by Rebecca Holland
In Naples, Italy, pizza is heavy on tomatoes and mozzarella, soft in the middle, and charred on the edges. At Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood, it’s exactly the same. The authenticity doesn’t stop with the pizza, which was the first in the United States to be certified by all three associations that govern Neapolitan style pizza (the Associazione Pizzauoli Napoletani, Accademia Italiana della Cucina, and L’Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana). The music, wine list, and decor are reminiscent of a rustic restaurant in Naples, probably run by a family (as Spacca Napoli is), always crowded, and always brimming with loud conversation and the enticing scent of baking dough.
Upon entering, notice the giant brick oven, built by third generation craftsmen in Naples. Spacca Napoli sources everything from Italian vendors, from flour to tomatoes to cheese, and even salt. You can tell. The tomatoes are sweet and the burrata starter is as creamy as any in Italy. The dough was the exact right texture (could have been just a tad saltier, but that’s maybe a matter of taste), and even though I was full after half I couldn’t help but mop up the sauce and finish the entire thing. The wine menu is unique for the U.S. too, filled with wines from Caserta, Napoli, and Salerno.
From the level of authenticity I never would have guessed the owners weren’t always in the restaurant business, or that their love affair with Italy and Italian food started late. I can’t wait to go back (maybe on a slower night) and talk to them about their journey.
At Spacca Napoli, you’re getting the real deal, so order what you would in Naples: burrata to start, daily fried appetizers, and a simple margherita pizza with red wine.
Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.