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Andrea Bauer

Classic wood-fired Neopolitan pies from pizzaiola Nella Grassano, plus antipasti, secondi, and Italian wines and spirits.

Our Review

Nella Grassano ruined pizza for Chicago. Or at least she ruined the notion that even bad pizza is good pizza. That was in early 2006, when she first enchanted us at Spacca Napoli as the taciturn pizzaiola who emigrated from the Boot along with a 13,000-pound volcanic-stone oven. These days Neapolitan-style pies are a dime a dozen, but I'm excited to say nothing about Grassano's magic with the dough has changed. Her crusts accept heat like an embrace while maintaining their elasticity, resulting in a raised hill of fire-licked crust that surrounds the circular plain of sauce. Scattered with bubbling pools of milky cheese and strewn with imported toppings, it's something at once deeply satisfying and ephemeral. There are 11 classics, from the standard margherita to a four-cheese white pizza, and a few outstanding mutants like a marinated Genoa tuna and onion pie augmented with blazing disks of hot pepperoni or the irresistible Nutella pizza, a double-crusted blanket of half-melted chocolate-hazelnut spread covered in a snowfall of confectioners' sugar. The salads, appetizers, and pastas are less consistently wonderful, but a special house-made fettuccine with clams and a lusciously oily, Sicilian-style sauteed eggplant melanzane were both terrific. There's also a fascinating all-Italian beer list and a house-made limoncello, but the most important thing, as always, is the pizza. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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