I recently had the opportunity to join a group of pizzeria owners, operators, etc. at the Pizza Executive Summit in Chicago. It was a fun-filled experience that lasted from Sunday-Tuesday, and I was so excited to be a part of it. I will be posting more details on the event, but wanted to highlight the first part of the trip with Chicago Pizza Tours. John Porter led our private group of appx 35 participants to three pizzerias around the city on a trolley! Our first stop was Pizano’s and the last stop was Bacino’s, both places I have written about in the past. I wanted to dedicate this post to our experience at Coalfire Pizza in the West Loop.
Coalfire Pizza is located on West Grand Avenue, away from the ‘neighborhood’ feel, but situated on a street with some other notable restaurants nearby (The Twisted Spoke, Bella Notte, Butterfly Sushi, etc). They have been around since 2007, and there was a huge buzz when they hit the Chicago Pizza Scene. Coalfire serves a variation of Neopolitan pizza in a high-ceiling ~50 seat establishment.
Since we arrived with the pizza tour, a variety of pizzas were brought out, and everyone had the opportunity to sample a few creations. We started with the Margherita pizza:
One of the first responses was that Coalfire’s toppings are not so generous. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They use an appropriate amount of sauce & cheese which leaves you craving another bite. The crust- pefrectly charred & floppy. Also ,there is a fairly wide edge on the crust, said to mimic a ‘handle’ so that the diner can really get a grasp on the pizza. Everyone around me seemed to enjoy the pizza, but they did have some gripes about the spare use of ingredients. Then again, it is just an opinion.
The next pizza was their white pizza, and usually I’m willing to give no-sauce pizzas a try, but I was not a fan of the ricotta cheese. The cheese was a bit overwhelming, and you can tell by it’s complete coverage on the pizza. Definitely more than was on the margherita. Although this was not my favorite, I do applaud Coalfire for keeping the pizza crisp throughout. It didn’t get soggy at all.
After the white pizza, I was anxious to try their sausage and definitely glad I did. It was packed with fennel, and I was completely alright with that. The sausage pizza was a great end to our experience at Coalfire, and I really appreciated the way it was made.
I liked the pizza at Coalfire, especially because I enjoy an italian-style Za. Also, I was honored to eat with my fellow diners at the event. They were definitely more critical as pizza owners/operators, but most agreed that Coalfire was their favorite stop on the tour. I loved sitting with the pair from Monical’s Pizza and also talking with Anthony Rosati of Rosati’s pizza. For me, these people are celebrities because they represent successful pizzerias and were willing to talk to a mere pizza blogger like myself:)
Look forward to more posts and also a summary of the Pizza Executive Summit!