Once in a while, you come across a pizza you’ll never forget, that keeps you talking, that makes you hunger for more. For me, it was the Salsiccia, a thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pizza covered with blended San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte (mozzarella), sausage, basil, mushrooms, pecorino gran cru, and olive oil. It was prepared by Zagat-rated Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, 1769 W. Sunnyside Ave. This wonderful restaurant in Lincoln Square, on the corner of Ravenswood and Sunnyside avenues, is located just a few blocks from my condo.
The pizzeria is “inspired by the authentic aroma, taste, and craft of pizza found on the streets and in the pizzerias in Naples,” the restaurant’s website says. But while I’ve never been to Naples, Spacca Napoli owner Jonathan Goldsmith has — many times over.
It was in Naples that Goldsmith studied and became certified as a “Pizzaiuolo,” or pizza maker. There, he filmed a video that shows how pizza dough is formed into balls and then kneaded and spread thin to create delicious pizza using fresh toppings. (You can see the video by visiting spaccanapolipizzeria.com/about/.) Meanwhile, even though Goldsmith’s restaurant is in Chicago, he still works hard to give his customers an authentic Neapolitan pizza experience.
Third- and fourth-generation Naples artisans built Spacca Napoli’s wood-fired oven. The dough maker also comes from Italy, the website says. According to Bon Appetit magazine, which reviewed the restaurant in 2007, many of Goldsmith’s key ingredients are imported from Italy. These ingredients include mozzarella di bufala, San Marzano tomatoes, and Molino Caputo flour. And it only takes 60 to 90 seconds to bake the pizzas, which are heated at temperatures ranging from 950 to 1,200 degrees, according to Chicago Magazine.
Goldsmith loves to cook and has a passion for hospitality, and both were evident even during a quick, 5-minute wait for a pick-up order on a busy Friday evening. It was just around 5:30 p.m., but already the restaurant was brimming with activity. Families sat around tables while dates waited in line to place orders. The smiling wait staff was gracious and accommodating.
Nestled between Lillstreet Loft, Urban Pooch Canine Life Center, and other real estate, and across the street from the Metra tracks, Spacca Napoli is worth visiting, either for carry-out or dining in. What’s more, it’s the perfect neighborhood restaurant. Who wouldn’t want delicious pizza just blocks away?
Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.