Lazza taking old world approach to pizza and gelato

October 6, 2012 (CHICAGO)

There are hints of Italian authenticity, in the form of tiny earthenware crocks filled with spinach-and-cheese-stuffed eggplant, or crunchy, vibrant rapini and homemade sausage. But regulars know to come here for the pizza, which is proudly fired in a wood-burning oven which renders the dough crisp and adequately charred.

"It cooks so fast, the dough, in a minute-and-a-half at 700 degrees..and it makes the flavor different from others," said Fabrizio Lazzara, co-owner of Lazza.

The most basic is the margherita, which begins with homemade dough that is stretched by hand. Fresh tomato sauce is applied carefully, in concentric circles, while the fresh mozzarella is liberally sprinkled over the entire diameter. Then it's into the hot oven, where the pizza is literally baked in less than two minutes.

Once the pie is removed from the oven, it gets an obligatory garnish of fresh basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. That's it. Best bet is to eat it in-house, rather than take it to go.

"That's how we grow up to see pizza; we grow up with the margherita, that was our everyday thing," Lazzara said.

As for the gelato, Lazzara prides himself on fresh ingredients, making batches throughout the day, every day. You'll see the usual signposts - nocciola, or hazelnut.. chocolate.. strawberry and of course, fiore di latte, the vanilla base for most flavors. But you'll also spot cappuccino and even sangria flavors. Lazzara says his product is smooth, creamy and authentically Italian.

"Less air than ice cream. Very fresh, very soft," he said.

One could argue there are more important or significant dishes in the Italian repertoire, but in this neighborhood at least it's pizza and gelato. Both of which are in ample supply here at Lazza.

Those gelato flavors will rotate on occasion.

The restaurant also offers traditional dishes like arancini and panzerotti.

Lazza Pizza & Gelato
7701 W. Lawrence Ave., Norridge
(708) 395-5686

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