It is especially good when you are living a block or two from an indicted city employee (wait...that doesn't really narrow it down living in Chicago) and just one block beyond the 4 black SUVs is a sleepy little BYO pizza joint. Enter Pizza Art Cafe on Rockwell. Take a beanie baby pink flamingo, put it in a clothing-designer manikin, slap that up on the wall with a lovely red beaded necklace. Add variations on said theme to cover walls. Toss in a little (well a lotta) garlic and an oven roasted pizza on the side. Then give me a lax-a-daisy sloppy pony-tailed waitress who really wants to sell you that bottled water on the table (I did say it's BYO right) and you've got Pizza Art.
I'm not one to take pictures at a restaurant. Not that I lay any fault against those that do, it's just not something I have the chutzpa to do. But last night, with a fellow blogger in tow, I did it. It was the fault of the bruschetta, which I realized I couldn't sell you on without a snapshot. So, case A: Bruschetta
I honestly I can't say better than my partner in crime @ChefMelissa tweeted: "will dream about tonight's bruschetta @ Pizza Art Cafe w/@GreenSugar1. Holy fresh bread, ricotta salata & local organic tomatoes, Batman!" Their bread is absolutely incredible. Baked on the spot on demand: light, fluffy with a good smokey crunchy crust.
Case B: pizza. Capricciosa is a favorite of mine. I think it reminds me of those rudimentary moments in flavor recognition when I noticed what green olive did to my palate vs. mushrooms vs. artichoke vs. ham. That's a whole lot of toppings and PIZZA Art does the "a lot" bits well. I'm quickly realizing, I'm a toppings girl. Take me to Piece and somehow I end up with a $35 pie because you need goat cheesewithyoursausagebutohdon'tforgetaboutthered peppersandwhileyou'reatitwhataboutmaybesomeolives grilledonionsgarlicextrasauceTHELISTGOESON. Whew. Tonight, since we're both a bit overly local/foodie/seasonal and overly meated this week, grilled seasonal veggie pizza sounds like it will hit the spot. I'm often one to put zucchini, onions and mushrooms on my homemade pizza, but celery and carrots? Now that's a lot. And it's good.
Here's the truth of it: with 3 people working the whole place (two servers and one chef working the oven in the front of the restaurant) you need time. Lots of it. Bruschetta and a pizza to split is plenty for two, even if you've arrived post-workout and it's 2 hours past your normal feasting time. Plus I don't mean to be crass, and normally don't prefer to market foods based on price (as a member of Slow Food I find this to be a cultural problem worth fighting against) but damn if dinner for two minus a bottle of wine wasn't under 20$. So this is a gem of Lincoln Square. Places like this that do what they do well, being homemade, seasonal and local at a ridiculously reasonable rate. And while I want to keep these places secret, we have a recession on and they need to survive. Forget Marcello's, and God forbid you head out to something else that's ridiculously cheap and terrible and I won't even mention here. You can do better. Haul yourself to the Rockwell Brown Line stop. Walk one block south, wave hi to Blago and stroll a half block north of the tracks for some cosy artsy, Neapolitan wood burning flame pizza.