Wednesday, August 7, 2019

You can skip Rome; Bonci pizza is here

     The beauty of Chicago is that you never have to go anywhere else. Paris? We’ve got plenty of French Impressionists at The Art Institute. India? Stroll down Devon Avenue. Not precisely Mumbai; but close enough. Throw in Chinatown and the Taste of Peru and you might as well stay put. A week in Thailand, and I never ate a single mouthful tastier than anything off the menu at Star of Siam. I’ve been from Antigua to Zurich and everywhere in between. Trust me. Put your feet up. Relax. You’re not missing anything. 

Matt Warman, manager of the Bonci Pizzeria,
161 N. Sangamon, cuts a slice of mushroom.
     OK, Rome is nice. There is nothing here like Michelangelo’s fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That alone is worth the airfare. Huge, gorgeous, and — as if that isn’t enough— after you’ve spent a morning in stunned awe of the iconic masterpiece, you can stroll over to Bonci’s Pizzarium on Via della Meloria, just outside the walls of the Vatican.
     And the pizza there ... like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, words can’t convey the experience.
     We rubes tend to think of pizza as coming in two forms: deep dish and flat. Being Chicagoans, we endlessly argue over which is the true pizza, where stuffed pizza fits in (answer: it doesn’t) and should flat be cut into wedges or squares (answer: who cares?). We have no clue there is a third, entirely different type of pizza, represented by Bonci: light, airy crust, with all sorts of toppings — over 1,500 — you must try, served al taglio, as the Italians say, “by the cut.” You tell them exactly how much you want, sampling an inch of this, two inches of that.  

     It’s worth flying all the way to Rome just to ... oh wait. Never mind. Turns out Bonci opened a second location at 161 N. Sangamon St. two years ago next week. (Yes, yes, it escaped my notice; I’m not New Pizza Parlor Central). Even if you know it’s there, do you know why, with the entire world to choose from, Bonci picked a spot 10 minutes from the Sun-Times for its second location?
     How did that happen?
     “I worked with Gabriele,” said Rick Tasman, president of BonciUSA, referring to Gabriele Bonci, “the Michelangelo of pizza.” “He had been wanting to come to the 
United States.”

To continue reading, click here.
One secret of Bonci pizza is flour flown in from Italy. 


  1. From the bonciusa website: "All debit and credit cards accepted. Sorry, no cash payments accepted."

    No wonder the millennials were the first to know about Bonci coming to Chicago.


  2. I lived in Rome for a year well before Bonci's came into being. What I learned about pizza in Italy is that there are many different styles depending on where you are. Rome has the greatest varieties as it draws from all over the country.
    The further south you travel the more you'll find what Americans are accustomed to. The further north you go, the less tomato but the more exotic.
    The best pizza for me was the simplest. There were pizza stands all around the city where they sold either white (bianco) or red (rossa) by the slice (square). Very plain but very delicious.
    Never found deep dish pizza in Italy.


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