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River North pizza by the slice taste test (long)


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River North pizza by the slice taste test (long)

Rich4 | Feb 19, 2004 02:07 PM

Encouraged by John M’s recent review of the new “Delicious” (see link below) I decided to try a slice from both “Delicious” and Rizzata’s for lunch today.

“Delicious,” I refer to in quotes so as not to confuse us with the adjective, looks like it was recently re-done in new, modern décor in bright red and white. They have a menu of sandwiches as well as a salad bar, but I only tried the pizza. Pizza by the slice, means ¼ of a 12” pie, with a choice of pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, spinach or plain, all thin-crust. The center of the pie looked good, with nicely browned and not too much cheese on top of the sauce, allowing the sauce to thicken some in cooking. But I knew there was a problem right away when I saw the crust: that flat, hard, cracker which I knew could not impart any of the taste of the sauce, and had no bread quality of its own. The bread-cracker crust did indeed harden all the way at the bottom of the pizza. The pizza might as well have been baked on cardboard. The cheese did taste fresh, though I could not taste much sauce at all. “Delicious” is definitely not. “Nice Décor” or “Mediocre Pizza” would have been better names for the place.

Rizzata’s I have been to before but wanted a head-to-head comparison with “Delicious.” They were more crowded, and specialized in pizzas, thin and thick, as well as pasta specials. They had two thin sliced pizzas available, sausage and plain. I tried the plain, which was an equally large slice as “Delicious” for $2.75, which was thoughtfully cut in half when served. There was noticeably too much cheese on the pizza, which suffocated the sauce and made for a watery strata of sauce between the relative gobs of melted cheese and indestructibly hard bread cracker crust. Cheese and sauce (what there was of it) tasted fine, but there was far too much flour in the crust, which did not bake to take in the flavors of the pizza. It was a hard weapon of a crust, rather than soft and tasty enough to be joyfully ripped apart and folded over.

The layout of Rizzata’s allowed me to get a good look at the equipment and the operation. Their one large oven bakes both the thin crust and Chicago style pizzas, as well as pasta dishes. There are several trays inside the oven that are rotated around like a rotisserie. This is in stark contrast to the East where pizza ovens are mostly large metal ovens with a single tray and I suspect much hotter. The pizza is baked closer to the heat source, and the crust browns as well as the cheese. I recognize that Rizzata’s has no choice since they are also serving slices of Chicago-style pizza that would burn in an East Coast pizza oven.

Also different is the dough that goes into making the crust. No where did I see a bowl of pre-risen dough for the pizza makers to take a chuck out of, roll it on the table, and spin it in the air. How could you get any bubbles in the crust without yeast and pre-risen dough? You want the dough to react and brown along with the pizza instead of hunkering down and hardening into tasteless cardboard. It appears that Rizzata’s uses the same dough for both thin and thick pizzas, which is understandable given the physical limitations of having to hold together a pool of cheese for Chicago-style, but is truly a shame for thin crust pizza.

Still looking for real pizza,

308 W Erie (between Franklin and Orleans)

300 W Grand (between Franklin and Orleans)


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