Full disclosure, based on my previous articles, readers like yourselves will know I’m obsessed with Italian cuisine. From pastas, arancini, panna cotta and salads — yes, even salads — my love for Italian food spans far and wide.
No matter your preference, Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company (465 N. McClurg Court) is a no-B.S. restaurant that’s producing pies that redefined my expectations.
Robert Garvey, chef and owner of Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company, said he moved from New York to Chicago and just hated the pizza here. He missed the chewy crust, the slight grease from the bubbling cheese and the sweet tomato sauce.
“He ordered from a place one night and specifically requested triangle cuts, not square,” said Dana Garvey, his wife and business partner. “The pizza shows up and it’s square cut. Robert refused to accept the delivery.”
This sparked something in Robert’s head. If he couldn’t find a pizza he’d enjoy, he was going to make one. That was about 20 years ago. May 17 of this year, Robert and Dana opened up their pizzeria.
Located in Streeterville along the River East Art Center Promenade, the front windows overlook the river. Tall tables and chairs cling to the far sides of the rectangular entrance, while bar stools sit adjacent to smaller, more intimate tables. Exposed brick, a wooden ceiling and a repurposed leather bar counter give Robert’s Pizza a neighborhood feel.
I felt welcomed from the moment I entered. Robert and Dana said they want to make Robert’s a place for everyone to feel homey in, no matter the occasion.
“We started having dinner parties in our condo and we want to maintain that feeling with our guests [at Robert’s],” Dana said.
I wandered around the front bar until I realized there was a whole other dining area behind the bar. The main dining area can easily fit a hundred or so foodies, and a private room is also available. With a full view of the kitchen, the entire pizza-making process is transparent from start to finish.
Robert is an engineer by trade and a food lover by passion. Throughout his journey of crafting the perfect pizza dough, Robert said he’s had a fair share of mishaps. When he finally created the “perfect” dough, he went back to the drawing board and wanted to make it even better. The dough at Robert’s Pizza was 20 years in the making.
Savannah and Jose, some of my closest friends, accompanied me on this pizza quest. I ordered a Zombie Dust by 3 Floyds Brewing (surprise, I ordered a beer). Savannah, not wanting summer to end, sipped on an Aperol Spritz and Jose had a Riverside Refresher.
The three of us settled on an order of the arancini and the duck prosciutto pizza served with Calabrian chili peppers and mozzarella.
Arancini are deep-fried balls of risotto served on a small pool of house-made tomato sauce with microgreens sprinkled on top. Biting into the arancini was crunchy and creamy. The risotto was perfectly tender and the addition of parmesan complimented the slightly sweet and tart tomato sauce. As we fought for the last arancini, the pizza pie arrived.
Much like a full moon, I couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer beauty of the pizza. The cheese bubbled ever-so-slightly, to reveal the sauce underneath. The duck was mingling on top, becoming one with the cheese. The dough was perfectly charred on the outside and maintained its structure as I took the first slice.
The first bite was chewy and soft. I could taste the subtle differences in every bite. The middle of the slice was more crisp but still had a slight chew. I could taste the spiciness from the Calabrian pepper with the rich smoke of the duck. The sauce complimented every ingredient of the pizza. The crust had a crunch on the outside but a chewy center, making me crave more with every bite. Before I knew it, the three of us devoured the entire pizza. We ordered another one.
The fact a pizza silenced us for the entirety of our meal says more than anything I can write.
Like the creation of Robert’s dough, this pizza took me on a journey.
After trying pizza all over the U.S. and having the real deal in Italy, I can say Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company is one of the best pizzas I have ever had. I don’t say that often, but when a restaurant can not only impress me, but two of my closest foodie friends, you know they aren’t just talk.
The price range for the pizzas is anywhere between $18-$25 and cocktails range from $8-$12. For the menu, visit www.robertspizzacompany.com, and grab yourself a pizza that will make your jaw drop.