Location: 2423 N Clark St.
Cost: Probably around $15 per person
I know that since I'm a blogger and all it's expected of me to be at least moderately technologically savvy. For the most part though I've been able to scoot along on the shoulders of some helpful friends. My buddies Matt Mcnamara and Josh Finkle are basically the brains behind anything tricky on the site. On top of that, my friend Kate handles most advice with relation to social media (especially twitter). It's not that I don't know how to use twitter. It's a pretty full proof system. It's just that I don't always know how to do it well (using the proper symbols, fitting within the character limit, not annoying people, etc).
So far be it from me to know what the heck anyone was talking about when my friend Felicia invited me to a Tweet Up. I think the easiest way to explain it is that it's the equivalent of a facebook event but on twitter. Felicia writes the blog Pizza Lover Chicago and arranged a pizza making and tasting event at Francesca's Pizzeria Napoletana. So Ricky and I hopped in the car and went just north of Clark and Fullerton for some pizza.
The restaurant is wide open with plenty of tables and a partially open kitchen centered around a large brick oven. We were placed in the back party room but were all over the place because most of us spent at least a little time making pizza. The servers and Chef Alfredo were very hospitable, and I'd hope that on a regular evening you'd be treated just as kindly. The best part of the night was when Ricky got called on to get in the kitchen. What made it even better was that one of the fellow attendees kept calling him Prince Harry because of their striking resemblance. You be the judge.
The event was a free tasting, but if you were to normally go there, a slightly larger than personal pizza would run you right around $12. Appetizers and salads are in the ballpark of $7. It's a pretty sweet deal to split a salad and a pizza for two. They also have nice daily specials like $0.25 beers with a pizza on Mondays and salad, pizza, and dessert on Tuesday's for $19.
It was tricky tasting all of the pizzas considering that some were cooked by our party with the assistance of Chef Alfredo. I tried to only take pictures of the "officially" made ones. Most of the crusts were crispy but not like a cracker. The occasional one was a bit soggy. The most impressive thing to me was that the dough smelled amazing. I got to try the Margherita, Vesuvio, Quattro Formaggi, and the Funghi e Salsiccia. The Vesuvio was split almost into two half calzones one with mozzarella, ricotta, and salami, and the other with mushrooms, artichokes, and mozzarella. I'd never had anything like it before, but when you fold it over it made for one hell of a bite. The Margherita was heavy on the basil like it should be, and the San Marzano tomato sauce was delicious. It may have been the style, but I would've liked a bit more sauce since it was so tasty. I thought the Funghi e Salsiccia would have had more mushrooms based on the name, but looking back there wasn't really too much more room on the smaller slice I had. The Quattro Formaggi was well balanced between the four cheeses (mozzarella, gorgonzola, ementhal, and caciotta dolce) and was my clear favorite. It may be a bit oily if that's something you typically avoid, but if not then I'd go for it.
Funghi e Salsiccia
The Quattro Formaggi
The name says it all in that the point is Napoli style pizza. I've never been to Italy, but the people who had were swearing that it was just like what you get at all the pizza shops right when you hop off the train in Naples. The ingredients were fresh and used in proper and interesting flavor combinations. It's pretty reasonably priced, and I left with a few dishes in mind that will make me return sooner rather than later. I'm not giving it a Pearl rating because it wasn't a very traditional way to experience the restaurant, and I don't think it'd be fair. I'd like to extend a special thanks to Felicia for hosting.