spacca outside

spacca napoli from inside

While it’s true Chicago is traditionally known for its deep-dish pizza, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: this city makes a mean Neapolitan-style. Especially at Spacca Napoli.

Back in the days when we were trying every local bakery, my brother and I were also on a months-long quest to find the best pizza in Chicago, having gotten the idea from Chicago Magazine, which did a write-up on all the Neapolitan-style pizzerias in and around the city.

What I didn’t expect from this experiment, as a girl who has been known to crave frozen Tombstones from the grocery store, was that it would revolutionize the way I felt about pizza—not that I would stop liking the cheap kinds on lazy weeknights, but that, after having the smoky, thinner style considered a trademark in Italy, I would love this other kind much more.

Here’s how it’s made: A simple, thin round of dough is topped and slid into a hot, hot stone oven (we’re talking over 900 degrees Fahrenheit) and baked for less than two minutes over an oak-wood fire. When it emerges, the result is crispy, but not like a cracker—more chewy and tender, with a swollen lip around the edges and a wet, cheesy center. If done right, the pizza will have faint hints of char from the fast heat and punches of fragrance from the tomatoes. At Spacca Napoli in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood, a pizzeria owned by Jonathan Goldsmith, pizzas are baked in an oven actually made in Naples, Italy, which cooks at 1200 (!) degrees Fahrenheit, amidst light golden walls with black and white photographs.

spacca napoli sign

You know, the law of averages says the more times you go to a restaurant, the greater your chances of having a bad experience. Yet, for me, the opposite has been true. Every visit gets better, from the winter night last February, when the restaurant seemed packed, but we were seated in five minutes, to the summer when we took our friend Sonja, my college roommate who was coming through town for a few days, and we sat and talked, leisurely, on a slow afternoon.

pizza margherita


spacca napoli

I’ve been putting off posting about this place because, honestly, I didn’t think I could write about it without over-gushing.

However. After a recent Saturday when we capped off pizzas with risotto gelato, a sweet, creamy base with hints of vanilla and tiny bits of chewy risotto mixed throughout, the sound of the Andrews Sisters and Ella Fitzgerald in the background, I realized it was finally time. I couldn’t keep this to myself any longer.

ristotto gelato

And, throwing caution to the wind, I’ll just tell you this: I love this restaurant. I love the food, the service, the way it’s always busy at nights but always able to seat me. It is the #1 place I take friends. And if I could find a job down the street, I would move there, in a heartbeat, just to walk by its orange-colored exterior, inhaling its fresh, yeasty dough, looking in at its charming dining area, ready for another slice.

Spacca Napoli
Ravenswood, Chicago

1769 West Sunnyside
Chicago, IL 60640

Open Daily Lunch (W – Sat) and Dinner (Tues – Sun)

Lunch Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (W – Sat)
Dinner Hours: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Tues – Thu)
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (Fri – Sat)
12:00 Noon – 9:00 p.m. (Sunday)

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Marie

    I totally agree with you, in fact I was planning on doing a post on Spacca Napoli my self.
    I love their authentic pizza, have been their many times, this is my daughters neighborhood. Lucky her! Great blog!

  2. kickpleat

    Ahhh, that pizza looks amazing…but more amazing is that gelato!

  3. Susan

    You have made me want to go to Chicago

  4. TJ

    The pizza sounded good, but the gelato REALLY is making me hungry over here!!

  5. E.P.

    OMG. I haven’t had Neapolitan-style pizza in SO long. (Since I was in Italy, actually, is the last time.) This looks AND sounds fantastic!

  6. Shannalee

    Oh, I wish I could meet all of you there next weekend, to sit around and enjoy the pizza (and gelato!) together. Really.

  7. Whitney

    I used to live on Montrose and Clark which is only a few blocks from here. Sadly, I only went once but it was fantastic.

    I need to go back.

    [PS I just found your blog from the Kitchen Sink. Glad to find another Chicagoan!]

  8. Pingback: this life we have | food loves writing

  9. Scott

    Is the risotto gelato a regular ietm on the menu? I used to eat it every day one summer in Rome but have never been able to find it anywhere else in the world.

  10. Shannalee

    Scott, I’m pretty sure it was a special, but it wouldn’t hurt to contact Spacca Napoli and inquire! They definitely know what they’re doing!

  11. Pingback: and here we are, with babka | chocolate babka | Food Loves Writing

  12. Pingback: Sweet Tomato Jam + Grilled Cheese | Food Loves Writing

  13. Pingback: thin, chewy pizza crust | Food Loves Writing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>