Friday, November 20, 2009

Pizzeria Nella


We were fortunate enough to be invited to a pre-opening party at Pizzeria Nella last night. The noise level in the place is either energetic if you are in a lively mood or too loud if you are trying to have a serious conversation. Could have been the crowd but more likely than not it is the open room design, multiple TV screens, piped in music and lack of any fabric anywhere contributing to the noise level.

It's a very pleasing looking space with large pictures of Nella working pizza dough balls into shape across the north wall. A large bar with two TV monitors above frames the south wall. In the southeast corner is the volcanic stone oven and pizza prep station. A well placed and well lit mirror above the station allows diners from almost any point in the dining room to check in on the pizza making action.

The food was very good. Antipasti were exactly as they are intended to be - very appetizing and a nice prelude to the pizza. The warm melanzane (eggplant) had deep, rich flavors of tomato and garlic without overpowering the delicate flavor of the eggplant. An Insalata di Mare (seafood salad) was light and cool with flavors of the sea. A Caprese Salad featured silky smooth coins of mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella) large fresh basil leaves and red-ripe tomato halves. The marinated salmon was tender and moist, albeit just a bit fishy.

On to the main star, the pizza. Moderately thin crust dough - soft and crisp at the same time with great flavor. This is Neapolitan Pizza - not cracker thin dough if you are used to that so don't expect it. The edges have some crispness and dark patches from the oven but as you near the center of the pizza the dough is floppy and moist.

The toppings are fresh and of high quality - the prosciutto had all of the expected nuttiness and was not overly salty as many prosciuttos can be. The rucola (arugula) was tender and with a nice peppery bite.

A must is the stuffed pizza - the Vesuvio - a marvelous volcanic shaped pizza with top and bottom crust and a smudge of tomato sauce in the center that resembles hot flowing lava. The filling included mushrooms, prosciutto cotto (ham) and more - well worth the $17.99 price as it easily feeds two.

All in all this place is sure to be a hit. We’ll be back and are quite willing to pay for our next meal there.

(Note: these photos were cut and pasted from their website and are the same shots shown on the restaurant wall.)

2423 N. Clark
Chicago, IL 60614

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