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Preview: Forno Rosso

West Loop
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The West Loop in Chicago has become a Mecca for innovative and incredible food in the city. Every restaurant has something that sets it apart, which is why I was excited when we were invited to dine at Forno Rosso, a new restaurant in the West Loop.

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Forno Rosso is owned and run by Nick Nitti, an Italian pizza aficionado in every sense of the word. Nick trained in the art of pizza napoletana under one of Napol’s best Pizzaiolos and has brought the art of making Neapolitan pizzas here to Chicago. Now, let me clarify: these pizzas are not your run of the mill pizzas—they are gourmet, with ingredients like truffle pâté, imported Italian mozzarella, and cooked with precision that is admirable.

Nick was kind enough to take the time to talk to Cameron and I, and gave us the rundown of how you make a Neapolitan pizza in the wood burning oven (which only takes 70 seconds, believe it or not), the careful selection of the imported ingredients, and more.

My favorite tidbit was the fact that there is a temperature and humidity controlled room that replicates the environment of Naples, Italy to ensure the handmade dough rises exactly how it would in Italy—Nick didn’t leave a single detail left unfinished when he was designing this location.

Nick is so passionate about the food, the ingredients, the preparation, that both Cameron and I decided we should just let Nick order for us.

For appetizers, Nick sent out two of his favorite: the Burrata, and the Verdure Miste.

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Burrata is mozzarella with a creamy, cheesy center. The toasted focaccia, basil, and tomato toppings made the appetizer exceptional and I ate much more than I should have, but I didn’t know the parade of food that was coming our way.

The Verdure Miste was next and it was marinated eggplant, grilled artichokes, sundried tomatoes, spicy calabrian peppers, and olives. The recipe for this dish has been passed down from his family for decades, and his mother to this day, has never written it down. Instead, she comes to the restaurant and makes it herself—I love family run businesses!

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The first pizza to arrive at the table was the Tartufo pizza and it smelled even more delicious than it looked—and it looked incredible. The hand-tossed dough was covered with black truffle pâté, Forno Rosso’s special made sausage, basil, mozzarella, and porcini mushrooms. By far, this was my favorite pizza of the evening. The sausage was flavorful and plentiful, and the truffle flavor wasn’t overpowering—I highly recommend this pizza.

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Soon to follow was the Mais pizza with wood fired corn on the cob, fior di latte, Italian prosciutto, and finished with butter. The corn was an absolute surprise—I had never had corn on a pizza before but the corn definitely added something to the pizza and the flavor. The white sauce was delicious and was a much more mildly flavored pizza than the Tartufo.
By this point, Cam and I were nearly brimming, but Nick informed us we had to save room for two more pizzas. TWO MORE PIZZAS?

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Next up was a pizza that looked more traditional to what Cam and I are used to eating: the Bufalina pizza. Traditional red sauce, with buffalo mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and basil. This was Cam’s favorite, but I think that’s because it was the first pizza option we had with red sauce. I have to agree, it was delicious, but the Tartufo still was king in my book.

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Last but certainly not least was the Marinara pizza, which was the most traditionally non-traditional pizza I had ever had. It was hand tossed dough with San Marzano’s tomato sauce, oregano, garlic, sea salt, and basil. Notice, there was no cheese anywhere near this pizza.

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Not that Cam or I needed any more to eat, but we were presented with two desserts: a Nutella pizza and a flute limoncello.

The Nutella pizza was great with sliced banana and nutella as the filling, and topped with powdered sugar and strawberries.

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The flute limoncello was something I had never had before but was very impressed with. It is a lemon flavored gelato, served in a champagne glass with raspberries. Nick makes this dessert every couple of days and says it is time consuming, but a fan favorite. I definitely see why!

All in all, Forno Rosso is worth the visit. Whether you’re a pizza fanatic, or an Italian food enthusiast, Forno Rosso will wow you with quality, and quantity.

Forno Rosso
1048 W Randolph St,
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 243-6000

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