I would rather watch sports than talk to my friends. I'm not sure if it's a date spot or a place to come watch the MMA fight.

The chef, Nino Coronas, is from Sardegna (Sardinia), an island off the mainland of Italy. Orvieto represents his first American turn as executive chef. He worked at both Pizzeria D.O.C. (review)and Trattoria D.O.C. prior to their sale. Coronas calls his pizza just regular Italian thin crust pizza and noted that he credits his crisp crust to his cooking technique and use of 00 pizza flour. He has settled on my favorite sandwich shop, Bari Foods, which is also an Italian grocery store with a nice meat section, to provide his sausage. Being that Sardegna is an island, one might expect a multitude of seafood offerings at Orvieto. Seafood is indeed their specialty and Coronas told me that he plans on adding even more options in the summertime and plans on doing a seafood pizza as well.

It's a long trip from Italy to the Chicago. I would have packed socks and underwear, maybe a book; Nino brought his oven with him. The pizzas are cooked at 675 degrees in a Moretti Forni oven in their open kitchen. They have recently opened a North American branch and are headquartered here in Chicago. These ovens are gigantic, but there's no denying that they are attractive pieces of machinery. His 13-inch pizza cooks in here for 6 minutes before it's sliced and brought to the table.

We ordered the following pizza:

  • Rustica (sausage, onions, mozzarella, tomato sauce)
  • Calabrese (sopressata, tomato sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola, jalapeño)
  • Al Tartufo (white pizza, truffle oil, mushrooms, mozzarella, speck)
  • Patate e Rosemarino (yukon potatoes, rosemary, mozzarella)
  • Prosciutto Cotto e Funghi (prosciutto cotto, tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms)
The pizza came out quickly and we dove right in. I think it was fortunate that MCH was working with a new camera today because it gave the pizza a few minutes to cool just enough for the crust to firm up. My overall impressions were largely positive. The crust is a little bit chewy, but this is a small flaw in an otherwise great crust. It holds up well, has a touch of salt in it, and had a very good texture. The only drawback was that the tomato sauce on the red pies overwhelmed the crust a bit, particularly the sausage pizza. I think most of us found the Calabrese to be the big winner of the night. The fresh jalapeño accented what was already a good pizza. The Bari sausage was, as expected, an excellent mild sausage. From a prior trip, I can say that I enjoyed the pasta and would certainly come back here just for the pasta and meat dishes. Orvieto has wine and pizza specials depending on the day; Monday is $5 10-inch pizza and Tuesday is half-priced Italian wine bottles. They also have all-you-can-eat pasta on Thursday, but unless you're running a marathon I found the regular portions to be more than adequate. On any given night, Orvieto is a good bet.

And now, I leave you with a few fun facts about Sardinia:
  1. There are proportionally more centenarians in Sardegna than anywhere else in the world. Must be the olive oil and ocean air.
  2. They speak Sard there. It's an amalgamation of all languages from civilizations that have inhabited the island.
  3. There is apparently a small island of miniature albino donkeys just off the coast of Sardinia. I'm not kidding.

Orvieta on Urbanspoon


  1. What a quickly posted review. Well done!

    I was a fan of the pizza tonight. My two favorites were the Calabrese and the Al Tartufo. The flavor combination on the Calabrese was outstanding. I would have liked the gorgonzola to be a little more distributed in a thin layer rather than the periodic dollops but that is a minor complaint. I really liked that pie. The Al Tartufo, with it's excellent speck and fresh mushrooms was a close second for me. I especially appreciated the restrained use of truffle oil.

    I thought the Rustica was pretty good. I appreciated the generous helping of sauce and liked the onions which were a touch sweet. Unfortunately for me, the sausage was sans fennel, so that knocked it down a little. The Prosciutto Cotto e Funghi was also a success even though I am not a big fan of ham.

    The Patate e Rosemarino did not work for me at all. Rosemary is a risky herb on pizza because it's so strong. That risk is exaggerated when I am the diner as I do not particularly like rosemary. Still, it was a well-executed pie, most notably as seen by the very thinly sliced potatoes.

    My only other complaint is that I thought the potato and prosciutto di cotto pizzas could have used another minute in the oven. I thought those two suffered the most from the chewiness mentioned in the review.

    Overall, I give Ovierto a very solid 7.

  2. I really enjoyed this crust, which is reminiscent of Great Lake (although I'm not claiming it's as good as that crust, which might be my favorite one ever). Still, the generous amount of tomato sauce overwhelmed the crust. I wonder if this is why Great Lake is so sparing with their sauce.

    I will continue to recommend the pasta courses here, because I thought they were great. Take advantage of their specials, they sound like a great deal.

    Orvieto's pizza is an 8.2 for me.

  3. Orvieto makes a nice pizza. Their crust is pretty great. It's thin but not too thin, chewy, crispy, can be a little flimsy depending what's on top, but not to the point that it's annoyingly sloppy.

    I enjoyed eating here, and found the ingredients to be of high quality. My favorite pizzas were the Calabrese and the Rustica. The sopresatta on the Calabrese was nice and crispy on the edges and combined with the jalapeno created some nice spice and a litle crunch. There was also some gorgonzola in there, not too much fortunately, but it added an interesting touch. I don't think it was necessary for the pizza to be a success, but it didn't detract. The Rustica is a standard topping combination, and it was simply delicious. The sausage tasted black peppery and the onions were thinly cut and on the sweeter side. Both of these pizzas had tomato sauce(mild and seemed to be crushed tomatoes and not too much else), and while I didn't find that there was too much sauce for my taste, maybe it did moisten the crust a tad causing some sag. No biggie. I must mention that while I really was looking forward to the Al Tartufo, it let me down. I found the speck to be extremely chewy and hard to tear. Maybe this is how it is supposed to be, and if so, then I think the pieces should be smaller. The potato pizza was good, although there seemed to be some mystery flavor in there. It grew on me though as I ate a few more slices reheated the next day.

    I would definitely return to Orvieto and order pizza and pasta. The gnocchetti? is very tempting. As El Prez mentioned, the atmosphere is a bit confusing, but comfortabe nonetheless.

    Orvieto gets an 8.

  4. Orvieto impressed me, and not only with its pizza. The location is great, the room pretty cool in spite of 20 plasma TVs -- (after all, there is a baby grand in the corner) -- and it's attached to the extraordinarily romantic Green Dolphin. I'm definitely returning for date night dinner and salsa dancing.

    And so, I was extra-excited to see that the pizza stood up to the task of complementing its surroundings. I thought that all five pizzas were exceptional. Of course, the calebrese and al tarfuto were my favorites. That said, I still think fondly of the ham on the procuitto cotto e funghi pizza, and of how nicely the sweetness of the onions complemented the sausage on the rustica. But, yikes! were the calebrese and al turfuto great. I love my tomato sauce, and so often am not a fan of white pizza; but the quality of the toppings on the al turfuto had me completely forgetting the red sauce. I loved the speck, even with its uneven texture, and the light drizzle of truffle oil didn't overpower the dish (as it otherwise tends to do). The calebrese was also pretty much perfect. There wasn't gorgonzola in every bite; but you wouldn't want there to be: it added just the right amount of salt, while the jalepeno gave the calebrese the perfect spice.

    I give Orvieto an 8.5.