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.

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Ariba, Ariba!! First Attempt at a Mexican Pizza

Taco night (or as we call it in this house, “Effin’ Taco Night!!”) has always been quite popular in the dinner rotation here. So, for quite some time now I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making a mexican pizza. Well, last week I finally got my ideas together, headed to the grocery store and got everything I needed to do it.

The homemade dough was just your basic pizza dough recipe. The one thing I did decide to add to spice things up though was a bit of some cayenne pepper. See dough ingredients below:

3 cups of flour to start
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbs. of yeast
1 tsp of cayenne pepper

The toppings I decided to put on this pizza were:

Refried beans
Salsa
Black Olives (Lindsay’s brand of course)
Diced tomatoes
Spicy taco meat
Home grown chives from my Mom & Dad’s garden
Cheddar & pepper jack cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes

While the dough was doing it’s thing in the bread maker, I got all my chopping and prepping done ahead of time. First, I cooked up 1 lb. of ground sirloin and then added a packet of hot n’ spicy taco seasoning. I also warmed up the refried beans in a sauce pan so that they would be easier to spread on top of the dough. Once the dough was ready to roll out, the first thing I put down was the refried beans. Next, I spread out the salsa on top of the beans and sprinkled some crushed red pepper on top of that. I purposely bought a salsa that wasn’t too chunky but not too runny/watery either. It had a great consistency similar to what you would get in a mexican restaurant. Then, I added the black olives, chives and diced tomatoes. And finally I shredded the cheddar and pepper jack cheese and covered the pizza.

I cooked the pizza at 385 degrees for 19 minutes. The pizza looked great when it came out of the oven. I have to admit I was very excited yet nervous to try this pizza. I really had no idea if I was going to love it or hate it. To my surprise, it tasted excellent!! Only a few things I would change up to make it even better the next time I make this. This pizza would be a perfect candidate for using the new cast iron pizza pan we have (this time I just used our regular pan). The cast iron really gives the crust a crispy crunch to it which I felt would have helped this pizza. I may have put on a little bit too much salsa because I felt that if I didn’t eat the pizza quickly, it just might get a little too soggy. So I think the extra crunchiness that the cast iron pan provides would have been great.

Mexican Pizza

Another thing I forgot to add that I bought for this little experiment was black beans. Oops! There’s always next time. Also, I wanted to add my favorite taco sauce, Ortega (medium or hot), but was worried with the salsa AND the taco sauce that it might get even MORE soggy. So I skipped the Ortega sauce this time. I think next time, I might mix up a combination of salsa with the Ortega sauce and use that. Another thing I thought might be fun to add on top (maybe after it’s done cooking) would be crushed up tortilla chips. But I haven’t decided how I feel about that topping yet. Would it really help the pizza? Or am I just gettin’ crazy now?

Needless to say, Effin’ Taco Pizza night was a success! And I think warming up a piece of the leftovers on the stovetop in a frying pan would a great idea for this pizza. I think that it would help crisp up the bottom of the crust a little more when going to reheat it. Now all you need is a margarita and you’d be set!

Mexican Pizza

Bricks Chicago Pizza Review

So you’ve all heard of Groupon.com by now right? I blogged about it a few posts back. It’s a site where you can get discounts off of things like restaurants, massages, salons, etc. Well there’s another site that is very similar to that one called 3 o’clock club (3oclockclub.com) where you get a few deals per day emailed to you right around 3:00pm. Well I happened to have a gift certificate purchased from there to use on a meal at Bricks Chicago pizza. So Thursday night we decided to use it and see just what all the hype was about. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Bricks.

Bricks was founded in 1997 and is located at at 1909 N. Lincoln in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. They pride themselves on tasty beer, crispy thin crust pizza and great music. When we first walked up to the building, I didn’t think we were at the right place except that it clearly had the sign hanging above the door. But the entrance led to a dark basement that kind of smelled a little funky to be honest. But, once we got inside it looked just like your typical pizza pub.

Bricks OberonThe first thing I noticed that scored major points with me was that they served Oberon on tap! I have only seen like 1 or 2 other places in the city that serve it on tap. So I was instantly pleased. Then, I looked at the menu and I have to say, there were so many interesting choices for pizza toppings that all sounded so good. I was having a difficult time deciding what I wanted to order. We ended up getting the Red Planet pizza which included sweet red peppers, italian sausage, goat cheese, mozzarella, and red onion. We were a little unsure about the red onion so we decided to swap it out for something we KNEW we already loved… Bacon! Can’t go wrong there.

When the pizza came, I immediately noticed the delightful taste of the goat cheese. Goat cheese makes everything better in my opinion. So I was instantly happy. The crust had a nice crispiness to it and I liked the flavor of it. One thing I will say, is that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the type of sausage they used. I’m not saying I hated it 0r anything, I’m just saying that I’ve had better at many other pizza places before. Another thing I noticed was that I didn’t think there was enough sauce on this pizza at all. In fact, we commented on how we felt like we could barely taste any sauce on it at all. So I’m not even sure what it tasted like to be able to judge it.

Bricks Chicago Pizza

I have heard so many good things about Bricks. In fact, whenever I look up new pizza places to try, it always shows up near the top of many lists I find. I thought it was very good, don’t get me wrong. I will agree, they have some good tasting thin crust pizza and a lot of creative pizza toppings to choose from. Maybe my expectations were set too high on this one, but I didn’t think there was anything super special that really stood out with this pizza. I think it was very comparable to a lot of other thin crust pizzas I enjoy. For instance, D’Agostino’s or maybe a better version of Pizza Rustica. So I’d have to give this pizza place a 3 rating. I would definitely go back to try some other pizzas in the future. But for now, I have many many other places to try in the meantime!

Reviewing pizza from the road – DaVinci’s Italian Restaurant in IN

This weekend I went on a road trip to Ohio to go to Cedar Point and ride some roller coasters! We left Chicago right around 5:00pm on Friday and actually got out of the city in fairly good timing. Once we were well on our way (in Indiana at this time), we decided it was time to stop for some dinner. We were kind of in the mood for Italian so we were originally thinking Fazolis, since we had seen a sign for it along the highway and figured it would be quick. But once we got off the exit, we passed this local Italian restaurant named DaVinci’s and our decision was made. Fazolis did not win out this time! So, we decided to give DaVinci’s a try.

So, first we had to decide between thin, regular or thick. We had no preference really so we went with regular. Then we ordered a medium sausage and mushroom pizza with a delicious brusheta appetizer that came with kalamata olives and artichoke hearts so I was one happy camper.

DaVinci's Pizza

When the pizza came, it was much bigger than we expected. So we had lots of leftovers for the weekend. I must say, the crust was great. It had a great crispiness to it and it even had lots of bubbles in the crust which I am a big fan of. I still want to know how they get those in there. Does it have to do with the temperature they cook it at? If anyone knows this secret, please let me know. The sausage was really really good too. It wasn’t that crappy dried out, rabbit turd sausage that you sometimes get at cheaper pizza places or on frozen pizzas. It had a lot of great flavor that left a lasting impression on me. I will say that sauce was a little bit runny or thin. It was  a good flavor, but it either needed to be a little bit thicker or there needed to be more sauce on the pizza. Not sure which really. Now the mushrooms… I completely forgot they were even on the pizza. We decided that they were probably just those mushrooms that you get out of a can at the grocery store. They didn’t seem to make any sort of impression on us. I certainly don’t think they were fresh since I could barely taste them.

But overall, the pizza was really good. I did eat 3 slices after all. But to my defense, my first slice was really thin. And the leftovers we had, made it all the way back to Chicago with us. Luckily there was a mini fridge in the hotel with us. How we didn’t scarf that down before we left? I don’t know. I have to say Indiana, I was pleasantly surprised with your local pizza establishment off of a highway exit in Elkhart, IN. I would rate this pizza establishment as a 3.

DaVinci's Pizza 2