Chicago Pizza Just Got A Facelift

I’m a foodie and a Chicagoan – luckily those compliment each other well. Chicago is known for their food innovation, the hottest trends, the incredible chefs and of course, our pizza. At any given day our “must-have” pizza joints have a line around the block, yet locals and tourists alike will wait hours to get their mouths around a slice of yummy Chicago pie. And, who can blame them?

Pizza, one of my favorite dishes, was recently removed from my diet due to some unknown food allergies. To my good fortune the amazing team over at Rossopomodoro, the official pizza partner for Eataly Chicago, invited me and my son to try out their four new doughs – one of which is gluten and egg free! Eataly, a newer Chicago staple, is an Italian marketplace featuring a plethora of amazing italian delicacies, cafes, counters, restaurants, and a cooking school. At Eataly you can eat, shop and learn.

Prior to my Eataly visit, I was honored to connect with Simone Falco of Naples, Executive Chef & Owner of Rossopomodoro West Village and President and CEO of Rossopomodoro at Eataly USA, and ask him a few questions.

Simone Falco was born in into into a family of sportsman and entrepreneurs. When Simone grew older he became a rugby player and obtained a PhD from the University of Naples Federico II, one of the oldest Universities in Europe. Since he was very young, Simone has worked in the family company to learn the proper skills needed to run a successful restaurant business, leading into the launch and development of several new restaurant locations in Italy and abroad. Rossopomodoro in New York City’s West Village – an outpost location of the Rossopomodoro’s U.S. operations at Eataly New York (Flatiron & Financial District), Chicago, Boston, and San Paolo – has been carrying on the tradition ever since its opening in 2014.

He designed the restaurant’s menu to embody the brands manifesto and presents dishes that are simple, seasonal, straightforward, healthy and flavorful – and he goes way beyond just pizza & pasta. Simone would describe his personal style as classic Neapolitan.

I started out the interview asking Chef Falco what passions of his led him to pizza.

“Growing up in Naples, pizza was our breakfast every weekend. How could I not be attracted to pizza?”

As someone with food allergies and a passion for health, it’s refreshing to see more and more offerings that cater to a healthful lifestyle without giving up the things we love – like pizza. What’s the secret to maintaining great taste yet being healthy also?

“The secret is high quality ingredients (wild, organic, no chemicals) and good sourcing.”

As you know, Chicago is certainly a pizza town. What excites you most about these four new kinds of dough and how are they different from the others we can find in the city?

“We decided to launch the four doughs in Chicago because it is THE pizza city. We wanted to bring something truly Neapolitan to Chicago and something different than everyone is used to.”

Last question, and it’s the obligatory one. You may know that New York and Chicago have an ongoing pizza war. So, which would you say is your favorite between the two signature styles? Chicago or New York?

“My favorite is Neapolitan of course but I have an appreciation for all types. Different pizza has different uses. Sometimes I crave a New York slice and sometimes I crave deep dish. Chicago pizza is more of treat because I live in New York.”

Hearing his story and passion for pizza, I was thrilled met his team and head Chef Simone Lavarone at the Chicago Eataly location. While there he prepared several pizzas showcasing their new doughs.

My favorite was this little slice of heaven with a zucchini cream instead of tomato base. Perfection.

There new doughs now available are:


  • The Original Pizza Napoletana
  • This classic-style pizza from Napoli made with “Type 00” flour is the most elegant and complex of all. The long leavening time (24-plus hours) paired with the brief cooking time produces a pizza with a thin, elastic center and a charred, airy crust.


  • Old World Innovation
  • This dough is the precursor to the pizza we know today, originally made from leftover bread dough from bakeries in the suburbs of Napoli. The “Type 1” whole grain flour and slow-rising process yield a slightly sweet and hearty dough.


  • Classic yet Crispy
  • This contemporary take on pizza is typical of the coastal towns near Napoli (think: Amalfi Coast). Made with the same “Type 00” flour as the Classica, this dough proofs longer and cooks longer resulting in a lighter, crispier crust that is soft in the middle and never disappoints.


  • Light and Gluten-Free
  • This airy, slightly caramelized crust is made from an innovative blend of corn, rice, and gluten-free buckwheat flours, offering all the flavors of the real pizza napoletana with a lighter base! While the dough is gluten-free, our environment is not, meaning trace amounts of gluten may be present — it is not certified for those with celiac disease.

Needless to say, the pizzas looked beautiful and tasted even better than one can imagine. This is truly pizza reinvented!

My six-year-old, the notorious picky eater, enjoyed the pizzas so much that he asked if we could take them all home to save for later. Bonus – Sunday’s kids get $9 pizzas where they can pick their own toppings and the pizza comes in fun shapes like a heart, bunny, fish or butterfly. How’s that for family friendly?

Eataly Chicago has many spectacular summer promotions and events happening, so mark your calendars and make your way over to see Chef Simone and the Eataly team for some delicious game-changing pizza. Tell them I sent you!

Would You Like Some Pizza With Your Plastic?

What does that even mean? Well, let me tell you.

I once put a frozen pizza in the oven on top of a PLASTIC cutting board thinking….well, actually, I wasn’t thinking. Clearly, I had no clue what the hell I was doing. I saw frozen pizzas sitting on that same cutting board many times before and for some reason I thought my roommate had cooked it on there, too. Pathetic, I know. I was a 26-year-old living in a tiny apartment in the city and I’d been using my oven for storage for the better part of six years.

Okay, back to my pizza.


After I slid it in the oven, I sat on the couch and patiently waited as my stomach grumbled. A few minutes later – nose-burning toxic fumes crept into my air space. The smell was coming from the kitchen. I rushed over to open the oven in fear that my delicious pizza was burning, but as it turned out, the plastic cutting board was burning and taking my pizza down with it.

I grabbed an oven mitt and had to pull out both oven racks because the plastic melted into quite a beautiful art piece bonding the racks together. Luckily, I pulled out the racks just before the plastic reached the bottom of the oven, otherwise the melted plastic would have destroyed it.

My roommate ran into the living room when she heard me yelling profanities only to find me holding a mangled piece of plastic attached to metal – and my destroyed pizza. I looked at her and in all seriousness asked, “Do you think we can still eat it?”

Not kidding.

I realized at that moment I should have paid more attention to my mom in the kitchen. She always made delicious home cooked meals for us with such ease. From ages 18-29, I pretty much ate snack food or processed noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My staple items were ramen, crackers, turkey, cheese, pickles, breakfast bars, tortillas with butter and Red Bull. I know, I know. I was so healthy.

Once I got married I stumbled across an article that advised newly married couples to learn how to cook as it saves a ton of money. Money was something we needed, so I set out on a mission.

I called my mom immediately.

“Mom, how do I make chicken?”

Laughing, “What do you mean? You just buy it from the grocery.”

“No mom, like…cook it?”


“Do I put it in hot water? Will it taste bland?”

She signed. “Oh dear.”

She gave me a few pointers and told me I’d have to learn how to turn on the oven, too.

After our conversation I looked up some recipes online and started a long standing addiction with the Food Network. Thanks to Rachel Ray and a few other shows, I now knew how to turn my oven on – and use it!

Right about this time, I also began a decade long career in the hotel industry, with most of that time being in luxury hotels. I spent a lot of nights in the kitchen learning from renowned chefs and I eventually worked my way up to the Director of Catering position.

Yes, me, the girl who put a plastic cutting board in the oven to cook pizza.

Moral of this story? There’s hope for all of you who don’t even know how to boil water.

Now, I love to cook. People love to come over to my house to eat my food, too! I find prepping food to be therapeutic and seeing my family’s faces light up when they take that first bite makes my heart happy.

Because of my love for food and cooking, I’ve added a food section to the blog! I’ll share all my favorite recipes, many of which my very picky kids love to eat too. I promise there won’t be any plastic making it into your homemade pizza, either.

I’ll see you in the kitchen.

Bon Appetit!