Bojono’s Pizza

Just this past year I discovered that I live very close to Bojono’s Pizza which is located at 4185 N. Clarendon in Chicago. A really great pizza place that exists just a few blocks away and I never knew it! What kind of pizza reviewer am I? My friend Jason has been recommending this place to me for awhile now since it is located right in my own neighborhood (so I really had no excuse not to go and check it out). He mentioned that they have pretty good thin crust so after finally heading north in my neighborhood instead of south as we often do, we discovered just how good Bojono’s pizza actually is. And I have happily had it several times ever since.

Bojono’s opened up in Uptown in 1996 and prides themselves on serving pizza made with only the freshest ingredients. From all the pizzas I’ve ordered from Bojono’s, I can attest that the fresh ingredients are definitely noticed and make for a great pizza. One of the first pizza’s that I ordered from there was a thin crust with bacon, garlic, pepperoni and extra cheese. Just some of my usual favorite ingredients of course. The first thing I noticed when I opened the pizza was I thought “Hmmm, I didn’t ordered crumbled sausage…” Well that wasn’t crumbled sausage folks. It was tons and tons of crumbled bacon!! Usually when I order bacon on a pizza it isn’t that noticeable, but this pizza had lots and lots of delicious bacon on almost every bite. Another time I had ordered mushrooms on my pizza from Bojono’s and the pizza was literally filled edge to edge with mushrooms. So if you like a lot of toppings on your pizza, this place definitely doesn’t shy away from them. It was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed the crust on this pizza. It was a very light and very fresh dough where just the ends of the crust were crispy. Just the way I like it on a thin crust pizza. I also like the sauce that Bojono’s makes. I like that it is a little on the sweeter side and they use the perfect amount of sauce on their pies.

Bojonos Pizza

When we placed the order over the phone we were using a Groupon and had around $3.00 left to spend so the woman on the phone asked if we wanted a side salad or a drink or anything to go with it. We went with a side salad with ranch. I have to say, the homemade ranch dressing was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was really good! The fresh ingredients paid off again. They even gave us a mini loaf of bread and some butter to go with our salad. Even the bread tasted super fresh. I forget how much I love bread until I have a really great piece of it and just want to go back for more.

bojonos2

Another time, me and my besties ordered Bojono’s for a girl’s night in (GNI) and we decided to try the Bojono’s salad (along with pizza of course). This one had romaine lettuce, salami, fontinella cheese, tomato, celery, carrots, bermuda onion, black olives, pepperoncini, roasted peppers and comes with their special dressing although we ordered their homemade ranch on the side because it’s just that good. I literally was stealing the fontinella cheese off of all my friends’ plates. What? We all know how much I love my cheese! And the roasted red peppers, salami and pepperocini really made the salad. So delicious.

Unfortunately, this place doesn’t really have a seating area to dine-in at. They have more of a waiting area with stools. But if you get the chance to stop in, order a pizza to go or call up and get one for delivery. All I can say is Bravo Bojono’s. Bravo. I will give this pizza at least a 3 out of 5 stars


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Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe and Pizzeria

Yes, we had yet another Living Social coupon to use on a pizza again. This time, it was for Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe & Pizzeria located at 1925 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. I had never been to this restaurant before and I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the HUGE outdoor patio as we walked up to be seated. It was a beautiful day out so naturally we chose to sit outside. Although the hostess threw us for a loop when she started to speak because she had a very dull, deep and spacey voice. I instantly had to mock her to Eric after she seated us (because that’s just what I do). My guess is that she was a DePaul student because she seemed very young to me. I kinda wanted to grab her head and shake it and yell “Wake up, in there!” But I refrained.

Our waitress that came to take our order was just as interesting and I think she was also a DePaul student. She had a valley girl “OMG” type of voice to her. Interesting staff, that’s for sure, and just wait, it gets better! So we ordered a couple of Oberons and decided on a garlic, pepperoni and bacon pan pizza. I hadn’t had a pan pizza in awhile and it just sounded really good. While we waited for our pizza we noticed the table behind ours had a girl that was shadowing another waitress. They were waiting on a table of two guys. The guys had asked what types of dark beers they would recommend and the waitress suggested one beer that she “thought” was a dark beer but wasn’t sure. Then she proceeded to tell them she didn’t know of any other dark beers and would go ask the bartender. (And this was the waitress, not the girl shadowing her, the one that ‘should’ have known the menu in theory). I would think if it was your job to know the types of beers and food items on the menu… you should, well… probably know them. I hope the girl shadowing was taking good notes. Don’t need to know menu – check. 

Our pizza came and I have to say it was pretty tasty. The pieces of pepperoni were the largest slices of pepperoni I had ever seen on a pizza. They were the size of baseballs which was nice because you were pretty guaranteed to get pepperoni with almost every bite. The bacon was really good as well. It had a good smokey taste to it. And we found the best call of the night was to get the garlic as a topping. Some places will load waaaay too much garlic on. But this place had just the right amount on there. It really added a really great flavor. The one thing I felt the pizza needed more of was just a little bit more sauce. I actually decided to ask our waitress for a side of sauce so that I could dip my crust in to it. Why not, right? If Chicago Pizza Girl wants extra sauce, she should get extra sauce! So the waitress said, “Sure” and asked a bus boy to go get some. I waited and waited and no sauce came so I asked a bus boy myself when he came to our table to clear some things away. He seemed to understand what I was asking for and hurried away to go get me some. When he finally came back he brought me a side of mayonnaise. I kinda laughed and said, “Ooooh I’m sorry, I wanted marinara sauce.” And there was another bus boy stand ing next to him who repeated what I said to him and he seemed to then understand what I wanted. Finally, he came back with the right sauce. When the waitress came back to check on us she asked if I got my marinara sauce and I explained what happened. She then decided to become racist as she bashed her own co-worker right in front of us. She thought she was being funny by saying “You know ‘them’, none of ‘them’ speak english very well. I can never tell them apart either, they all look the same.” My mouth about dropped to the floor. I was like “did she actually just say that?” So rude! Quality staff, let me tell ya.

But enough about the stellar staff, I did enjoy the pizza. And the atmosphere was pretty nice. I would give this pizza a 3.5 star rating. At least you will probably be in for some interesting entertainment from the staff while eating your pizza if you check this place out. But it’s not the pizza’s fault. Don’t blame the pizza!

Rocco Ranalli's pizza

Osteria Via Stato

I kicked off the summer right this year by enjoying my favorite thing for lunch, pizza, in an outdoor patio with some pretty great people. Then, we finished the night off right, at a baseball game. We ate at Osteria Via Stato on State St. in Chicago. We had one of our first nice weekends so naturally I wanted to sit outside someplace and enjoy the weather. Osteria Via Stato has a really nice patio to eat outside in so it worked out perfectly.

Osteria Via Stato is known for its Roman style, cracker thin crust pizzas that are cooked in a brick oven. The size of the pizzas are small enough to order one for yourself. I tend to finish the whole darn thing when I go. Shocking… I know. Some of the types of pizzas I have tried there are the margherita, the sausage and the pepperoni. I will say, out of those three, the margherita is definitely my favorite. Some other types of pizzas they have there that I would love to try sometime are the four cheese pizza and the prociutto americana pizza, both of which are white pizzas.

Osteria Via Stato Margherita Pizza

Osteria Via Stato Pepperoni Pizza

Previous times I have been to Osteria Via Stato, I have tried the caprese salad and the plate of house marinated olives as an appetizer. Both were really good. It helps that I am a huge fan of kalamata olives! This last time that we were there, I ordered the margherita pizza for my lunch. There is something about the freshness of the basil that I just love. And the ratio of cheese to sauce is just right. Normally I don’t get all that excited about a cracker thin crust pizzas in general. I usually prefer a thicker crust or deep dish. But I have to say, I did enjoy this pizza very much. Paired with a Half Acre Daisy Cutter beer, it was delicious. And the great thing about the thinness and size of these pizzas is that if you are with a group people and all order different pizzas, they are great for sharing if you’d like to try more than one type. I would give this pizza a 3 star rating.

 

Homemade White Pizza Experiment

Ok, so over the years I have never been one to purposely order a white pizza. Although I have at least tried white pizzas in the past but only if someone else happens to be eating one and says “Oh come on, just try some.” So just what IS a white pizza you may ask? Well, here is the definition according to the “Google machine.” White Pizza – (pizza bianca) uses no tomato sauce, often substituting pesto or dairy products such as sour cream. Most commonly, the toppings consist only of mozzarella and ricotta cheese. In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped only with olive oil.

So I decided to try making my very own version of a white pizza with lots of ingredients that I love and see how I liked it. I started out just making a very simple pizza dough. The ingredients I included were as follows:

3 cups of flour to start
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. of sugar
3/4 cups water
1 Tbs. of yeast
2 tsp. garlic powder

In to the bread maker the ingredients went and about 40 minutes later it was ready to become a pizza.  First I rolled out the dough and laid down a layer of pesto sauce as my base. I usually just buy a jar of pesto that you can find right in the tomato sauce isle. Next I added the toppings which included sauteed mushrooms and spinach, chopped up kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts out of a jar, roasted red peppers and roasted garlic. Now this was the second time I have tried to roast garlic. It came out better than the first time I roasted garlic which was a complete disaster. But if anyone has a quick and easy way to do it, please let me know. It just seems really tricky to get the garlic from their cloves after it’s roasted. But maybe that’s just me.

White Pizza Pesto Base

After all the toppings were added I piled on the cheese. I started with grated parmesan cheese. Then I remembered I actually had shredded parmesan cheese in the fridge too so I added that as well. I also picked up some crumbled goat cheese and feta cheese at the grocery store so on to the pizza they went. Finally I covered the rest of the pizza with shredded mozzarella. I put the pizza in to the oven which had been preheated to 385 degrees and I set the timer for 17 minutes.

White Pizza toppings

The results…. I thought it came out pretty darn tasty. Like I have always said, I haven’t always been a huge fan of white pizzas, because I usually tend to like my pizzas with a lot of tomato sauce. But when I started to think about the different types of ingredients I could add to get some really great flavors, it started to sound pretty good. I guess my problem with white pizzas is that whenever I have tried them in restaurants they tend to seem too plain and bland to me. So my solution to that was to make my own that had lots of flavors going on and a lot of fresh ingredients. And this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Oh! The one thing I meant to add to this pizza but I forgot, which I think would have only made this even tastier, was……bacon! Oh well, next time!

White Pizza

Ernestos Pizza (aka Ernie’s)

This past weekend was opening day for the Tigers in Detroit, MI. So we packed up the Prius and headed down to MI on Thursday night. The game was fun as always. Great times with some really great people. Then on Saturday morning we continued on our way to Harbor Beach to visit with Eric’s mom for the rest of the weekend. And one thing that Eric always has to get when he his back in his home town is pizza from Ernestos Pizza. So I said, “Sign me up!”

Ernestos

The first time I experienced Ernestos was a year ago around this time when we went down for the Tigers opening weekend again. It’s a very quaint little pizza shop located in the downtown area of Harbor Beach. There’s only a few booths and tables on one side of the restaurant, a vintage juke box in the corner that plays old and new 45’s and of course the kitchen in the back. While we sat there eating our pizza in one of the booths, a family came in with two smaller children. Eric kept laughing because one of the little boys (I would say around the age of 3 or 4) kept popping up over the edge of our booth and smiling. Next thing I knew, I felt something touching me on my head….this little boy was actually petting me. The reaction of his mother led us to believe that this was a very common thing he did when they took their kids out to eat. The mom begrudgingly said “Oh no, not again!” And then they quickly decided to get their pizza to go and left the restaurant.

As entertaining as that was, we couldn’t stay and eat in at Ernestos this time around. So we ordered our pizza for pick up. We decided to order a large pizza with bacon, pepperoni and mushrooms on it because we knew we’d want a ton of leftovers… this pizza is almost just as good the next day as it is fresh. Eric actually likes it even better cold the next day.

Anways, the pizza was just absolutely delicious. They put a really significant amount of bacon on it so you definitely notice the smokiness of the bacon flavor. You taste bacon with pretty much every bite! The secret to their sauce is that it has a sweetness to it. And it has a good thickness to it if you ask me. Not too runny. I could also taste garlic in the sauce which always makes me happy. Speaking of garlic, there was definitely a hint of garlic in the crust. The crust has a really nice buttery flavor to it. It’s light and soft but has some good texture to the bottom of it. The cheese was really good too. I could tell it was a good quality mozzarella that they use. Although, I hear back in the day the cheese used to be even better. I guess they’ve changed owners over the years. All in all, this pizza had good substance to it. It wasn’t too thin but it wasn’t quite a pan pizza either. I will have to give this pizza 4.5 stars. If I had tried this pizza years ago when the ingredients were even better than they are now.. I bet this pizza would be a solid 5 for sure!

Ernestos Pizza

Fogo 2 Go for Delivery

A couple weeks back we decided to use our Fogo 2 Go Living Social coupon we had and ordered a pizza for delivery. Fogo 2 Go is located at 926 West Diversey in Chicago, IL. Fogo just opened up in 1997 and features Brazilian pizza, chicken and gourmet salads. This was the first time I had ever eaten from here so I was excited to try a new pizza place.

Fogo 2 Go box

The first thing that I was really impressed with was that they had over 50 different kinds of personal pizzas to choose from.That’s a LOT!! They ranged from greek pizzas, to buffalo chicken pizzas, to even shrimp scampi pizzas. You name it, they probably had it. They had 7 different kinds of cheese pizzas alone. And for a cheese lover, this was very exciting to see. We ended up deciding to just build our own pizza since there were sooo many different kinds of toppings to choose from. They had practically anything you wanted to put on your pizza, from chick peas to cheese whiz! The pizza toppings we choose weren’t too crazy or out of the ordinary: fresh sizzling bacon, prosciutto, and hot italian sausage.

We also decided to try the garlic knots which are their soft dough twists that are baked in extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, chopped garlic and finally a touch of parsley. These were really really delicious. The garlic knots were warm, soft and fluffy and loaded with lots of garlic goodness. They were supposed to come with a dipping sauce too but they forgot to add ours to the bag. I happened to have some of my homemade pizza sauce left over from earlier in the week, so that worked out perfect in a pinch.

On to the pizza. The pizza arrived and as soon as I opened the box I could tell the pizza didn’t appear to look that hot. It wasn’t cold or anything, but to me, it seemed like they didn’t have one of those special bags that keeps the pizza warm when transporting the pizza because it was only luke warm. I could be wrong and maybe we were just the last stop on their drive. Anyways, the first thing I noticed when tasting the pizza was that I felt like it didn’t have enough sauce to my liking. So I actually ended up dipping the pizza in my own leftover homemade pizza sauce that I was using to dip the garlic knots in. The cheese they used on the pizza seemed really tasty to me though. The hot italian sausage was just ok. I felt like I would have preferred the sausage to be in pieces rather than cut up, round sausage links. The prosciutto on the other hand was really tasty. I don’t usually see that as a topping option when I order pizza, so I was excited to try that. The only complaints I have about the prosciutto was that it was sliced too thick and there was also a little bit too much of it on the pizza. I ended up having to take some off because it was a little overwhelmingly salty with so much of it on there. So I think I would have to only give this pizza a rating of 2.5. I think the negatives outweighed the positives with this one. But I do highly recommend the garlic knots though. Those were absolutely amazing!!

Fogo 2 Go

Homemade Pizza Sauce With a Zing!

Being National Pizza week this past week, well, what else was I going to make for dinner but homemade pizza of course! This time, I decided to try making a homemade pizza sauce for the first time. I had actually just gone to the grocery store and bought a ton of tomato products for making chili later this weekend. So since I had the ingredients on hand, I went ahead and used some of them for a nice homemade sauce because I had never tried making my own pizza sauce before.

But before we get to the sauce, here’s what I put in my dough:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Coors Light beer
3 Tbs softened butter (Spreadable I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs yeast

So I went to work on my sauce next. The ingredients I used for this were as follows:

6 oz. can of tomato paste
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbs. olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbs. italian seasoning
1 Tbs. oregano
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

I started out by sautéing the garlic in olive oil. Next, I added all the tomato products and then added the seasonings. I stirred everything together and let it come to a boil. Then I just reduced the heat and let it sit and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. It was pretty simple, I must say. Who’d a thought? This recipe made probably enough sauce for 2 pizzas. So I have plenty of leftover sauce for my next pizza.

While the sauce cooked on the stovetop, I began prepping the toppings for the pizza. The toppings that went on this one were:

Mushrooms
Spinach
Pepperoni
Bacon
Fire Roasted Red Peppers
Mozzarella & Feta Cheese

I sauteed the mushrooms and spinach in garlic and olive oil in a frying pan. Once the dough was done in the bread machine and the sauce was finished cooking, I spread the sauce on the dough which was smelling nice and garlicy at this point. I put the rest of the toppings on and finally the cheese and in to the oven it went for 18:25 minutes at 385 degrees.

I have to say I was really impressed with the taste of this one. The sauce had a sweetness to it that I didn’t expect. But the red pepper flakes complimented it nicely and gave it just enough kick. I also liked the buttery taste that the crust had. The bacon and pepperoni went really well with the hint of sweetness I was getting from the homemade sauce because of their salty flavor. I think the garlic really added some great flavor to the sauce as well. I of course love garlic so I went a little on the heavier side when adding it to my sauce. All in all, I was really happy with this one. I was excited my first attempt to make my own homemade pizza sauce was a success!

homemade pizza sauce