When Eataly invites me to an event, I always say yes. When the event involves doing a side by side taste test of pizza, I feel extra lucky. On Monday I had the chance to try Eataly’s pizza and Spacca Napoli‘s pizza side by side. Spacca Napoli is a pizzeria in Ravenwood that for one night only was serving pizza along with Eataly’s pizzeria Rossopomodoro.
Both pizzerias specialize in Neapolitan style pizza. Classic Neapolitan style pizza is comprised of few, carefully selected ingredients, such as San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and simply made dough that rises overnight. Of course each pizzeria has their own way of making Neopolitan style pizza. Some crusts are slightly thicker than others, and the proportions of cheese and tomato sauce are always different.
Both Rossopomodoro (the name of Eataly’s pizzeria) and Spacca Napoli cook their pizzas in wood fired ovens. The heat is so strong that the pizzas cook in just 60-90 seconds. My pizza was in front of me less than 10 minutes after it was ordered. The heat from the wood fired oven is what makes the crust crisp on the outside and doughy in the middle. This is the crust that I want when I am having pizza.
The point of the event wasn’t to decide if one pizza is better than the other, but rather to appreciate two local eateries interpretation of Neapolitan style pizza. I found that Eataly’s pizza (pictured above) had a slightly thicker crispier crust, and more sauce. It has almost equal proportions of cheese and sauce. I generally like pizzas with more sauce, but this sauce was so flavorful that I didn’t mind that some bites didn’t have cheese. Rossopomodoro finishes the pizza by drizzling olive oil over the crust which was a nice touch, and I ate every bite.
The Spacca Napoli pizza had a doughier chewier crust, and more cheese. They also added a small ball of mozzarella in the center of the pizza once it had cooked. I really loved the textural difference between the melted cheese and the ball of cheese. The cheese was definitely the star of the show on the Spacca Napoli pizza, with the crust and sauce – which were both superb playing a supporting role.
One thing I learned is that buffalo mozzarella is the best. It is so rich and creamy, and it melts beautifully. It is clear to me that both pizzerias are using top notch ingredients, and I could taste the difference. Eataly and Spacca Napoli are in very different parts of the city, and I loved how two restaurants that some may consider to be competitors came together and spent a night collaborating, and feeding me. I strongly recommend both Eataly’s Rossopompodoro and Spacca Napoli.
Eataly is located at 43 East Ohio in Chicago’s River North
Spacca Napoli is located at 1769 West Sunnyside Avenue in Ravenswood