Roman-style pizza, pinsa, gains following at L'Aventino Forno Romano

CHICAGO (WLS) -- We all know Chicago is a pizza town, but did you know about all of the various styles available here? Beyond our native tavern-thin, deep-dish and stuffed, there's also Detroit, Neapolitan and Sicilian, to name a few.

Even Roman style is gaining a foothold here, with the latest iteration in a category all its own.

The interesting thing about Roman-style pizzas is they come in several forms. There's al metro, by the yard; al taglio, which is cut with scissors to-order; a cracker-thin Roman tavern, and something called a pinsa, which is now available at just one place in the city, where they spend an inordinate amount of time on their dough, which is unlike anything in town.

The theme at L'Aventino Forno Romano, located in a tiny corner of a Streeterville high-rise, is mostly about a particular sub-category of Roman-style pizza called "pinsa."

"When you eat pinsa, you look at the crumb structure, it's really recognizable as a Roman thing - it's got big air pockets, lots of fermentation going on, it's light, airy and crispy," said Adam Weisell, the Chef-Owner.

The dough has an all-natural starter, lots of moisture, and rests for at least two to three days. It's pliable to the point of creating finger-width craters when pressed with hands.

"This is a next generation one, and what I mean by that is it also incorporates some non-GMO soy flour, as well as some rice flour. This lowers the gluten content and just aids in the digestibility," he said.

They drizzle on olive oil, then par-bake the crusts for a few minutes and hold them on a wire cooling rack, until orders come in. A basic margherita begins with fresh tomato sauce, some shards of basil and a generous handful of fior di latte, or fresh mozzarella. Just a little drizzle of oil and then into the oven for about three minutes, until the outside has formed a sturdy crust, while the interior portion of the heel has that nice, complex, open crumb structure.

His white pies are just as impressive. Cooked prosciutto is set over a bechamel-covered dough, which gets a shower of mozzarella and then grated potato.

"So those caramelize and get nice and sweet. It's a big fan favorite," said Weisell.

Finally, some fontina cheese, Parmigiano and rosemary. The pinsa is light, with a soft interior and crisp edge.

"It's definitely for a certain type of person, someone who is looking for something beyond the red sauce," he said.

And in a town known for deep, tavern-style and stuffed, this latest style to hit town does seem to be gaining a following.

"There's the kind of person looking for the next experience and something new. People are pretty receptive," said Weisell.

They've got a nice big patio now too, first-come, first-served, and have new hours, open from Wednesday through Sunday.

355 E. Ohio St.

New Hours:
Wed. - Thurs. 5 - 9 p.m.
Fri.- Sun. 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Patio is first-come, first-served
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