Neapolitan pizzas challenge 'deep dish' rep

January 28, 2009 10:43:48 AM PST
A number of thin-crust pizza joints are challenging Chicago's reputation as a deep dish kind of town. They're called Neapolitan-style pizzas and are the result of wood-burning, brick ovens. The ingredients include good flour, great tomatoes, and always, fresh mozzarella, used sparingly. The latest addition to the thin crust landscape is in Andersonville, where a great oven and a classic recipe make a delicious combination.

True Neapolitan-style pizza comes from Naples, of course. But in Andersonville, at the relatively new Antica Pizzeria, the man behind the recipes is actually from Sicily. He says the difference is in the oven temperature.

"In Naples they turn the oven 1000 degrees, which means they make the pizza in less than 35-40 seconds. My pizza is Italian Neapolitan style pizza with different temperature, which is 750-800 degrees," said Mario Rapisarda, the chef at Antica Pizzeria.

First, the dough, one of the most crucial elements to any great pizza. Here, it's kneaded and stretched out to about a 12-inch diameter, nice and thin. Then, the ultra-fresh tomato sauce.

"To make a real Neapolitan-style pizza you have to use some tomatoes-coming from Italy and season just with the simple ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, basil, salt and pepper and a touch of oregano," said Rapisarda.

Finally, the cheese. He starts with cut-up fresh mozzarella.

"Now you can use two kinds of mozzarella. You can use buffalo milk mozzarella, which make the pizza a little bit more juicy and flavorful or you can use just the fresh mozzarella."

After that, they sprinkle on some parmiggiano reggiano and a little bit of olive oil. Into a hot oven, the pizza cooks in about two minutes, until the edges have a beautiful char and the center is cooked through.

One of their Sicilian specials is called the fattoressa - which could be mistaken for a breakfast pizza, a simple pizza with, a thin crust pizza, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, green peas, mushroom, Italian cooked ham, and hard-boiled eggs.

Bread is also baked in their brick oven. And, even pastas shine, such as a rigatoni with ground sausage, cremini mushrooms and a touch of cream.

But it's the thin crust pizza that continues to lure them in-- aided in no small part by their prized, brick and terra cotta oven.

"It makes a more flavor, the pizza smokey and nice and crispy," said Rapisarda.

You can get pizzas to go from Antica - and customers say they're not bad - but honestly, the only way to enjoy one of these Neapolitan-style pizzas is immediately after they've been pulled out of the oven.

Antica Pizzeria
5663 N. Clark St.

773-944-1492


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