…having admittedly never traveled to Naples but a seeker of great Pizzas both in Chicago and in a number of cities around the United States, many of which have been named to any number of “Best Pizza in the America” lists, it was with great interest that lunch would lead us to Spacca Napoli – the only Vera Pizza Napoletana certified restaurant in a city overflowing with great pizza. Owned and operated by Pizzaiuolo Jon Goldsmith and his family and reportedly designed to not only recreate the pizza of Southern Italy, but also their traditions and hospitality Spacca had long been on my list and with mother and aunt in tow after a long afternoon in Oak Park it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Having heard from others that since the expansion Spacca Napoli was vastly more accessible than it once was but waits could still be long due to the single oven our arrival at 2:00pm proved to be quite opportune as free parking proved abundant in the Ravenswood area and lunch service was just winding down as we arrived. With the air a bit warm and the patio umbrellas shading a few leftover patrons we made our way into the restaurant to the lovely smells of yeast and tomatoes and greeted by our hostess/server/busser Rachelle we were led to a small four-top in the middle of the surprisingly empty dining room.
With menus presented and a wine list deferred Rachelle next proceeded to explain the daily specials and after a few quick questions waters were filled and we were left to our decisions eventually settling for two pizzas and two Italian sodas – one Aronciata and one Limonata, both bubbly and subtle without being overly sweet.
With the oven belonging only to us it would be a mere ten minutes before our pizzas would arrive and sticking to the “less is more” approach both were lightly dressed and invariable delcious. Beginning first with the “Funghi” featuring Fior di Latte Mozzarella, Basil, and Mushrooms the cheese was as mild as one would expect from fresh cow’s milk mozzarella while the sauce was lightly sweeted with just touch of acid and spice that complimented the mushroom’s earthy finish nicely. While the toppings were good, however, where this pie really shined was in the crust – a light and supple yet slightly crisp and toasty ring of smoky flavor that remained slightly undercooked in the middle; about as authentic as it gets.
Moving next to our second pizza, this one slightly more irregularly shaped with great pockets of air in the yeasty dough, the Bufalina – with Basil, Mozzarella di Bufala, and Olive Oil would prove even better than the Funghi for one simple reason – that ever so subtle funk from the intensely creamy cheese and the manner in which it so nicely blended with a thin pour of grassy olive oil. As I noted above, I can’t claim I’ve ever been to
With pizzas mostly consumed and the rest packed up to go Rachelle would next appear with dessert menus and although tempting I had plans to visit Black Dog Gelato next and deferred while the ladies opted to try two selections, the first a rather flavorless but appropriately silky Panna Cotta served with a substantially more tasty pear-balsamic compote and the second a creamy block of house made spumoni complete with pistachio, rum, strawberry and chocolate ice creams plus a whipped cream and candied fruit center that although tasty in parts did not work for me in its entirety due to the subpar chocolate ice cream and overpowering notes of rum.
In and out in under an hour I will note that while it may be unfair to judge our service considering the one-to-one server-to-table ratio I found Rachelle to be both friendly and knowledgeable as she manned everything but the pizza oven and although the space admittedly feels a lot more commercial/casual than New York or Philadelphia’s most well regarded pizzerias the pies themselves were absolutely genuine and delicious. As for the desserts – well – most of the “Best Pizza in