What is the most important component of an extraordinary pizza? Is it the dough, the cheese, the toppings or the sauce? In 1998 a man named Robert Garvey decided the answer to that question was the dough, and with that thought the long quest to develop impeccable pizza crust began (but don’t worry he paid attention to the quality of the other components too). The former New Yorker turned Chicagoan spent almost twenty years testing out different recipes on friends and family. Once he solidified his craft, he opened the first restaurant using his namesake, Robert’s Pizza Company. The fifty-seat space, located in the Streeterville neighborhood, boasts a full bar (try the gin mojito) and three levels.
So what does just under two decades of New York-style pizza evolution taste like? It’s good stuff. The crust is crispy, soft and serves as a delicious vessel on which to transport the savory cheese and other tantalizing ingredients from plate to mouth. With a selection of pizzas as jaw-droppingly inviting as the next, scheduling time to order everything on the menu is the most difficult part.
One of the most popular items is the Fennel Sausage and Slow Roasted Caramelized Onion Pizza, and with one whiff I knew why. The crust holds up to the red sauce, fresh mozzarella, sausage and caramelized onions, and the sweetness of the onions diversifies the flavor from its savory counterparts. The brick oven is apparent in every bite. With the decision to omit stovetops from the kitchen, this baking chamber is always hard at work. It is a hearty, traditional pizza with a wickedly good artisanal spin.
The Brussels Sprout and Applewood Smoked Bacon Pizza is a brilliant specialty pie that combines a medley of out-of-the-box ingredients. Topped with dates, smoked mozzarella and drizzled with a balsamic glaze, this is a sweet meets savory gem. Each bite is robust, salty and toothsome — and somehow it doesn’t feel heavy. The topping to cheese ratio is spot on. The pièce de résistance is the Asparagus, Cherry Tomato and Prosciutto Pizza. It is light, and the saltiness of the prosciutto complements the pungent asparagus. Every so often Robert’s features an off menu pizza and I’m crossing my fingers that this one becomes a permanent fixture in the already stellar lineup. If it doesn’t, its cousin the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza is a delicious alternative.
Robert’s also offers six non-pizza items, including three appetizers and three salads. The Roasted Beet and Baby Kale Salad is heavenly. Topped with goat cheese, pickled red onions, candied walnuts and tossed in a champagne vinaigrette dressing, it gave me one more reason to celebrate their coming soon expansion into lunch hour. And while they haven’t set an official date for this, Robert’s Pizza Company is a testament to the idea that the best things are worth waiting for (including delivery, which is also coming soon).
355 East Ohio Street, Chicago, IL 60611