Pizza Pizza

Chicago’s Neapolitan Pizza Invasion

Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

The specifics of Neapolitan pizzas are “subject to much Talmudic debate,” writes Michael Idov in New York Magazine this week. But there are a few rules that all aspiring Neapolitan pizzas must follow: A twelve-inch round pie, often unsliced; a thin, soft, and chewy crust; bubbles on the rim; simple but quality sauces; a modest amount of mozzarella di bufala; and a few stingy drops of olive oil. Though New York is seeing many new Neapolitan shops, it’s not the only city turning away from the familiar gloppy sauce and slithering cheese — Chicago has been having its own pizza revolution lately, with new thin-crust shops popping up seemingly on a monthly basis. Keep reading for our thoughts on some of the best practitioners of the Neapolitan pie in town.

• The local champ for a true D.O.C. pie, Spacca Napoli (named after a famous market in Naples) is the standard to which all others are held. They blast their oven as high as 1,200 degrees for the ideal flash-cooked crust.

Coalfire is named for the restaurant’s — you guessed it — coal-fueled oven, which reaches temperatures of such intensity that the pies’ crusts achieve that elusive, perfect char-to-chewy ratio.

• Whether or not the pie at Great Lake is truly authentic is a matter for debate: eschewing rigid D.O.C. requirements, the owners blithely do their own thing ingredient-wise. But it’s unarguable that they’ve thrown a game-changing wrench into the works of Chicago’s pizza scene.

La Madia: proving that not all authentic pizzas need to be served in rustic rooms to an accordion accompaniment.

• Run by a Spiaggia vet, Antica Pizzeria produces crusts so ideally thin they nearly collapse under the weight of their top-notch toppings.

• With “Napoli” right there in the name, you know the pies at Sapore di Napoli will deliver. And they do — a fiery oven and a commitment to authenticity means a reliably transporting margherita.

• It’s the pizza oven at Follia that keeps everyone coming back, despite the restaurant’s glossy decor. Crispy where they should be, chewy where they should be, the pies here are truly Italian.

• The pizzaiolos at Macello turn out a reliably flavorful rendition of a classic Neapolitan pie that’s salty, sweet, and spiked with basil.

Chicago’s Neapolitan Pizza Invasion