Almost everyone loves pizza, but you can never truly appreciate it until you have the best, which is made in its home- Napoli. Very good pizza is made elsewhere, but it's at its best in southern Italy. On a visit there, I asked "Why?". Many did mention the wheat, but all said it was the water. Only natural spring water is used to make the dough. I will always remember the pizza there, with every establishment making the most perfect crust, amazing sauce, and fresh ingredients. The picture to the right is of a typical pizza made in Napoli.
Now on to Spacca Napoli. My wife and I walked in and were seated promptly. Our server was peppy and announced the specials before retrieving a Peroni for me and some Prosecco for my wife. Our appetizers were then brought to us- a Bufala Mozzarella salad with ripe red tomatoes and very large leaves of delicious basil drizzled with olive oil, and an Insalata di Mare- calamari, shrimp, and cuttlefish with chopped celery. The dish was a bit flavorless and not quite as fresh as others I've had. Our server pressed us about four times for our pizza order (it seems as though they are coached to "turn and burn" the tables), and we finally gave it after ordering a bottle of Cantina del Taburno "Fedelis" Aglianico. Aglianico is the special red grape of southern Italy. It can create big bodied, fruity, earthy, long lived tannic wines. This one was satisfactory with ripe dark plum and espresso flavor accompanied by slightly grippy tannins, but with a medium minus length and finish. They give small drinking cups with all wine, and while I believe this is taverna style, I also think if you order a bottle you should be given proper stemware.
Our pizza came out VERY fast- I believe in less than five minutes! This usually does not bode well, and did not in this case. The crust was soft and tasty, but had more than a few burn marks, which affected the flavor. The middle was still a bit rare. I attribute this to two factors: 1) Pizza not left in long enough, away from the flame, and 2) the sauce. Tomato sauce should be rich, thick, and deep red. This was not the case, as it was thin and not very flavorful. Also, the small amount of basil used was thrown together instead of lovingly place atop the pizza. Plus, the mushrooms atop my wifes pizza were definitely not quality. They seemed to be drowned button mushrooms, while I would have used fresh cremini as an ingredient.
On to dessert. We shared a tiramisu, which had a fluffy sweet mascarpone top over slightly over marinated savoiardi biscuits. Our bill was brought to us before we could order coffee, but we did anyway. Overall, we felt Spacca Napoli tries to rush you in for some pizza, and back out. The dough is quite good, but the making of the pizza along with the ingredients make it fall far short of Napoletano style. I love the wine list which is almost totally comprised of southern Italian wines. Whites include Fiano, Greco di Tufo, and Falanghina, while reds of Primitivo, Aglianico, Nero d'Avola, and white and red Lacryma Christi are offered. If you are in the neighborhood, try it out, but remember there are better options in Chicago.