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 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