At Ferentino's Pizzeria, the keystone of the menu isn't pizza, but something more basic: bread. Homemade garlic focaccia bread, to be precise. This expertly seasoned mainstay provides the groundwork for many of the restaurant's dishes, acting as a side for pasta entrees—whose noodles and sauces are made fresh daily—and as a foundation for grilled panino sandwiches. Of course, pizzas aren't an afterthought, either. Guests can order pies in one of four styles: thin, deep-dish, stuffed, or Roma, which decorates that same focaccia bread in cheese, toppings, and a to-scale seating chart of the Coliseum. Seven specialty pizzas, such as the buffalo chicken ranch or the feta- and spinach-dressed Mediterranean, arrive with predetermined fixings. For those who prefer the comforting glow of their own oven, chefs also compose "Take and Bake" pizzas to be cooked at home.
Across its three locations, Donati's Pizza aims to blend the best of New York?style and Chicago-style pizzerias. Folks can hunker down in the dining room for impossibly thick deep-dish pies that clock in at nearly 2 inches, which is a necessity considering the full pound of cheese that tops each one. And for a taste of Big Apple convenience, the shop slings everything from thin-crust to gluten-free pizzas by the slice?New York's one and only contribution to pizza. And with more than 30 toppings, including feta cheese, italian beef, and fresh basil, guests can customize their pizzas with gusto.
For Mark Greenbaum and his father, Lewis, sharing a pizza meant spending quality time as a family. When his father passed away, Mark decided that the best way to honor his memory was to give Chicagoans a taste of the New York–style pie he had loved so much.
Mark’s venture proved wildly successful—Time Out Chicago columnist and Brooklyn transplant Judy Sutton Taylor swears the eatery “could hold its own alongside any Brooklyn pizzeria.” Aside from the traditional thin-crust pies, the menu at New York Slices also features a specialty Grandma’s pizza with a thicker crust and hand-embroidered pepperonis.
At Trattoria Valle D’Itria, chef Giovanni calls upon a brick oven and an armory of fresh ingredients to bring to life the culinary traditions of the sun-soaked Itria Valley. Diners draw in deep breaths loaded with the aromas of sweet polenta, chicken stuffed with mushrooms, and gnocchi cloaked in vodka-cream sauce. Cooks roll sheets of dough, which they trim into myriad fresh pastas bound for steaming pots and the desk of alphabet-soup editors. Warm lighting romps across dark wooden accents in the restaurant's interior, and umbrellas shelter patrons as they dine and people watch in sidewalk seating.
At Moccio's Pizzeria, chefs tuck toppings into the tall, chewy ring of a Chicago-style deep-dish crust. The names of house specialties honor local streets and neighborhoods, such as the Northside pizza and the Taylor Street pie, topped with italian beef and giardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables. Dough whisperers in the kitchen toss pies to a thin, crispy crunch or stuff a layer of molten mozzarella into the crust. Delivery drivers ferry pies to doorsteps faster than a clown car spinning off a banana peel, and chefs also satiate group pizza cravings with catering services.
Family owned since 1932, Alex's Washington Gardens serves a varied menu of sophisticated cuisine, starring fresh seafood and Italian specialties. Amphibious feasters can start with an appetizer of frog legs ($11) before diving into deep-sea delicacies such as salmon stimpinada, which is bathed in citrus, white wine, and red-wine vinegar and sautéed with celery and onion ($25). Hop aboard the from-scratch gravy train with saucy specialties such as pasta primavera, which tempts veggie lovers with a seasonal spread tossed in alfredo or marinara ($18.50), and ravioli al forno, which dresses spinach- and cheese-filled pasta in a demurely delicious ensemble of butter, garlic, and parmesan ($15.50/$10.25). Other offerings include pork chops served Sicilian style with a family of sweet peppers, garlic, and roasted potatoes ($23) and a variety of popular pizzas ($15+).