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Gruppo di Amici - Roman pizzas in Rogers Park

Gruppo di Amici - Roman pizzas in Rogers Park
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  • Gruppo di Amici - Roman pizzas in Rogers Park

    Post #1 - June 6th, 2006, 8:24 pm
    Post #1 - June 6th, 2006, 8:24 pm Post #1 - June 6th, 2006, 8:24 pm
    Gruppo di Amici, featuring the chef/owner of La Cucina di Donatella, just opened last week in Rogers Park. A large part of the menu is devoted to real Neapolitan (actually Roman) pizzas, and that's why I headed up north from Lincoln Square -- excited to find out if there's someone else who can do it like Spacca Napoli.

    Tonight I was not able to answer that question. After sitting down and ordering drinks, my buddy and me were told that the wood burning oven, imported from Italy, was still curing and that they would not be able to do pizzas for 2-3 weeks. So much for our excitement. We stayed nonetheless.

    The menu offers a number of appetizers and salads, a handful of pastas (including two lasagnas), veal and quail IIRC, and a couple of calzones, and then many pizzas (the pizzas seem similarly priced to those at Spacca Napoli). They start you off with warm bread, relatively flavorless but very crusty on the outside and soft inside, and served with olive oil. In other words, could be worse.

    Caprese salad ($9 I think) missed only slightly (the fault of the tomatoes -- just not ripe enough). Mussels were decent served in a decent enough broth (with a good kick from red pepper flakes) and four garlicky toast points. (about $10)

    My friend and I each had a calzone, but it was not cooked in the woodburning oven tonight. In any event, great crust -- crispy yet soft, and not oily in the least. I imagine it might be even better when done in the woodburning oven, which I understand is their intention. But the fillings left us disappointed. The one with prosciutto might as well have omitted the prosciutto -- I just couldn't taste it. The one with pomodoro and anchovies had a bad distribution of ingredients, such that some bites were too laden with anchovies. The filling was also slightly skimpy. Otherwise, the sauce in the calzones (tomato based) was just not flavorful enough -- it really just needed some seasoning.

    They have 1/2 price glasses of wine on Tuesday, and they offer a good size list of wines by the glass and reasonably priced (i.e., under $10 for the most part). I recall our waitress mentioning something about discounted 1/2 bottles, perhaps on Thursday.

    The dining room, at least now (looks a little unfinished) is relatively simple with the large, woodburning oven serving as the centerpiece in the dining room. As the room filled up, it became a little loud . . . and a little dark. Service staff kept screwing around with the lighting until the lights were mostly off. But this was not nearly as annoying as the air conditioning -- by the end of our meal, I thought I was in a meat locker. There were a few wait staff in the dining room, all friendly, but obviously still learning as confusion occurred at several points. But the staff was very eager to please, and that was more obvious than the gaffes.

    I really went for the pizzas, and I'll try it again in a few weeks.

    Gruppo di Amici
    1508 W. Jarvis Ave.
    773.508.5565
    Last edited by BR on August 6th, 2007, 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - June 6th, 2006, 10:12 pm
    Post #2 - June 6th, 2006, 10:12 pm Post #2 - June 6th, 2006, 10:12 pm
    Thanks for the report. Living in the neighborhood, I have mixed feelings about this place. It replaced the only liquor store within 6 blocks. Personally, I was hoping for a new liquor store. An upscale pizza joint was near the bottom of my list of businesses I wanted to see in that space.

    That said, in the spirit of accepting that which I cannot change, I wish Chef Donatella the best (I think she is actually from Roma not Napoli). Did she close her place on Howard to come to work here? When I drove by Gruppo on Saturday, the place looked packed. I am surprised they opened before the oven was ready. The pizza oven was the very first thing that went into that space, even before the walls. I thought it was the main focus of their concept.
  • Post #3 - June 7th, 2006, 6:45 am
    Post #3 - June 7th, 2006, 6:45 am Post #3 - June 7th, 2006, 6:45 am
    d4v3 wrote:When I drove by Gruppo on Saturday, the place was packed. Was the oven not working at all? The pizza oven was the very first thing that went into that space, even before the walls. I thought it was the main focus of their concept.

    As I found out last night, the woodburning oven arrived in parts from Italy, needed to be assembled, and then needs time to cure (which appears to include constantly feeding the flame, which they were doing last night). I was probably driving the waitress nuts as she kept running back and forth to the chef with my oven questions, but oh well. Since there is typically the need to please the banks/investors, I am not surprised that they opened before the woodburning oven was finished. They obviously have their liquor license and they are definitely drawing the early crowd. But I think the true test will be the quality of their pizzas.
  • Post #4 - June 7th, 2006, 6:51 am
    Post #4 - June 7th, 2006, 6:51 am Post #4 - June 7th, 2006, 6:51 am
    BR wrote:Since there is typically the need to please the banks/investors, I am not surprised that they opened before the woodburning oven was finished. They obviously have their liquor license and they are definitely drawing the early crowd. But I think the true test will be the quality of their pizzas.
    Yeah, you are right. I think they were a few weeks behind schedule as it was. I will wait until the pizzas are available before I go there. Like I said, i have mixed feelings about the place, but it would be nice to have decent pizza closer than Candlelite.
  • Post #5 - June 8th, 2006, 8:24 am
    Post #5 - June 8th, 2006, 8:24 am Post #5 - June 8th, 2006, 8:24 am
    I think Gruppo di Amcci has a responsibility to inform their patrons up front.

    Fine, you want to have a soft opening, then do that. But these folks let everyone know that they would be open on June 1st. We placed our full order before they bothered to mention that the oven was not ready. Excuse me? Would you rush to a steakhouse that did not serve steaks.

    At the very least there should be a sign in the window saying that the pizzas are not available.

    We started with the stuffed mushroom appetizers. One was refrigerator cold, a few scalding hot. Can you say microwave turntable?
    Something called a panzenlla is listed as an appetizer...their version of the bread salad. Ours was served with the salad, which led us to believe that there was some mistake...yes, it was the description and menu placement.

    I have to say the buffalo moz on the capresese was terrific, but we also found the tomatos lacking. We split a calzoni and asked to hold the anchovies. Tasty, but ehhh.

    Total tab for 1 app, 2 salads (or was that 2 apps and 1 salad) and split entree, $36...better spent elsewhere.

    I would love to see what these guys do with the wood burning oven, particularly in this neighborhood. However, to compare them to Spacca is a travesty....Gruppo does not appear to respect the customer, at least from my one time, early on visit. I will update in July.
    Last edited by pdaane on June 8th, 2006, 11:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #6 - June 8th, 2006, 9:00 am
    Post #6 - June 8th, 2006, 9:00 am Post #6 - June 8th, 2006, 9:00 am
    pdaane wrote:I would love to see what these guys do with the wood burning oven, particularly in this neighborhood. However, to compare them to Spacca is a travesty....Gruppo does not appear to respect the customer, at least from my one time, early on visit. I will update in July.

    So you didn't enjoy your experience? :twisted:

    Perhaps they should have posted something outside about the woodburning oven not being ready, but since they have a large enough menu absent the pizzas, I don't think it's crazy for them to be open and I see no reason for them to discourage people from coming in. I could have walked out when ordering drinks and being told about "no pizzas" but I stayed. In any event, I tend to be forgiving of certain (not all) missteps in the early days of any restaurant. I chalk it up to a clueless staff, no matter how much restaurant experience the individuals working in the restaurant might have.

    I'm not willing to reach the conclusion yet that they don't care about their customers. To digress, one thing that I love about Spacca (and Over Easy Cafe) is how the owner will bring out small pieces of pizza or cheese (or blueberry muffins at Over Easy) to waiting customers as if to say "thanks for your patience."

    I'll return to GA in a couple of weeks (after phoning first to make sure the woodburning oven is working) and try their pizzas.
  • Post #7 - June 8th, 2006, 9:18 am
    Post #7 - June 8th, 2006, 9:18 am Post #7 - June 8th, 2006, 9:18 am
    No, I did not enjoy my experience. I put a great deal of trust in the owner and chef, or else I would eat in a place I know is consistent time after time...its the backbone of McDonalds.

    I just feel jilted after every press release I have seen on Gruppo talks about the wood burning oven pizzas. Is this a poster boy example of why not to try restaurants until they have a reputation. Then, what does it say about the collateral damage they have done to other restaurants that work out their issues before opening. I am not at all unsympathetic to startups, but they need to show trust and trustworthiness.

    Yes, I do feel they need to deliver or inform, just like it was part of the trust/patronage relationship. If Gruppo plans to make it on foot traffic, they will be closed before '07. They are going to need destination customers. Customers who are traveling to a destination, should be informed of what they can expect upon arrival.

    I am not writing them off...but the balance of the menu is ho hum. I hope to try a pizza soon.
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #8 - June 8th, 2006, 4:18 pm
    Post #8 - June 8th, 2006, 4:18 pm Post #8 - June 8th, 2006, 4:18 pm
    I'm going with a friend Saturday night (anyone else want to join?) If I remember I'll bring the camera and post photos. I also want to try the relatively new Irish pub next door.
  • Post #9 - June 9th, 2006, 11:40 am
    Post #9 - June 9th, 2006, 11:40 am Post #9 - June 9th, 2006, 11:40 am
    I say cut them some slack: they're working to ensure a quality product, and who could take issue with that? It seems to me churlish to go to a place that's just opened then bring down the hammer when the almost inevitable missteps occur.

    Just FYI: I spoke to the co-owner today, and she tells me that though Donatella Majore de Vette (of Cucina di Donatella) consulted on the menu, she will not be overseeing the actual cooking but will remain at her restaurant on Howard.

    I have to say I'm delighted at the prospect at having wood-fired pizza in Rogers Park. I was beginning to feel uncontrollable envy of those living convenient to Spacca Napoli, where (sigh) I've never been.
  • Post #10 - June 9th, 2006, 12:26 pm
    Post #10 - June 9th, 2006, 12:26 pm Post #10 - June 9th, 2006, 12:26 pm
    kates wrote:I say cut them some slack: they're working to ensure a quality product, and who could take issue with that? It seems to me churlish to go to a place that's just opened then bring down the hammer when the almost inevitable missteps occur.
    I don't think anybody is blaming them for not having the oven ready, or for the usual opening week screw-ups. What I think people are upset about, is the fact that they did not make more of an effort to inform patrons upfront that the oven was not ready yet. I spoke with a couple of neighbors who were also caught off-guard by the lack of pizzas. I, myself, called there on Saturday to see if they were open yet for business. Although I got a recording, there was nothing to indicate there were no pizzas available. Luckily, we drove by there and decided it was too crowded to go in. If I had to wait for a table and placed my order before I found out the oven was not ready (like pdaane), I too would have been pretty upset. As it was, we ended up going up to Clark Street and trying out "El Rey del Taco", in the old Mi Tenampa space, which turned out to be very good (I will post a review soon).
  • Post #11 - June 9th, 2006, 12:39 pm
    Post #11 - June 9th, 2006, 12:39 pm Post #11 - June 9th, 2006, 12:39 pm
    You cut them some slack if you want. Inevitable? Churlish?

    How can you defend this place? What they did is no better than any other bait and switch advertising. Do you really think I would head to Rodgers Park for a ho hum Italian-esq meal without the promise of a wood burning oven pizza? Its rhetorical, but no.

    Again, I do not fault the restaurant for opening early. I do not fault them for being optimistic in their press releases that they would be up and running by June 1...I realize that the press release was sent out some time ago.

    But, inevitable....surely if they invested the time and money in importing, learning to operate and installing the damn thing, someone along the way told them that it would take a couple of weeks to cure.

    Churlish? Am I considered to be ill bred, because I refuse to accept a bait and switch ruse? No, the owners of Gruppo have a responsibility to their customers to deliver what is promised. At the very least, they can put a sign in the window..."very sorry for the inconveninece, but our pizza oven is not yet operating." No, they wait until I have ordered drinks and an appetizer before letting me know that at least half the menu is not available.

    Yes, I realize it was a gamble to try this place before it was fully vetted. I should have let more Sheeple describe how nice the place was despite the fact that you couldn't get the one item which is the hook to bring'em in.

    It boils down to the fact that I have to trust a place to deliver consistently with good quality. If they are more concerned with making a few bucks up front than with building a client base, I just don't see how that justifies trust on my part.

    I don't want to come down too hard on these folks, as I might actually enjoy their pizza. However, what they did was wrong and it should not be defended as simply an opening month gaff.

    If you know the owners, do them a favor. Let them know that I found it totally disrespectful not to be given warning ahead of time that the soon to be famous pizza was not available. Believe me, I will be warning everyone I come into contact with.

    It is obvious from Gruppo's actions the fact that the pizza oven is not operating yet is information they would rather not share. This forum exists in part to level the playing field and share information among patrons and potential patrons. If that is considered a churlish bring down of the hammer...so be it.

    pd
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #12 - June 9th, 2006, 1:26 pm
    Post #12 - June 9th, 2006, 1:26 pm Post #12 - June 9th, 2006, 1:26 pm
    d4v3 wrote:Thanks for the report. Living in the neighborhood, I have mixed feelings about this place. It replaced the only liquor store within 6 blocks. Personally, I was hoping for a new liquor store. An upscale pizza joint was near the bottom of my list of businesses I wanted to see in that space.


    Okay…I don't want to veer completely off the topic at hand - which is, by all means, the pizza place that boasts a wood burning oven - that currently does burn wood - although is not yet an oven to pizzas. But really, you wanted another liquor store? I too live in the neighborhood and the last two businesses that Rogers Park is in need of is 1. A liquor store and 2. A Dollar Store. Truly. There are plenty.

    I plan on giving them a go (despite the lack of pizza) this Saturday. I hope others stop by there soon too (even if you prefer to wait for the pizza). Rogers Park is in need of more local businesses like the ones that have recently opened on Jarvis. And in order for them to stay in business (and work to get better if that’s the case) they need our support.
  • Post #13 - June 9th, 2006, 1:46 pm
    Post #13 - June 9th, 2006, 1:46 pm Post #13 - June 9th, 2006, 1:46 pm
    clb wrote:
    d4v3 wrote:Thanks for the report. Living in the neighborhood, I have mixed feelings about this place. It replaced the only liquor store within 6 blocks. Personally, I was hoping for a new liquor store. An upscale pizza joint was near the bottom of my list of businesses I wanted to see in that space.


    Okay…I don't want to veer completely off the topic at hand - which is, by all means, the pizza place that boasts a wood burning oven - that currently does burn wood - although is not yet an oven to pizzas. But really, you wanted another liquor store? I too live in the neighborhood and the last two businesses that Rogers Park is in need of is 1. A liquor store and 2. A Dollar Store.


    I think you need to look closely at the quote in context:

    d4v3 wrote:Personally, I was hoping for a new liquor store ... That said, in the spirit of accepting that which I cannot change...
    (emphasis added).

    Think about it. I sense humor here. 8)
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on June 9th, 2006, 1:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
    JiLS
  • Post #14 - June 9th, 2006, 1:47 pm
    Post #14 - June 9th, 2006, 1:47 pm Post #14 - June 9th, 2006, 1:47 pm
    clb wrote:But really, you wanted another liquor store? I too live in the neighborhood and the last two businesses that Rogers Park is in need of is 1. A liquor store and 2. A Dollar Store. Truly. There are plenty.
    Huh? No, I just made that up. Actually, there are not that many liquor stores in Rogers Park. There are now no liquor stores between Howard and Morse and the Lake and Western Ave (nearly 150 square blocks). Besides, I drink a heck of a lot more beer than I eat fancy-pants burnt wood pizzas. Now instead of a 2 block round trip for beer or wine, it is a 14 block round trip, and the selection is not as good. Like I said, I wish the owners luck, and I am sure I will eventually try their pizza.

    Props to JiLS for getting the AA reference.
    Last edited by d4v3 on June 9th, 2006, 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #15 - June 9th, 2006, 2:45 pm
    Post #15 - June 9th, 2006, 2:45 pm Post #15 - June 9th, 2006, 2:45 pm
    pdaane wrote: Excuse me? Would you rush to a steakhouse that did not serve steaks.


    I'm sorry if I offended you, PDaane, and I agree that you should have been told about the dearth of pizza upon receiving your menus. But are you so indignant when you, say, trek down to a south-side barbecue only to find that they've run out of slabs? (Not a precise analogy, I grant you; just a gentle reminder that shit happens.)

    I have no connection with the owners of Gruppo, by the way. Just had to call the place for fact-checking purposes.
  • Post #16 - June 9th, 2006, 3:40 pm
    Post #16 - June 9th, 2006, 3:40 pm Post #16 - June 9th, 2006, 3:40 pm
    Well...indignant is certainly better than churlish. :) Further, I hardly find a spirited discussion of food and restuarants offense.

    Again, this is not a "shit happens", oops we ran out of ribs because we under estimated the crowds situation. The folks at Gruppo should have known about the importation, installation and curing process.

    An appropriate analogy would be a restaurant that opens prior to being issued a liquor license. I would expect before I was seated, or shortly thereafter, to be told "hey, we don't have a liquor license, but you can grab a bottle just down the street."

    Even though there were several open tables we were asked to wait to be seated. Fine, but when we were seated would have been a great time to say "Just so you know, we are not serving pizza yet".
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #17 - June 12th, 2006, 7:00 pm
    Post #17 - June 12th, 2006, 7:00 pm Post #17 - June 12th, 2006, 7:00 pm
    I just received my July Chicago magazine, and I note a small piece mentioning this place under the title "we're excited about ..."

    Having gone there Saturday night, I'm not as excited.

    It's a fairly large, almost cavernous space, with solid walls everywhere - i.e. designed to be noisy. Which makes it so easy to hear the cries and screams of the under one year old set, which were fairly prevalant, and not surprising, given the neighborhood. It felt like a place that belongs in Wicker Park, not on Jarvis. But it was relatively full.

    As mentioned, the pizzas that are on the menu aren't available until the oven cures; they said that would be finished and they'll be available Tuesday. We'll see.

    My friend and I started with two appetizers - the Funghi Ripieni was a competent, if unexciting, stuffed mushroom, which was served lukewarm, and strangely cool in the center. I'm not conversant enough with typical Italian traditions for this dish, but I expect a cool interior isn't exactly authentic.

    The other appetizer was the Arancini Siciliani - again fine, but unexciting. Reminded me of Cajun dirty rice without the spiciness, and with a little breadcrumb crust on top.

    Entreé was a special - pork loin - again, competently done, but not exceptional. It was sufficiently memorable that I don't remember the details.

    Service was spotty … we were asked if we wanted coffee or dessert – we passed on the coffee and said let us think about dessert. Apparently, they thought it was something very hard for us to think about, because no one came back to ask about it again for nearly a half an hour – and that wasn’t our original server; it was another who noticed we’d been sitting at a cleared table for a long time. To their credit, when we finally were able to order the average tiramisu (too much cocoa and espresso powder on top – it stuck to the roof of your mouth), they comped the dessert.

    I don’t want to completely slam the place, because that neighborhood needs a good place like this tries to be. And it is fairly new, so I’m sure there are still a few bugs in the system.

    I have to add that I spoke with Donatella Majore de Vette Saturday – supposedly the top chef at Gruppo di Amici. Her comment was “Oh, I just helped them get started. I’m still spending all my time here at La Cucina di Donatella.

    Gruppo di Amici
    1508 W. Jarvis
    Chicago
    773-508-5565

    La Cucina di Donatella
    2221 W. Howard Street
    Chicago
    773-262-6533
  • Post #18 - June 20th, 2006, 4:38 pm
    Post #18 - June 20th, 2006, 4:38 pm Post #18 - June 20th, 2006, 4:38 pm
    I called Gruppo di Amici today and was told that they are now making pizzas. I'm curious to know if this is actually true or not and if anyone has tried it yet. Tomorrow is pizza night and we're going to try either Gruppo or Spacca Napoli.
  • Post #19 - July 9th, 2006, 6:45 pm
    Post #19 - July 9th, 2006, 6:45 pm Post #19 - July 9th, 2006, 6:45 pm
    Finally tried the pizza at Gruppo and I can say that it is ok, but much closer in quality to Pizza DOC than to Spacca Napoli. My crust could have spent a few more seconds in the oven as it lacked a little of the flavor that the wood burning oven should import and I didn't have much in the way of burnt spots and bubbles, although my dining companion's pizza did. I ordered the margherita pizza which had only 2 large pieces of basil in the middle and a tad too much olive oil, but was pretty good, particularly the ratio of sauce and cheese to crust.

    The caprese salad was once again a real hit -- perfectly ripe tomatoes, fantastic buffalo mozzarella, basil, a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

    I notice that they are having what they call their "grand opening" special on Tuesday (July 11), inviting people to come in from 6-9 pm and enjoy free slices of pizza when ordering appetizers, salads or entrees. Tuesday's also half-price glass of wine night so if you want to check it out without investing too much, that's your best chance.

    N.B. - they also have a very comfortable front patio which seats around 20.
  • Post #20 - July 14th, 2006, 4:43 am
    Post #20 - July 14th, 2006, 4:43 am Post #20 - July 14th, 2006, 4:43 am
    nr706 wrote:
    I have to add that I spoke with Donatella Majore de Vette Saturday – supposedly the top chef at Gruppo di Amici. Her comment was “Oh, I just helped them get started. I’m still spending all my time here at La Cucina di Donatella.


    This week's (7/13/2006) Time Out Chicago gives Gruppo di Amici a pretty big profile and pictures Donatella with a caption reading:
    Co-owner Lori Alderate (left) and chef Donatella Majore de Vette (right) try to figure out how they’re going to make happy plates.


    When I read that caption, I don't take "chef" as an honorific, but more as a description of her role at the restaurant.

    The text itself does note that on the two trips they made, their pizza was not prepared by Chef Donatella.

    Still haven't made it over to GdA myself.
  • Post #21 - August 9th, 2006, 7:05 am
    Post #21 - August 9th, 2006, 7:05 am Post #21 - August 9th, 2006, 7:05 am
    LTH,

    No question whether Gruppo di Amici's wood burning pizza oven is up and running.

    Gruppo di Amici
    Image
    Image

    Pleasant outdoor eating area and a comfortable art filled interior.
    Image

    And, most importantly, a wood closet for the pizza oven. No wood w/gas assist at GdA.
    Image

    Friendly owners Phaedra (L) Lori (R) work the house, making sure everything is running smoothly and showing real care for their customers.
    Image

    Warm bread and good quality olive oil to munch on while perusing the menu, brisk recitation of daily specials yielded grilled calamari, we have a winner. Though it was hard to resist grilled baby octopus.

    No picture of the calamari, we ran into to people we knew, were chatting and I, gasp, forgot to snap a picture. Suffice to say it was quite good, though the fresh from the farm wood roasted tomato quarters, dressed simply with good quality olive oil and s/p were the standout on the plate.

    Pizza was enjoyable, Roman style, as opposed to Neapolitan, with a more neutral tomato sauce, just a hint of sweet, thinner crust and, in the case of our Capricciosa pizza, hard cooked eggs as opposed to the Neapolitan whole runny egg.

    Capricciosa (tomato, olives, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, egg and artichokes).
    Image

    Prices were reasonable, service good, food enjoyable, with an overall comfy feel to the place. We will most definitely be back.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Gruppo di Amici
    1508 W. Jarvis
    Chicago, IL
    773-508-5565
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #22 - August 9th, 2006, 3:57 pm
    Post #22 - August 9th, 2006, 3:57 pm Post #22 - August 9th, 2006, 3:57 pm
    We found Grupo's pizza to be superior to the one we had at Spacca Napoli, which was greasy, soggy and underdone. Maybe we hit SN on an off night.

    Our grilled lamb special at Grupo, was excellent, perfectly medium rare and tender. The accompanying roast potatoes had a marvelous crispy crust. The grilled octopus was good and not nearly as oily (or skimpy) as SN's seafood salad, which was swimming in oil.
  • Post #23 - August 9th, 2006, 4:08 pm
    Post #23 - August 9th, 2006, 4:08 pm Post #23 - August 9th, 2006, 4:08 pm
    NB: "Roman style, as opposed to Neapolitan"

    SN is nothing if not (1) consistent and (2) Neapolitan. While debates about what is better may rage without end, it is highly likely that you don't like Neapolitan pizza as much as you do other styles. That's cool, many agree -- arguably, possibly much of Italy would agree since my unscientific, statistically insignificant analysis of pizza in Italy suggests the Roman style is more widespread. Not really a criticism of a place making Neapolitan pizza so much as a criticism of Neapolitan pizza, however. This debate seems familiar...

    PS, Gary, Gruppo di Amici looks like a very pleasant place; those ladies look just like my cousins; the pizza looks swell. I for one welcome yet another solid Italian style pizza spot to the north side. And I'm glad that so many are investing so much in these ovens; it almost ensures that some form of pizza place will remain for a long while.
  • Post #24 - August 9th, 2006, 5:39 pm
    Post #24 - August 9th, 2006, 5:39 pm Post #24 - August 9th, 2006, 5:39 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Prices were reasonable, service good, food enjoyable, with an overall comfy feel to the place. We will most definitely be back
    Thanks for the updated review. I have been avoiding this place, because I wanted to give them a chance to get their act together. I am still angry that they replaced the only liquor store within walking distance of my house, but it makes me a bit happier that their food doesn't suck on top of it. I may give GdA a try tomorrow.
  • Post #25 - August 9th, 2006, 9:29 pm
    Post #25 - August 9th, 2006, 9:29 pm Post #25 - August 9th, 2006, 9:29 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Pizza was enjoyable, Roman style, as opposed to Neapolitan, with a more neutral tomato sauce, just a hint of sweet, thinner crust and, in the case of our Capricciosa pizza, hard cooked eggs as opposed to the Neapolitan whole runny egg.

    Capricciosa (tomato, olives, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, egg and artichokes).

    Interesting . . . I knew the crust was different than Spacca Napoli's for instance, but I don't know enough to distinguish between Roman and Neapolitan pizzas. But I guess the Roman is crispier and with a less moist dough? I certainly prefer Spacca's crust but really only because of its fantastic flavor and not necessarily the texture.

    But my next question, do you know whether the "Roman" pizza was intended or is it simply the way it ended up? That is, I originally heard that they were intending authentic Neapolitan pizzas, but who knows if that is correct. And maybe they changed courses slightly. Also, does this mean that they cook the pizzas longer (I thought I heard that Neapolitan pizzas were always cooked in less than 1.5 minutes)? Just curious.

    And looking at the picture of the Capricciosa, I'm thinking that I need to give that one a try -- looks great.
  • Post #26 - August 9th, 2006, 9:37 pm
    Post #26 - August 9th, 2006, 9:37 pm Post #26 - August 9th, 2006, 9:37 pm
    BR wrote:But my next question, do you know whether the "Roman" pizza was intended or is it simply the way it ended up?

    BR,

    Intended. I chatted a bit with Phaedra and she was quite specific as to Roman style. It wasn't addressed in our conversation, but my impression is GdA was Roman style pizza right from the start.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #27 - August 9th, 2006, 9:53 pm
    Post #27 - August 9th, 2006, 9:53 pm Post #27 - August 9th, 2006, 9:53 pm
    G Wiv wrote:I chatted a bit with Phaedra and she was quite specific as to Roman style. It wasn't addressed in our conversation, but my impression is GdA was Roman style pizza right from the start.
    Chef Donatella Majore de Vette, who developed the menu and consulted on the cuisine hails from Roma. Long before they opened, GdA's publicity mentioned Roman style pizza.
  • Post #28 - August 10th, 2006, 9:53 am
    Post #28 - August 10th, 2006, 9:53 am Post #28 - August 10th, 2006, 9:53 am
    I am very happy that people are starting to discover this place. I've gone there a couple times since they started serving pizza back in June (no pics since camera is bust). I prefer their pizza over SN because I like a firm, crisp crust and found SN pizza too soggy for my liking. Plus its in my 'hood, which is most certainly a plus. Encourage people to take the Red line to Jarvis since parking seems already to be a challenge.
  • Post #29 - August 18th, 2006, 9:38 am
    Post #29 - August 18th, 2006, 9:38 am Post #29 - August 18th, 2006, 9:38 am
    BR wrote:The caprese salad was once again a real hit -- perfectly ripe tomatoes, fantastic buffalo mozzarella, basil, a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

    BR,

    Went to GdA again with Steve Z and Ellen last night, had the caprese and, 100% agreement about the mozzarella, among the best mozzarella I've had in the lower 48. The straight from Italy buffalo mozzarella was so creamy, milky rich I initially mistook it for burrata.

    There was, at least last night, a real disconnect between the near perfect mozzarella and insipid, cardboard texture, no flavor tomatoes. Phaedra and Lori asked how we liked our meal. I was honest about the caprese and said, terrific mozzarella, very good olive oil, ok basil, not-so-good tomatoes. To their credit they were right on the case.

    Erik M, who happened to be at GdA with a friend, had a very funny line. Steve Z asked Phaedra and Lori if he could BYOT* and Erik inquired as to coreage fee. :)

    I have entered Gruppo di Amici's Caprese into the LTHForum Caprese Salad Index

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    *Bring your own tomato
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #30 - August 18th, 2006, 4:15 pm
    Post #30 - August 18th, 2006, 4:15 pm Post #30 - August 18th, 2006, 4:15 pm
    G Wiv wrote:BR,

    Went to GdA again with Steve Z and Ellen last night, had the caprese and, 100% agreement about the mozzarella, among the best mozzarella I've had in the lower 48. The straight from Italy buffalo mozzarella was so creamy, milky rich I initially mistook it for burrata.

    There was, at least last night, a real disconnect between the near perfect mozzarella and insipid, cardboard texture, no flavor tomatoes. Phaedra and Lori asked how we liked our meal. I was honest about the caprese and said, terrific mozzarella, very good olive oil, ok basil, not-so-good tomatoes. To their credit they were right on the case.

    The "tomato" portion of my Caprese salads at GdA has been mostly hit (although one miss) on my visits. It should really be hard to screw up with the tomatoes at this time of year (but certainly not impossible). But yes, that mozzarella is quite fantastic. I wouldn't say that Isola is bad, but it doesn't compare to the real stuff which GdA certainly has found.

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