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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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