Eating at Eataly

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged….so I apologize. I really have no excuse. But don’t worry, I have still been indulging in pizza as much as I possibly can! That has not stopped (and never will if I can help it). With National Pizza Week happening in January I was inspired to start blogging again. So yay! And today I’ll be talking all about Chicago’s own Eataly.

Eataly opened in December 2013 featuring Chefs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and is located at 43 East Ohio Street in Chicago. This is the second Eataly location to open in the US (the first is located in NY) and let me tell you it’s a big one! It has 63,000 square ft. of space and 23 restaurants, some which include: La Pizza & La Pasta, La Piazza, La Carne, Il Pesce & Le Verdure,  Lait Gelato, etc. etc…. La Get In My Belly is what I was saying when I walked through the doors for the first time! Not only can you eat at one of the many eateries here but there is so much more to Eataly. It’s a grocery store, a wine shop, a cooking school, a bookstore… well let’s just go ahead and call it an Italian food theme park!

One of the nice things about Eataly is there is a wine bar and even it’s very own brewery inside (Birreria) where you can get yourself a drink to walk around with while you shop or wait for your table reservation. So naturally, the first thing I did when I IMG_2928walk through the door is head to Birreria. They have a really great selection of beer to choose from. Not only do they often have one of my favorite beers there, Three Floyds Zombie Dust, (which can be hard to find at times here in Chicago) but I also got the chance to try out Three Floyds Permanent Funeral. It did not disappoint. One of these times I’ll have to try the beer that they brew themselves. (Just one of the many reasons to go back!)

Ok on to the pizza. After all, that is what I’m supposed to be reviewing from this place right?  I have had the pleasure of trying three pizzas there so far – the Massese, the Salsicciotta and a third pizza I had there that was on special that day which I can’t quite remember the name of right now so we’ll just call it the “Special”.

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The Massese – mozzarella, tomato sauce, spicy salami, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil.

The Salsicciotta – tomato sauce, mozzarella, Eataly housemade sweet italian sausage, mushrooms and basil

The “Special” – mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, extra virgin olive oil and basil

IMG_2917First let’s talk about the dough. The dough is very light and airy with a little bit of chewiness but with just the right amount of crispness to the crust. The pizzas are  thin crust and cooked in a pizza oven that reaches 900 degrees F and cooks in just 90 seconds.  I always love when a crust has good bubbles in it, which these pizzas had plenty of. Not sure why that is, I just can’t help but get excited when I get a bubble slice.

Let’s see, what can I say about the sauce? It was good. Good flavor and just the right amount was used in my opinion. Not too much not too little. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a pizza doesn’t have enough sauce on it. As far as the toppings go, I think what really makes these pizzas taste so great is that only fresh ingredients are used. I mean, Eataly has it’s own mozzarella lab where people can watch the process of making mozzarella from scratch in three different stages . The spicy salami was out of this world. Really great flavor and a good level of spiciness to it. It really made the pizza. I think the Massese would have to be declared my favorite out of the three I tried because of the spicy salami. The housemade sweet italian sausage was really good too. It was seasoned really well and I liked that it wasn’t just placed on the pizza in big chunks but was more crumbled over it so you’d get some in each bite. My only complaint about the toppings would be that I would have liked more basil on each one. There were maybe 2 leaves on the pizzas. Gimme more of that fresh basil, LOTS more!

IMG_2909And the olive oil.. well let’s just say I found out that Eataly offers 100 varieties of olive oils from producers that harvest exclusively in Italy. Not only did I get to enjoy the wonderfulness of the olive oil on my pizzas but they also give you complimentary bread and a plate of olive oil to dip your bread in as soon as you sit down at your table. So basically the moral of the story here is: fresh ingredients = better pizza! (I feel like that’s in a pizza commercial somewhere, am I right?) Which makes total sense though! So I would have to give the pizza at Eataly a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Side note: I also tried a bite of my cousin’s pasta (which was great) while I was there. There are SOOOOO many other things I would die to go back and try there. I would just have to somehow convince myself to NOT get the pizza…which could be a very very difficult task in itself.

IMG_29242nd side note: They also have a book I found in the bookstore in the shape of a pizza called Pizza – 50 Easy Recipes. I must have this book in the near future… therefore, stay tuned for more homemade pizza related blogs!

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Nothing like homegrown vegetables on your pizza!

Homemade pizza tonight! Ok, so my decision process on making pizza tonight went something like this. I didn’t want pasta because I had pasta for dinner last night. I had grilled burgers and brats over the weekend so I didn’t feel like grilling. I figured I’d make a nice big salad one day this week but that would require going to the store to buy all the stuff to go in it and I just didn’t feel like making the trip. I wanted something that didn’t require a lot of effort or time either. I started to get the inkling for a pizza (naturally) but knew that by the time I got home, making the dough from scratch would put me at actually eating dinner around 9:00pm tonight. And I was already hungry (this was around 5:00pm that this thought process took place). So, I thought, you know…Whole Foods has really good fresh homemade dough and that would cut down the prep time by a lot. And viola, there you have it! We were making pizza tonight.

Since there was no dough making in this process, I’ll go right in to which toppings were used tonight:

  • Ragu Pizza Sauce
  • Fresh Mozzarella from Whole Foods
  • Chunks of cut up homegrown tomatoes from my parent’s vegetable garden
  • Sliced kalamata olives
  • Pepperoni
  • Sauteed homegrown zucchini from my parent’s vegetable garden
  • Basil…you got it, homegrown from my parent’s vegetable garden

Can you tell I’ve just recently been to my parent’s house? Any time I go there during the summer I get sent home with a bag full of fresh vegetables. I love it! This time I actually picked my own basil leaves too. Anyways, the pizza came out really tasty. I loved the fresh basil the best. The flavor really stood out and it smelled delicious. The kalamata olives really had a great strong flavor as well. Of course I love kalamata olives so I didn’t mind the strong taste. I can eat those things like candy. In fact, I often just sit there and eat them out of the jar as a snack when I’m deciding what to eat. I didn’t really notice the zucchini that much. We cut up round slices and sauteed them in a pan before we put them on the pizza. I wonder if I added more the next time if they would be more noticeable. Or maybe I’ll try doing shredded zucchini. We’ll see.

Whole fresh pizza

I actually felt like this pizza could have had a little more crunch to it. I cooked it for it’s usual time of around 18 minutes at 385 degrees. Maybe it had to do with the type of dough it was, but I actually put the whole pizza (what was left of it) back in to the oven for another 3 minutes after I ate the first slice. It gave it a little more crunch to the bottom. So then I was happy. All in all the pizza was very good. If you’re going to put vegetables on your pizza, you really can’t go wrong with homegrown. It just tastes so unbelievably fresh! Thanks Mom & Dad! I’ll certainly be back for more veggies sometime soon.

Close up fresh veggies