Monday, May 21, 2012

Before Gusto, Fong's, Centro… there was Something Italian.

Before Gusto… Before Fong's… Even before Centro's coal-fired ovens started pumping out pizza, there was Something Italian.

If you frequent the Downtown Farmers' Market, you'll know Something Italian for their breakfast pizzas and frittatas. What you don't know, unless you're a hungry downtown worker, is that Something Italian has been offering pizzas, pastas, and salads for lunch from their location on the Skywalk level of the Kirkwood since December of 1999.

Back in the day I'd sniff about Something Italian – and Battani's across the street – around closing time to score unsold pies on the cheap. In later years I'd slip in for some hot slices-to-go while en route on work duties, but of late that routine has waned. So when I had some time off recently, I sat down there for the very first time to critique some of their fine builds.

First slice I tried was the Papa Luigi, a venerable standard with mozzarella, banana peppers, black and green olives, pepperoni, Graziano's Italian sausage, green peppers, and mushrooms. Light on the red sauce, the toppings alone power this fine slice.

Next up, another favorite, the Portabella Alfredo. Starting with a base homemade Alfredo sauce, the pizza is topped off with mozzarella, portobello mushroom, Roma tomato, artichoke hearts, and spinach. No shortage of meaty portobello chunks, and the slices of Roma tomato offers up a bright contrast.

Something Italian's thin crust sports a golden hue underneath, yet is also quite pliant. These slices warrant folding! The rind however can be a task to chew. Sometimes impossibly so.

Another pizza of note on Something Italian's menu is the Deep-dish with pepperoni. Not as voluminous as a true Chicagoland deep-dish, but still a sight to behold with its ample portion of red sauce atop. The tender crust is quite brown on the bottom with significant charring: you WILL taste it. The flavorful red sauce does dominate the pepperoni, and the layer of mozzarella – though not as thick as some Chicago pizzas I've enjoyed – does its job to segregate the crust from the sauce. And I do enjoy the texture of this crust. Even the high-sided rind is easy to chew and I can appreciate the flavor of the crust, being brown but not burnt.

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