Ravenswood is one of my favorite streets in Chicago. Starting around Irving Park, large, old industrial buildings line the street heading north. And inside those buildings, an array of unique tenants have made themselves homes: Story Studio (one of my personal favs); Architectural Artifacts (an amazing spot for an event or to just get lost browsing); furniture and gift stores; and a variety of fitness, martial arts, pilates, and dance studios. Additionally along this stretch is a restaurant the hubby and I have been meaning to try for some time now, Spacca Napoli Pizzeria.
The night we finally made it to Spacca Napoli was hot (you know, like every day the past few weeks) and therefore energy sucking. We were in the mood for something casual and calm. When we walked into Spacca Napoli (after easily parking the car in one of the many available spots on Ravenswood – win!), we were immediately welcomed by the authentic pizzeria feel of the space, the hostess, who I later learned was the daughter of the owner (I love family owned and operated businesses...so much heart and soul), and the inviting aroma of the pizza oven, built by Napoli artisans.
But let's get to the point, shall we? The pizza at Spacca Napoli is spectacular. The restaurant claims that its pizza is "faithful to the authentic Neapolitan style" of pizza, and as each bite transported the hubby and me back to an Italian vacation several years ago, I have to say it's pretty spot on. Most of the pizzas are simple, in the way the best Italian food is wonderfully simple, allowing the purity of each delicious ingredient to shine through. We ordered the mushroom pizza. The basil burst with tingly herbiness. The judiciously spread red sauce was subtly sweet. The mozzarella had personality, as opposed to the rubbery, flavorless substance so often used on pizzas. The mushrooms were juicy and earthy. And the crust. Oh the crust. It was thin, but not too thin, with the ideal amount of doughy chew. I imagine it was made with a simple combination of flour, water, yeast, and salt, maybe a touch of sugar and/or olive oil, and then treated with loving tenderness as it was kneaded, left to rise, and ultimately cooked to perfection in the custom-built oven.
While I typically try to avoid white, refined carbohydrates, well-executed Italian pizza is, for me, an unquestionably “worth it” splurge. And the fact of the matter is, since we shared the pizza, it was only a minor splurge. Yes, a wheat crust would be healthier, but the health gods also give points for the fact that there was no butter or olive oil brushed onto the crust prior to serving (I hate, hate, hate it when restaurants do that) and that the mozzarella was so flavorful only a little needed to be used. Now, the tartufo, a heavenly combination of chocolate mousse gelato surrounding a bite of sabayon and served with crushed hazelnuts and sprinkled cocoa powder, was a whole different story. That was a splurge. I’d do it again.
And while we’re discussing splurges, we (okay I) may have also splurged on the wine. Spacca Napoli has such a great wine list of reasonably priced and unique regional specialties, that I could not resist. Fortunately, the hubby was driving.
Try Spacca Napoli at 1769 W. Sunnyside Ave. (on the corner of Sunnyside Ave. and Ravenswood Ave.).