I’m a foodie and a Chicagoan – luckily those compliment each other well. Chicago is known for their food innovation, the hottest trends, the incredible chefs and of course, our pizza. At any given day our “must-have” pizza joints have a line around the block, yet locals and tourists alike will wait hours to get their mouths around a slice of yummy Chicago pie. And, who can blame them?
Pizza, one of my favorite dishes, was recently removed from my diet due to some unknown food allergies. To my good fortune the amazing team over at Rossopomodoro, the official pizza partner for Eataly Chicago, invited me and my son to try out their four new doughs - one of which is gluten and egg free! Eataly, a newer Chicago staple, is an Italian marketplace featuring a plethora of amazing italian delicacies, cafes, counters, restaurants, and a cooking school. At Eataly you can eat, shop and learn.
Prior to my Eataly visit, I was honored to connect with Simone Falco of Naples, Executive Chef & Owner of Rossopomodoro West Village and President and CEO of Rossopomodoro at Eataly USA, and ask him a few questions.
Simone Falco was born in into into a family of sportsman and entrepreneurs. When Simone grew older he became a rugby player and obtained a PhD from the University of Naples Federico II, one of the oldest Universities in Europe. Since he was very young, Simone has worked in the family company to learn the proper skills needed to run a successful restaurant business, leading into the launch and development of several new restaurant locations in Italy and abroad. Rossopomodoro in New York City’s West Village – an outpost location of the Rossopomodoro’s U.S. operations at Eataly New York (Flatiron & Financial District), Chicago, Boston, and San Paolo – has been carrying on the tradition ever since its opening in 2014.
He designed the restaurant’s menu to embody the brands manifesto and presents dishes that are simple, seasonal, straightforward, healthy and flavorful – and he goes way beyond just pizza & pasta. Simone would describe his personal style as classic Neapolitan.
I started out the interview asking Chef Falco what passions of his led him to pizza.
“Growing up in Naples, pizza was our breakfast every weekend. How could I not be attracted to pizza?”
As someone with food allergies and a passion for health, it’s refreshing to see more and more offerings that cater to a healthful lifestyle without giving up the things we love – like pizza. What’s the secret to maintaining great taste yet being healthy also?
“The secret is high quality ingredients (wild, organic, no chemicals) and good sourcing.”
As you know, Chicago is certainly a pizza town. What excites you most about these four new kinds of dough and how are they different from the others we can find in the city?
Last question, and it’s the obligatory one. You may know that New York and Chicago have an ongoing pizza war. So, which would you say is your favorite between the two signature styles? Chicago or New York?
“My favorite is Neapolitan of course but I have an appreciation for all types. Different pizza has different uses. Sometimes I crave a New York slice and sometimes I crave deep dish. Chicago pizza is more of treat because I live in New York.”
Hearing his story and passion for pizza, I was thrilled met his team and head Chef Simone Lavarone at the Chicago Eataly location. While there he prepared several pizzas showcasing their new doughs.
My favorite was this little slice of heaven with a zucchini cream instead of tomato base. Perfection.
There new doughs now available are:
- The Original Pizza Napoletana
- This classic-style pizza from Napoli made with “Type 00” flour is the most elegant and complex of all. The long leavening time (24-plus hours) paired with the brief cooking time produces a pizza with a thin, elastic center and a charred, airy crust.
- Old World Innovation
- This dough is the precursor to the pizza we know today, originally made from leftover bread dough from bakeries in the suburbs of Napoli. The “Type 1” whole grain flour and slow-rising process yield a slightly sweet and hearty dough.
- Classic yet Crispy
- This contemporary take on pizza is typical of the coastal towns near Napoli (think: Amalfi Coast). Made with the same “Type 00” flour as the Classica, this dough proofs longer and cooks longer resulting in a lighter, crispier crust that is soft in the middle and never disappoints.
- Light and Gluten-Free
- This airy, slightly caramelized crust is made from an innovative blend of corn, rice, and gluten-free buckwheat flours, offering all the flavors of the real pizza napoletana with a lighter base! While the dough is gluten-free, our environment is not, meaning trace amounts of gluten may be present — it is not certified for those with celiac disease.
Needless to say, the pizzas looked beautiful and tasted even better than one can imagine. This is truly pizza reinvented!