One of Europe's most famous pizza restaurants expands to the U.S. for the first time
Gabriele Bonci, a veritable pizza demigod in his homeland of Italy, is bringing his famed Roman cuisine to the U.S. for the first time with a Chicago outpost of Bonci Pizzarium in the West Loop. Unique to Chicago, a pizza-loving city with various styles represented from deep-dish to thin-crust, Bonci’s approach features Roman-style slices cut by scissors “al taglio-style” and served in a casual counter-service environment.
Gabriele Bonci is one of the most respected names in pizza
In a city populated with pizzerias of every ilk, from caramelized pan pizza at Pequod’s and blistered pies at Coalfire to Neapolitan staples like Spacca Napoli, the Roman-style slices at Bonci are a refreshingly novel addition. In Italy, Bonci developed international renown for his al taglio pizza, which is cut with scissors and served by the slice with various toppings. Using the freshest ingredients, the chef has created more than 1,500 recipes, and he’s brought that creativity to Chicago’s West Loop. Custom-cut into rectangular slices that vary in size, pizzas range between 20 flavors each day, depending on seasonal ingredients. The crust is crispy and rich, a tad thicker and breadier than typical thin-crust pies around town, so as to stand up to the various toppings. It’s dished out from a quick-service counter and priced by weight.
The crust is crispy, sturdy and more breadlike than most pizzas found in Chicago
While much of the menu will change regularly, some examples to look for include potato-mozzarella-rosemary pizza, one with egg, bacon and pecorino and another with chicken, artichoke, olives and black pepper. There’s even a recipe with hummus, broccoli, olives and tomato pesto, and for those feeling lavish, Bonci's also been known to serve pizza with cherries and foie gras.
The restaurant will augment its menu with sandwiches, salads and suppli, Roman rice and pasta balls filled with cheese and meat, similar to arancini. To drink, Bonci keeps it simple with an abbreviated supply of craft beer and wine.
As for the space, it's no frills. The casual, narrow restaurant has a few stools at counters along the window and kitchen. The vibe is decidedly rustic, with painted white brick and wooden crates lining the walls.
Bonci plans to augment his pizzas with small plates, sandwiches and salads
Bonci is open Monday through Thursday from 11 AM–10 PM, Friday through Saturday from 11 AM–11 PM and Sunday from 11 AM–9 PM. The restaurant is cash-less and only accepts debit and credit cards as payment.
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All photos by Arianna Giuntini