Cost: Normally around $10 per person
So it recently came up in a bunch of articles in the Chicago Reader that maybe it's not ethical to take free food as a reviewer. Specifically it was pointed out that during the Paris Club pre-party none of the attendees blogged about the infamous smell that has been coming from the floor boards because we were too wooed by the free food (I guess no one ever looked at the other point of view which was that maybe it didn't smell two nights before opening. I think if it was as pungent as it is now that I [and the many other people there] would've noticed it even a little bit. I doubt they would've opened knowing that the smell was a problem beforehand. It probably occurred after they got up and running). Anyways, it still made me think a bit about what to do when the food I eat is free. First off, I'm clearly not rolling in it in any way (med school loans and such), and secondly there's no profit coming in off of Jeff Eats Chicago. So, I don't really see the huge problem in taking free food. However, I do think it's wrong of me to rate food when it's free which is why I'll continue to abstain from Pearl ratings in such a case. Some fellow bloggers chose not to comment on their opinions of the food and rather purely advertise what they ate in some way. I see the merit in that, but I think my opinions can still come into play without being swayed to thoroughly. The reason I'm getting into this is because I was recently contacted to try out the new lunch special at Pizzeria Via Stato.
Pizzeria Via Stato is basically a bar and pizza lounge in the entryway to Osteria Via Stato. There is a long bar counter as well as a few four tops and booths that you can sit at. When we got there it wasn't necessarily crowded, but it was comfortable for a lunch crowd. You probably won't need a reservation, and they're efficient enough to get you back to work in a reasonable amount of time (which was important for the Professor and Kovar who joined me).
The special is pretty straight forward and a sweet deal. For $10 you get the soup of the day, a sandwich, and dessert. You can also get a pizza instead of the sandwich for a $4 add on. It's a pretty solid cost considering that a personal pizza is usually near $14 on its own.
The soup of the day was Chicken which at first my buddies and I were pretty bummed about. I feel like chicken soup is pretty standard, and I never really want to get it anywhere. When it came out it was piping hot and loaded with large chunks of chicken. The broth also seemed homemade with a bit of schmaltz on the top and a hefty serving of veggies. I think the soup may have been our favorite thing. Also, the bread they put out is pretty delicious. It had a nice crust and a fluffy inside. Plus it came with olive oil, balsamic, and olives to eat with it (a nice little step up from the normal bread and butter you might get elsewhere). Then our mains came out. The Professor got the Proscuitto Americano Pizza, I had the Roasted Mushroom Pizza, and Kovar got the Chicken Pesto Sandwich. In general the pizzas are cracker thin and cut into squares. It may have been a bit thin for my taste, but the Professor was a big fan. I liked his toppings a bit better than mine. The proscuitto had a sweet taste to it, and the parmesan came in large shavings. Mine was heavy on the shrooms and goat cheese which I was a big fan of, but I'm not sure it went as well with the thin crust as the proscuitto and parm. Kovar really enjoyed his sandwich. It came with a giardinera that wasn't overpowering but gave the sandwich a textural crunch. Finally, our dessert came out which was a chocolate tart. It was super rich, and my problem was that I ate it way too quickly. It weighed me down a bit (especially for the salsa class I had right after lunch), but I think it was scrumptious.
The Olive Plate
(I know not a big deal normally, but it was good stuff)
The Chicken Soup
The Chicken Pesto Sandwich
The Roasted Mushroom Pizza
The Proscuitto Americano Pizza
The Chocolate Tart
If you need a quick sit down lunch in River North then it's definitely worth your time to check out Pizzeria via Stato. It's a lot more food than you'll get at other places in the area for the money. If you're into super thin crispy pizza then this is your place as well. I hope you guys make time to give this one a try.