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  • Bonci USA

    Post #1 - August 17th, 2017, 8:54 am
    Post #1 - August 17th, 2017, 8:54 am Post #1 - August 17th, 2017, 8:54 am
    Got to Bonci in the Randolph St area last night. Couldn't be happier that they've chosen Chicago for their first not-in-Rome location.

    Customers were packed shoulder-to-shoulder at 7:30pm last night (Wed). But it wasn't chaotic; someone was right inside the door, clearly explaining to everyone how the operation worked. It's "deli-style": when you enter, you're given a number. When your number is called, you order your pizza from someone behind the counter. When you're done ordering, you're given a receipt to take to the register and pay. When your pizza is ready (they slice and heat it), they call your receipt number and you pick it up.

    I had the "pizza club", which is wet scrambled eggs, tomato, lettuce, thinly-sliced ham between the pizza crust (sliced twice so that you have a crispy top, crispy bottom, and the soft chewy focaccia as the center layer of the club). Oh, and copious amounts of mayo (kewpie?). I had to get it because egg+mayo sandwiches are the greatest thing ever, and this rendition was no exception.

    Go there, but if you like your legendary food icons, get there fast, because Gabriele Bonci himself is casting a commanding shadow on the operation. At one point, he delivered a sermon on the "suppli" (fried rice ball with gooey insides), and how they are a beloved memory from childhood and mama. It was crazy charming.

    the margherita
    Image

    the counter
    Image

    the man
    Image

    Bonci USA
    161 N Sangamon Street
    Chicago, Illinois, IL 60607
    (312) 243-4016
  • Post #2 - August 17th, 2017, 10:04 am
    Post #2 - August 17th, 2017, 10:04 am Post #2 - August 17th, 2017, 10:04 am
    Thanks for the excellent report.
    (And there are those who support your brave support of mayo.)
  • Post #3 - August 17th, 2017, 4:28 pm
    Post #3 - August 17th, 2017, 4:28 pm Post #3 - August 17th, 2017, 4:28 pm
    This place looks really cool, thank you for the report.

    Also we mayo lovers have to stick together. I have noticed a disturbing trend of mayo hatred among my peers that I cannot fathom.
  • Post #4 - August 18th, 2017, 9:36 am
    Post #4 - August 18th, 2017, 9:36 am Post #4 - August 18th, 2017, 9:36 am
    Here's a really informative 5min video from Lucky Peach about the original location:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZfV-jsFjKU
  • Post #5 - August 18th, 2017, 7:08 pm
    Post #5 - August 18th, 2017, 7:08 pm Post #5 - August 18th, 2017, 7:08 pm
    I was headed to Northwestern Cutlery to have knives sharpened today and figured it was my perfect excuse to try Bonci. If you haven't read about it yet it is the 2nd location of a famed pizzeria in Rome. Lots of bragging rights for Chicago that the we were chosen as the location for the only other one in the world.

    There was a line out the door as I imagined there would be. You take a number and wait to be called. We were told by the host that they were averaging about 2 minutes per ticket number. There were about 15 numbers in front of ours and the estimate was more or less correct.
    Once our number was called I felt a bit of pressure to quickly look at the choices in the glass display and make a decision. This will not be as much of a problem once the hype wears off as you'll be able to see the display without the throngs of people in front of it. There were many, many options (more than a dozen?)
    It was a very hard decision as they all had very interesting flavor combinations and looked delectable in the case.
    I selected a spicy eggplant, a 'nduja, and a cippolini with oven roasted tomatoes.
    This is Roman-style pan pizza and they slice the size you want with scissors to order. I got 3 slices that were about 2" wide.
    As you are ordering they are weighing your slices and then they hand you a receipt that you continue with down the counter and pay at the end while they are heating your pizza. Our total bill (for 2 with one soda) was $21. I thought that was totally reasonable. I expected it to be more expensive.
    We waited 3-4 minutes for our pizza to be heated and took it to go as the store front was crowded. We immediately ate it in the car and I was surprised at how wonderful the textures were. The very crisp bottom was complimented by the doughy yet pillowy interior and the toppings were top-notch.
    The spicy eggplant was spicy due to red pepper flakes and a copious amount of garlic that I thoroughly enjoyed. The cippolini was the surprise favorite due to the herbs and imported Italian cheese flavor.

    I am excited to go back when it's less crowded to enjoy sitting and eating there. Limited seats (all stool/counter seating) but many in the front and back face the pizza counter/ovens.




    Bonci (pronounced Bahn-chi)
    Address: 161 N Sangamon St, Chicago, IL 60607
    Mon-Thurs 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
    Fri-Sat 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
    Sun 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
    Phone: (248) 705-0402
    Senorita P.
  • Post #6 - August 28th, 2017, 7:05 am
    Post #6 - August 28th, 2017, 7:05 am Post #6 - August 28th, 2017, 7:05 am
    Stopped by over the weekend, came just as they were opening. Orderly process getting you in/out. The pizza is a worthwhile addition to Chicago's pizza landscape. Although they do takeout, the crust is best fresh out of the oven, so it doesn't travel as well. Still delicious, but not optimal. I was there about 15 minutes total and they were already rotating new flavors through as old ones were being depleted, so what you liked yesterday (or an hour ago) may not be in the case when you get there.
  • Post #7 - September 21st, 2017, 2:14 pm
    Post #7 - September 21st, 2017, 2:14 pm Post #7 - September 21st, 2017, 2:14 pm
    senoritap wrote:I was headed to Northwestern Cutlery to have knives sharpened today and figured it was my perfect excuse to try Bonci.


    These were my thoughts exactly. And today they came true. I thought the pizza exceeded even the Rome location I've been to many times. The bread was simply perfectly leavened, made the re-heating trip well, and supported the toppings admirably. I wonder whether this first splash into the US will result in an immediate high quality product with downturn over time. In any case, there was no line at 1pm. Had some margherita and funghi slices (portions). There were no downsides, although admittedly a small sample size.

    I will add that I generally don't like pizza al tavolo in Italy. It's more of a stuff your face with something cheap and keep moving. This pizza is definitely not that.
  • Post #8 - October 15th, 2017, 2:17 pm
    Post #8 - October 15th, 2017, 2:17 pm Post #8 - October 15th, 2017, 2:17 pm
    Like moth to flame I made my visit to Bonci USA, I thought it would be a case of “emperor’s new clothes” I was entirely wrong, crispy crackly bottom, airy interior, top-notch toppings, fell in love at first bite.

    Cherry tomato, garlic, parsley my favorite, and the least cheffy of what I ordered, though I'd happily eat any and or all again.

    Bonci1.jpg Bonci USA, Count me a Fan!
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - October 15th, 2017, 3:46 pm
    Post #9 - October 15th, 2017, 3:46 pm Post #9 - October 15th, 2017, 3:46 pm
    We were there maybe 20 minutes after you left. zucchini with lemon zest and burrata, n'duja with greens, and mushroom sausage and mozzarella were all outstanding. Cannot wait to go back.
  • Post #10 - October 16th, 2017, 8:22 am
    Post #10 - October 16th, 2017, 8:22 am Post #10 - October 16th, 2017, 8:22 am
    G Wiv wrote:Cherry tomato, garlic, parsley my favorite, and the least cheffy of what I ordered


    This was a revelation for me too.
  • Post #11 - October 16th, 2017, 9:32 am
    Post #11 - October 16th, 2017, 9:32 am Post #11 - October 16th, 2017, 9:32 am
    We went a couple of weeks ago as a party of 4 on a weekday evening around 6. Not very busy, though a steady stream of customers, almost all for takeout. Tried 10 or 12 different toppings by the time we were done (keep in mind that you can request as large or small a piece of each as you like, they cut to order). Did not take notes on which, sorry. All very good. I did note that they were changing the lineup as we were there - when one pizza is done, they do not automatically replace it with the same, particularly for the more cheffy offerings. I will surely go back. Even in the restaurant arena that is West Randolph, they should thrive.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #12 - October 16th, 2017, 2:05 pm
    Post #12 - October 16th, 2017, 2:05 pm Post #12 - October 16th, 2017, 2:05 pm
    We went for lunch a few weeks ago and were unimpressed. It wasn't that busy but the ordering setup is pretty bad and I can't imagine what it's like when it is packed. The time from ordering to receiving your slice is fairly long considering they were served barely above room temperature.

    I think our biggest complaint was that everything is underseasoned, except for the variety we tried with anchovy. The bread has a nice texture, but could also have used a bit more salt. Furthermore, I think the ratio of bread to topping is a bit off. I am willing to accept a thin amount of toppings for a less than sturdy neapolitan, but expect more when the pizza is baked on a more substantial crust.
  • Post #13 - October 16th, 2017, 4:40 pm
    Post #13 - October 16th, 2017, 4:40 pm Post #13 - October 16th, 2017, 4:40 pm
    I really liked the pizza. The ratio of toppings to bread can vary - I tried the one with meatballs and I think Romano or maybe pecorino cheese and it was hefty, basically like bread lasagna. I think it was meant to be heavy on the bolognese-like meatball topping, which was delicious and flavorful. I appreciated the deft treatment of the different toppings as well as the dough. Simple and each balanced in its own way. My favorite was the Margherita style.

    One interesting thing I noticed was they did not accept cash - only credit. First time I've seen that at a restaurant (especially in the low to mid level price range).
    Logan: Come on, everybody, wang chung tonight! What? Everybody, wang chung tonight! Wang chung, or I'll kick your ass!
  • Post #14 - October 16th, 2017, 4:45 pm
    Post #14 - October 16th, 2017, 4:45 pm Post #14 - October 16th, 2017, 4:45 pm
    bnowell724 wrote:One interesting thing I noticed was they did not accept cash - only credit. First time I've seen that at a restaurant (especially in the low to mid level price range).


    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... ut-of-luck
  • Post #15 - October 16th, 2017, 10:47 pm
    Post #15 - October 16th, 2017, 10:47 pm Post #15 - October 16th, 2017, 10:47 pm
    Lerdawg wrote:
    bnowell724 wrote:One interesting thing I noticed was they did not accept cash - only credit. First time I've seen that at a restaurant (especially in the low to mid level price range).


    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... ut-of-luck



    Interesting, thanks.
    Logan: Come on, everybody, wang chung tonight! What? Everybody, wang chung tonight! Wang chung, or I'll kick your ass!
  • Post #16 - October 17th, 2017, 10:01 am
    Post #16 - October 17th, 2017, 10:01 am Post #16 - October 17th, 2017, 10:01 am
    i haven't been to bonci yet, though the pizzas look fantastic. i'm finding it impossible to go to some of my favorite spots since fulton st. exploded with restaurants because parking is near impossible. i love going to graziano's and publican quality meats, but last time i tried i ended up skipping it- the only spot i could find was a meter at $4 for 1 hour, and i refused to pay that to run in for a sandwich..... i barely recognize what used to be my wholesale shopping area.... i'm really bummed.....
  • Post #17 - October 17th, 2017, 1:21 pm
    Post #17 - October 17th, 2017, 1:21 pm Post #17 - October 17th, 2017, 1:21 pm
    justjoan wrote:i haven't been to bonci yet, though the pizzas look fantastic. i'm finding it impossible to go to some of my favorite spots since fulton st. exploded with restaurants because parking is near impossible. i love going to graziano's and publican quality meats, but last time i tried i ended up skipping it- the only spot i could find was a meter at $4 for 1 hour, and i refused to pay that to run in for a sandwich..... i barely recognize what used to be my wholesale shopping area.... i'm really bummed.....


    I had this exact conversation with friends over the weekend
  • Post #18 - October 17th, 2017, 3:02 pm
    Post #18 - October 17th, 2017, 3:02 pm Post #18 - October 17th, 2017, 3:02 pm
    justjoan wrote:i haven't been to bonci yet, though the pizzas look fantastic. i'm finding it impossible to go to some of my favorite spots since fulton st. exploded with restaurants because parking is near impossible. i love going to graziano's and publican quality meats, but last time i tried i ended up skipping it- the only spot i could find was a meter at $4 for 1 hour, and i refused to pay that to run in for a sandwich..... i barely recognize what used to be my wholesale shopping area.... i'm really bummed.....


    Small consolation, but you can pay for fractional hours; just because the cost is expressed as hourly doesn't mean you can't pay $1 for 15 minutes.
  • Post #19 - October 17th, 2017, 4:12 pm
    Post #19 - October 17th, 2017, 4:12 pm Post #19 - October 17th, 2017, 4:12 pm
    spinynorman99 wrote:
    justjoan wrote:i haven't been to bonci yet, though the pizzas look fantastic. i'm finding it impossible to go to some of my favorite spots since fulton st. exploded with restaurants because parking is near impossible. i love going to graziano's and publican quality meats, but last time i tried i ended up skipping it- the only spot i could find was a meter at $4 for 1 hour, and i refused to pay that to run in for a sandwich..... i barely recognize what used to be my wholesale shopping area.... i'm really bummed.....


    Small consolation, but you can pay for fractional hours; just because the cost is expressed as hourly doesn't mean you can't pay $1 for 15 minutes.

    i know how the meters work- but the meter was 1/2 mile from PQM and if i'd put money in it, i would have gone with 1 hour just to be safe.....and i don't want the app that allows me to add money from my phone. what's the point of having meters with a time limit (supposedly helpful for local businesses, etc.) if anyone with a phone who's willing to pay a 35 cent premium each time they use it can bypass the original idea??
  • Post #20 - October 17th, 2017, 4:16 pm
    Post #20 - October 17th, 2017, 4:16 pm Post #20 - October 17th, 2017, 4:16 pm
    justjoan wrote:
    spinynorman99 wrote:
    justjoan wrote:i haven't been to bonci yet, though the pizzas look fantastic. i'm finding it impossible to go to some of my favorite spots since fulton st. exploded with restaurants because parking is near impossible. i love going to graziano's and publican quality meats, but last time i tried i ended up skipping it- the only spot i could find was a meter at $4 for 1 hour, and i refused to pay that to run in for a sandwich..... i barely recognize what used to be my wholesale shopping area.... i'm really bummed.....


    Small consolation, but you can pay for fractional hours; just because the cost is expressed as hourly doesn't mean you can't pay $1 for 15 minutes.

    i know how the meters work- but the meter was 1/2 mile from PQM and if i'd put money in it, i would have gone with 1 hour just to be safe.....and i don't want the app that allows me to add money from my phone. what's the point of having meters with a time limit (supposedly helpful for local businesses, etc.) if anyone with a phone who's willing to pay a 35 cent premium each time they use it can bypass the original idea??

    Public transit isn't an option?
  • Post #21 - October 17th, 2017, 4:53 pm
    Post #21 - October 17th, 2017, 4:53 pm Post #21 - October 17th, 2017, 4:53 pm
    Small consolation, but you can pay for fractional hours; just because the cost is expressed as hourly doesn't mean you can't pay $1 for 15 minutes.

    i know how the meters work- but the meter was 1/2 mile from PQM and if i'd put money in it, i would have gone with 1 hour just to be safe.....and i don't want the app that allows me to add money from my phone. what's the point of having meters with a time limit (supposedly helpful for local businesses, etc.) if anyone with a phone who's willing to pay a 35 cent premium each time they use it can bypass the original idea??[/quote]
    Public transit isn't an option?

    i support public transit; and i spent years bike riding as much as i could, but, no, if i'm in the randolph street area, i'm in my car. it's not worth taking a long walk, a train and a bus just to pick up some food.....my point was not so much my own personal difficulties, but pointing out the dramatic changes in the fulton street area which until very recently was mostly food wholesalers where parking was no problem.
  • Post #22 - October 17th, 2017, 5:02 pm
    Post #22 - October 17th, 2017, 5:02 pm Post #22 - October 17th, 2017, 5:02 pm
    We went on Sunday, parked for free right around the corner on Lake St. Not an issue for me but I am used to living in a big city. Perhaps they'll open one in Schaumburg for those who are parking challenged.

    And if $4 extra is not in the budget, I would gently suggest that Bonci might not be for you. One smallish slice will run you 4 bucks and I would not go without having at least a few different slices.
  • Post #23 - October 17th, 2017, 5:08 pm
    Post #23 - October 17th, 2017, 5:08 pm Post #23 - October 17th, 2017, 5:08 pm
    Octarine wrote:We went on Sunday, parked for free right around the corner on Lake St. Not an issue for me but I am used to living in a big city. Perhaps they'll open one in Schaumburg for those who are parking challenged.

    And if $4 extra is not in the budget, I would gently suggest that Bonci might not be for you. One smallish slice will run you 4 bucks and I would not go without having at least a few different slices.

    why so snarky? (edited )
    Last edited by justjoan on October 18th, 2017, 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #24 - October 17th, 2017, 6:00 pm
    Post #24 - October 17th, 2017, 6:00 pm Post #24 - October 17th, 2017, 6:00 pm
    justjoan wrote:why so snarky? why even bother to post this, you must be soooo bored....have you nothing better to do???

    Seriously. Your objectively non-controversial comment (the development and trendiness of the Fulton Market area has come with inconveniences) has drawn more scrutiny than imaginable.

    I recommend trying Washington when looking for spots, FWIW. I go to Parlor Bar frequently, and very often find a spot.
  • Post #25 - October 17th, 2017, 6:13 pm
    Post #25 - October 17th, 2017, 6:13 pm Post #25 - October 17th, 2017, 6:13 pm
    Hi all,

    The snarky comments posted above are truly uncalled for and not at all in keeping with our Posting Guidelines. Let's please keep it civil.

    Thanks,

    =R=
    for the Moderators
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #26 - October 22nd, 2017, 12:54 pm
    Post #26 - October 22nd, 2017, 12:54 pm Post #26 - October 22nd, 2017, 12:54 pm
    Enjoyed lunch today. Favorites were shrooms, prosciutto, arugula and buff mozz, and pumpkin, sausage. Least fave was eggplant and toms. A bit expensive @ $40 for several slices that may be a lg pizza in total, but good ingredients and nice flavor combos will bring me back.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #27 - October 22nd, 2017, 2:16 pm
    Post #27 - October 22nd, 2017, 2:16 pm Post #27 - October 22nd, 2017, 2:16 pm
    i enjoyed my first lunch at bonci on friday; i like the set up and the variety, but found only 1 of the 3 slices i ordered to be really memorable. it was, i think, sausage, onion and spinach. the spinach/taleggio and the potato both could have used more seasoning (i don't mean S&P) to boost their flavor. i'll definitely give it another try- they have more than 100 options they rotate through. there's so little seating inside (with about a dozen stools outside), that i wonder how they'll do come winter. i reheated half of my order for dinner the same day and thought it held up well...
  • Post #28 - October 23rd, 2017, 3:44 pm
    Post #28 - October 23rd, 2017, 3:44 pm Post #28 - October 23rd, 2017, 3:44 pm
    Finally made it to Bonci USA yesterday and was very pleased with the selections. We tried anchovies & zucchini, mushroom sausage & ricotta, margherita, Nduja & ricotta. Other than the anchovies one being way too salty, we like all of the other flavors. We were in Rome when Bonci was here opening the Chicago location and made sure to check out the original before going to the Chicago one. Interestingly Bonci Rome was empty when we went for an early dinner, maybe they knew Bonci was out of town? Anyways, the crust in Rome seem slightly lighter and the pizzas seem less oily, though that could've been the different toppings. Have to say the Chicago location is much nicer and comfortable (hometown pride 8) ) and we'll be regulars!
  • Post #29 - November 5th, 2017, 8:02 am
    Post #29 - November 5th, 2017, 8:02 am Post #29 - November 5th, 2017, 8:02 am
    I've been to Bonci twice, both not long after it opened. To put it mildly, I'm smitten, in a great way. If you're a baker, a dough geek, the crust will wow you. If I recall correctly, they're going for 70% hydration and the results are impressive. Light, airy, soft and yet crisp. I just can't get over how unique and wonderful the crust is.

    And the toppings I've tried have been fantastic. On both of my visits, I've found a really nice balance between crust and toppings. The tomato sauce has just the right acidity for me, and I loved the spicy eggplant (pictured below). This is among the best pizza I've tried.

    On top of that, despite the fact that I visited when Bonci was newer and perhaps more crowded than it is now, I found the staff welcoming and very helpful and service pretty fast. My lone complaint is its accessibility for me: I don't work in the Loop and I live in Lincoln Square so my visits will be few and far between. That's okay - when I do get there it will be quite the treat.

    Here are a couple of pics from my first visit:

    Image

    Image
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #30 - November 5th, 2017, 8:08 am
    Post #30 - November 5th, 2017, 8:08 am Post #30 - November 5th, 2017, 8:08 am
    Of the 5-6 slices we tried, we found the eggplant bland as hell and in big need of more flavor, including but not only, salt. It was the only one we didn't finish. The others we quite liked though.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata

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