Friday, January 17, 2014

La Madia

Location: 59 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60654
La Madia on UrbanspoonLa Madia on Foodio54
A Quick Word:
After eating here just a couple weeks ago, we decided to come back with some of my family.  And, it was just as good.  I forgot to take pictures of the new pizzas, but we did have the pork belly white pizza with kale and the sweet fennel sausage and pepper red pizza.  Both were excellent with the pork belly having a strong smoke flavor and the sausage having that homemade italian sausage taste.  AND, our dessert (the crostata) was served warm!  The gelato was even melting a little.  It was perfect so I decided to up their rating to 4.5 miles.  A must try restaurant and high on my recommendation list.

It has been a while since I came to La Madia, but I always remembered it as a place with great, authentic neapolitan style pizzas.  Located in the mainstream shopping area of downtown Chicago, it is also a very accessible restaurant.  They pride themselves as being contemporary Italian, however, I find that they should focus more on just their pizzas... because they are that GOOD.  The choices are endless--some with pork belly, others with strong cheeses, and others with fruit.  All are made in their wood burning oven on a thin crispy crust.  Fresh ingredients make their pizzas shine, but you can't forget about their "wine of the week" specials for only $6.00.  The atmosphere is very up beat with tons of people waiting around the bar/lounge area for a table to open up.  The cost is friendly to all wallets... averaging about $15 a person with a glass of wine.  For all of these reasons, it was a no-brainer to rate the restaurant at 4-miles... a hot dessert would have brought it to the next level!
What We Ate:

Seasonal Wild Mushroom Bruschette

It was a little difficult to choose an appetizer with such great shareable options.  Personally, I have been addicted to ricotta cheese lately, so we decided on their mushroom bruschette.  The dish was whipped ricotta cheese topped with seasonal mushrooms softened in a marsala glaze and a few pieces of torn basil.  This was all on top a toasted crostini.  The bruschette had a very complex flavor, especially with those basil leaves on top.  The ricotta was as creamy as I pictured and the bread just toasted enough for the perfect texture.  After eating a few bites, we both realized how simple the dish is to make and hope to try and make it at home someday.

Taleggio and 3-Hour Roasted Grape Pizza

Everyone probably realizes I choose the most random or interesting dish on a menu whenever I stumble across something unique.  Luckily, this pizza also caught my girlfriend's attention.  The taleggio and 3-hour roasted grape pizza is exactly as the name explains... grapes and cheese.  It is a neapolitan style pizza so think wood burning oven and from thin crust like in Naples, Italy.  We both loved the sweetness from the grapes, yet the mild-to-medium sharpness of the cheese.  I said the gradient because as the pizza cools, the cheese gets a little stronger.  In the beginning, the cheese was just creamy.  Towards the end of the meal, you get a little odor to the cheese, but still very mild.  The crust itself is soft in the middle and just enough crisp on the outside to hold it all together.  I recommend this pizza to everyone!


For dessert, the crostata was the no-brainer.  This is their seasonal option... the inside changes quite frequently.  In our case, it was filled with roasted pears.  The crust is made from a simple pastry dough sprinkled with sugar and baked in their huge pizza oven.  It is topped with vanilla bean gelato.  I was extremely disappointed to receive a dessert that was not warm... you would picture the crostata itself to hold some heat allowing that gelato to melt.  Ours literally was served at room temperature.  The pear filling was a perfect sweetness (not overwhelming with sugars) with a subtle cinnamon after taste.  It would have been perfect if it was warm... hope they take my advice!

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- Valet parking is a little steep... $12.00 for 3 hours.  Definitely look for street parking if you are feeling lucky.
- Do share pizzas.  I find one pizza per two people is just perfect.  That pizza and a small appetizer or dessert will leave you feeling satisfied beyond your needs.

- Don't forget to ask about the "wine of the week" specials.  Usually a great wine for a reasonable cost.
- Don't come if you didn't make reservations.  We saw a few couples waiting around for nearly our entire dining time before they were seated.

How far would I walk for this food?

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