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


.

Advertisements

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

Did Apart Pizza Company Stand “Apart” From the Rest?

Low and behold folks, I had yet another Groupon-like deal (this one was a Living Social coupon) for another pizza place that I had to use up before May 24th. This one was for Apart Pizza Company. There are two locations that I know of. One in Andersonville in Chicago on Broadway and another at the corner of Montrose and Lincoln. Now when looking at the website, http://www.apartpizzacompany.com, it was kind of hard to tell if either of these locations actually had seating. But I finally did see that the one on Broadway had at least patio seating, so Broadway was the one we decided to go ahead and try.

caesar salad

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in the door. But I will say I was at least happy there were 3 whole tables to sit at since we felt like dining in instead of just getting delivery that night. The place was definitely set up more as just delivery pizza place rather than an actual dine in restaurant. So on to the ordering. The menu had a lot of great toppings and specialized pizzas to choose from. For instance, one pizza that we almost went with was called the Tricolore which contained fresh tomatoes, goat cheese and spinach. Another one I thought sounded great was the Quattro Formaggi which had brie, goat, parmesan, and bleu cheeses. Mmmm cheese! But we ended up just creating our own with pepperoni, bacon and goat cheese. When we placed our order though, I forgot that our coupon was worth up to $30! So we had to order more if we wanted to get our money’s worth. (Ok twist my arm.) So we increased our pizza from a medium to a large (since I always love leftovers anyways) and also ordered a Caesar salad and some fountain drinks (for future notice, this place is BYOB).

Our pizza came out pretty quickly. So quick in fact that they hadn’t even brought out our salad yet. But that came shortly after. The salad was pretty large and that being said, we finished the whole thing, it was so tasty. The pizza came in large New York style slices. They are all hand tossed so you really end up getting a good sized pizza which is always nice in my opinion. As far as thin crust goes, this place was pretty comparable to some of the other places I have been to. The bacon had a great smokey flavor to it. It wasn’t the small, cheap crumbles you might find on some pizzas. The slices of bacon were nice and thick and flavorful. The amount of goat cheese they put on there was just right too. Some places will load it on when you ask for goat cheese and although I do love my cheese.. it can sometimes be too overwhelming of a flavor if there’s too much of it.

Apart Pizza Company

The people on staff here were all very nice. You can tell the manager takes pride in what she does. She was very attentive to us and the other couple at the table next to us that were also dining in. Now granted there were only 2 tables to have to take care of, but none-the-less, they were very nice and accommodating there. I would definitely go back. I think I would have to rate this pizza a 3.5 out of 5.

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

Adventures in Cast Iron Pizza Pan Cooking

Have you ever thought about or wanted to try cooking a homemade pizza in a cast iron frying pan? I’ve read online different ways you can do this and one suggestion was to cook your pizza on the bottom side of a cast iron frying pan flipped upside down. Well, little did I know, they actually make cast iron pizza pans specifically for cooking pizzas on! Literally just days after I found out these genius pizza pans were in existence, we then got one as a Christmas present! How perfect is that?!
cast_iron_pan

This was my first attempt at cooking a pizza on a cast iron pan. So I did a bit of research on what to do beforehand. I learned you should preheat the pan for 30-60 min. in the oven at a temperature of at least 450 degrees or higher before you put the pizza in. I also read that you will know your pan is ready when you splash a few drops of water on the pan and the drops “dance.” The pan we received was a 14 inch pre-treated, non-stick pan so it was ready to go right out of the box. Which was great! The nice thing about cast iron is that you can use it in the oven, on an outdoor grill or even on a campfire. Cast iron pans are known for even heating and excellent heat retention when cooking a pizza. So I was really looking forward to the nice golden crust this one was going to have.

The ingredients I used for the homemade dough this time were:

2 1/2 cups of flour
2/3 cups of lukewarm water
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
1 Tbs of minced garlic
1 Tbs of yeast
1 Tbs of oregano
2 Tbs of olive oil

The tricky part of making the pizza on the preheated cast iron pan as opposed to a regular pizza pan is that you need to have your dough rolled out before you put it on the pan. This is because once you place the dough on the hot cast iron, it’s gonna be stuck there! So I transferred the dough I hand stretched and rolled out beforehand on to the pre-heated pan and quickly got the sauce and toppings on so I could get it back in the oven.

The toppings I used were as follows: (You’ll notice they are similar to the last homemade pizza I made. It was just so good I had to use a lot of the same toppings)

Pepperoni
Kalamata Olives
Fire Roasted Red Peppers
Salami
Mozzerrella, Pepper Jack and Parmesan Cheese

cast iron

Before placing the pizza back in the oven I turned the oven down to 385 degrees. Then, I cooked the pizza for around 17 minutes. And the verdict was…… success! The crust had a very nice crisp to it on the bottom and was cooked perfectly through. I was very impressed. I’ll probably do some experimenting with the temps and timing for the next one I use the cast iron pan for just to see the different results I get. But for my first attempt, it came out pretty darn good. Another idea we came up to try with was to keep the cast iron pizza pan nice and warm while putting the toppings on by lighting the burner underneath it while it sits on the stove. There are so many different things to try with this pan. It can also be used for warming tortilla shells, baking rolls, cornbread, etc. I’m very happy with the new addition to our pizza pan collection!

cast iron slice

CPG found out 2 weeks is too long to go without making a pizza

This weekend I decided to make another pizza, because well, why not? I had the time and I love pizza. Since I’m on my garlic kick right now (really, when am I not) I wanted to add garlic powder to the dough again. Well, I guess going 2 weeks without making a pizza was a little too long for me. Because I made some vital errors in my dough making this time. First I’ll give you the run down of what I put in the dough.

Dough Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups of flour to start
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. of sugar
1 can of Coors Light
1 Tbs. of yeast
and garlic powder (not exactly sure how much)..

Now I say I don’t exactly how much garlic powder I put in because I simply took the shaker and went to town. I’ve noticed in my pizza making experience that if you want to be able to taste a certain flavor in your dough, you kind of have to use a lot of that ingredient. So if I had to guess, I’d say I put in maybe 2-3 Tbs. of garlic powder. Then, I let the breadmaker do its thing. The whole time the dough was being prepared, the scent of garlic filled the whole condo. It was definitely going to be noticed in this one! :)

Now as I checked on the dough in the beginning, I could already tell that I needed to add more  flour. I could tell the flour to liquid ratio was just not right. I’ve made my own dough enough now where I could tell just by looking at the consistency of it that I needed to add more flour. So I went ahead and added probably another cup’s worth right then and there. When the beeping went off to tell me that the breadmaker was finished and my dough was ready I opened the lid and said “Oh no.. ” I could immediately tell that the dough was too sticky. Apparently I needed to add a LOT more flour than I had thought.

Have no fear, I just got out the flour again and went to work on working more in to the ball of dough I had. And soon enough, the dough was much less sticky and ready to roll out on to the pizza pan. I did have to cut the dough in half now though since I added so much more flour, there was just too much of it and I wanted more of a thin crust for this pizza. Good save Linds!! Gave myself a pat on the back for rescuing the pizza dough, because otherwise I would have been very sad. Lindsay without her pizza is not a pretty sight.

Now on to the pizza toppings. I loaded up the base with sauce. Just my usual Ragu pizza sauce this time. (One of these days I will get around to making my own sauce. I promise.) Then I added pepperoni, left over italian sausage from dinner a few nights before, and mushrooms. I shredded mozzarella (seriously, I can never remember how to spell that one and spellcheck always yells at me) and cheddar to top it off. In the oven my garlic-y pizza went at 385 degrees for 19 minutes.

homemade garlic crust

When the pizza came out, it was perfectly cooked. Lightly browned, melted cheese and a slightly crispy crust on the bottom. The first thing I noticed when I took a bite in to this pizza was the consistency of the dough. It definitely had a different texture to it than my dough usually has. Almost like it was more spongey and it wasn’t as light and airy. I am not sure if it was the amount of garlic powder I put in to the dough that changed the consistency or it was the flour I was adding to the dough after the dough was already made. But, I will say that the pizza still tasted quite good. It was just a different kind of crust. So I was happy with the end result. You could certainly taste the hint of garlic in the dough. And the italian sausage was really flavorful. I guess there is something to be said for being more careful about measuring  though :)

garlic powder crust

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