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Friday, August 8, 2014

One Bite: Craft Pizza's murderously spicy white pizza

Posted By on 08.08.14 at 01:41 PM

H.H. Holmes, Craft Pizza

Naming a pizza, however obliquely, after one of the first American serial killers (that we know of) seems like a weak Kumasesque grab for attention. (Remember Kuma's? Who still waits in line for Kuma's?) In these times of pizza ubiquity you'll have to name every pie on your menu after local psychopaths (the Killer Clown, the Speck, the Lipstick Killer) to get my attention.

Verily the Devil in the White City at Wicker Park's Craft Pizza, named for south-side "murder castle" landlord H.H. Holmes, really needs no wicked title. It jumps out among the 11 house pies, fangs bared, claws out. Essentially a spicy version of the house white pizza (the White City), it layers spicy capicola, hot cherry peppers, peperoncini, and red onions on a garlicky three-cheese understory of mozzarella, pecorino romano, and grana padano. The toppings make a nice counterpoint to the milder base and it's a fine example of the generally successful congruity of topping and crust at this counter-service sibling restaurant to Lakeview's Pizzeria Serio. But unlike Serio, which traffics in the floppy, di moda Neapolitan style most new pizzerias are obligated to offer these days, Craft pushes a relatively thicker thin crust that nonetheless has the structural integrity to handle a heavier top load.

There's no wood-burning oven here but the pies still have an evenly crisp undercarriage supporting a moderately doughier upper crust that can stand up to most combinations. Most. Their Farm to Table pie features an assortment of raw, local vegetables that get steamy and wet in the oven, and never really become at one with the pizza. For all its good intention it's not the best choice for this crust.

parmesan bagel, Craft Pizza

There's no need to commit to a whole pie between the hours of 5 and 6:30 PM (11 AM-4 PM on weekends) when individual slices are sold, and if you're eating in there are a couple perfunctory salads and an antipasti plate to mix things up. On weekends they're putting out a not too shabby bagel, boiled (not steamed) and baked, which results in an appropriately chewy crust, and is good enough that you'll need to show up well before 11 AM to lay hands on them, as they tend to sell out early.

Craft Pizza

Craft Pizza, 1252 N. Damen, 773-442-7238, craftpizzachicago.com

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