photo credit: Christina Slaton
Chicago may be known for deep dish and tavern-style pizza, but the city’s pizza scene is so much more than that. See: Detroit-style, Quad City-style, or whatever style the heat-lamp “pizza” you get in Terminal B at Midway qualifies as. No matter your preference, the Neapolitan pies at Spacca Napoli should be at the top of your list. They’re arguably the best in the city, and if you visit during the summer, you’ll be sitting on one of Ravenswood’s nicest patios, tucked away on a quiet tree-lined side street. Honestly, a visit any time of year is warranted—the food is that good.
photo credit: Sandy Noto
If you’re not a pizza enthusiast and just showed up at the address your friend texted you, the menu has a few salads and antipasti like grilled octopus to tide you over. But you should be coming here for the pizza first and foremost. Little touches put them over the top: sides of chili oil, and pies that come out uncut so you don’t end up with a pile of soggy dough on your plate. This is true even if you order a pizza like the Pistacchio, a specialty loaded with a heavy pistachio cream, cheese, sausage, and basil—the addition of the spicy oil helps cut through the richness for an unbelievable bite. Spacca Napoli also offers to make any of their pizzas on gluten-free crust, which is a nice option to have, and definitely tastes better than cauliflower versions haunting freezers at home nationwide. In fact, no matter what you order, it will be on a thin, puffy, crust that’s the perfect combo of charred and chewy.
photo credit: Christina Slaton
That’s largely thanks to a big, mosaic-tiled, wood-burning oven open to the dining room that’s as much art installation as it is functional. The warmth from the oven and cheerful yellow walls make Spacca Napoli a cozy spot for dinner during a dark Chicago winter. It’s a small mercy that you can make reservations for their indoor seating to avoid ending up with frostbite from waiting outside. If you can swing a visit during the summer months, go early in the evening to grab a seat on the first-come first-served patio. Spacca Napoli has a lot going for it, and locals know it judging by what can be long wait times, especially on the weekends. We promise the wait will be worth it.
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Yes, you could probably attempt to recreate this dish at home with burrata you picked up from Trader Joe’s or Jewel, but trust us when we say it’s just not the same. Something about the quality of the cheese (rumor has it that it’s flown in from Italy weekly) combined with a little olive oil and salt just hits differently.
This pizza shows that even the simplest ones are done well at Spacca Napoli. If you’re not feeling any of the more creative options on the menu, you can't go wrong with this choice.
If you want to get just a little bit fancier than the Margherita, go for this pizza where the quality of ingredients really stands out.
Funghi e Salsiccia Pizza
Mushrooms can be polarizing, but this pizza will convert anyone on the fence about them. The classic combination of red sauce, basil, and sausage with the addition of mushrooms will, quite frankly, push you over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard.
Sometimes we’re in the mood for something a little spicy to cut through the richness of a pizza. In that case, the Diavola is our go-to order. The Calabrese sopressata has just the right amount of heat to keep us from falling asleep under a blanket of grease.
This is arguably one of the most interesting pizzas on the menu, but be prepared for no red sauce. Also, no white sauce. This is literally a pizza covered in pistachio cream with sausage and basil. It’s equal parts creamy, salty, and just a little bit heavy, but worth ordering to share.
If you’re the type of person who always has a little bit more room for dessert (like we are), get the tiramisu. It's creamy, simultaneously dense and light, and another perfect example of how a staples are done incredibly well here.