Looking like a giant throbbing tangerine, this spacious Neapolitan-style pizzeria is just what Chicago needs: A place where you can stroll in, order up a glass of vino, and in less than 10 minutes be presented with a bubbling, slightly charred, basil-infused pizza straight out of a wood-burning oven. Ahhh, Italy. Where have you been hiding?
The layout is clean and beautiful, with huge windows that overwhelm the entire north side of the restaurant. The smells wafting from the open kitchen could drive a hungry person bonkers, so you'd do best to start with an order of antipasti. The insalata mista is a basic mix of field greens with a blast of vinegary dressing, but there's also a nice calamari affogati and a fresh-as-can-be zuchinne alla scapece.
But the shining stars here are the light-as-air pizzas. There are 10 options and each one is a tasty reminder of how good pizza done right can be. The simplest is the marinara ($8.50), which has nothing more on it than a smear of tomato, oregano and basil leaf, while the proscuitto e arucola ($15) comes loaded with a pile of arugula, shaved parmesan and that mouthwatering wonder proscuitto di parma.
Make like a true Italian and order a drop-dead delicious cappuccinos ($2.50). Wine ($5-$7 per glass) and coffee drinks are all served out of short rocks glass, adding a touch of class to the slightly utilitarian feel of the place.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Misty Tosh