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#1
Posted March 21st 2007, 10:09am
Saw a sign for Coal oven pizza on an empty storefront on Grand, just west of Ogden. Any intelligence on this place?

Coal Fire
1321 W. Grand Ave.
312-226-2625
Open 5pm-11 everyday but Monday.
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Last edited by aschie30 on November 9th 2008, 10:34pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#2
Posted March 21st 2007, 10:17am
Good to hear. See thr link from last year's Dish on the topic:
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#3
Posted March 21st 2007, 12:36pm
That's interesting - I wonder if it is the bartender at Matchbox's planned pizza place although Dish had it tagged as Neapolitan-style. Usually, if a coal oven is involved, I tend to think the pizza will be NY style (which differs slightly, in my book, from Neapolitan). NY/Neapolitan style is definitely needed down in this neighborhood.

I wonder -- is it legal to use coal pizza ovens these days in Chicago? (Of course, why would the owner name the place that only to use gas-fired or wood-fired ovens? Stranger things have happened. Sapore di Napoli has Naples in its title but does not serve Neapolitan-style pizza. :wink: )
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#4
Posted March 21st 2007, 2:20pm
A coal-fired oven would be marvelous news for Chicago. That's what New Haven's famed pizzerias--Pepe's, Sally's, and Modern--use, and it's coal that separates Piece's well-intentioned New Haven-style pies from the real thing. At that temperature, you can get a nice crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside crust with random blackened edges. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this oven spits out hearty, high-quality East Coast pies rather than the froo-froo Neapolitan pizzas that seem to be all the rage these days.
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#5
Posted May 9th 2007, 10:13am
They opened yesterday. Located on Grand Avenue, about three storefronts west of Ogden. This is a cute place, wood floors, warm colors with a huge coal-fired oven in the back. I'm told that it gets about 800 degrees hot, sometimes more.

Due to time constraints, I had to order my pizzas takeout, and as such, all pizzas suffer when cooled down a bit. But still, these pies (I ordered two) had a bready, thin crust with all the integrity of an East Coast pizza. (The guys who own this are from Western Mass.) The crust was a little tough but I'm willing to give them a pass because mine had cooled down significantly before I had the chance to bite into it. Also, the pies coming right out of the oven looked amazing - big blistery crust. One noticeable difference from Neapolitan types is the black, dusty char on the top of the crust from the coal oven.

I ordered two pies - one margherita with fresh mozz and big whole pieces of basil on top and one with pepperoni, black olives and mushrooms. The sauce was tomatoey, with a tomatoey acidity, and lacking the cloying tomato paste taste of typical Chicago pizza. Both were quite tasty, and quite foldable. It is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that is without any East Coast/true Italian style pizza options.

But for the first day, there appeared to be no kinks and they had quite a crowd for opening day. Definitely worth getting down here for a try.
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#6
Posted May 9th 2007, 10:18am
I wonder if it is the bartender at Matchbox's planned pizza place


It is indeed Jay from Matchbox's place. I can't wait to try it!
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#7
Posted May 9th 2007, 10:19am
Thanks. Sounds good.

PS, D'Amato's is obviously a true Italian pizza option, coal oven to boot -- but I know we aren't talking about that kind of pie. Oggi's not that bad either.
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#8
Posted May 9th 2007, 10:24am
In this context, be sure to read the NYTimes piece on what a madhouse Nancy Silverton's LA pizza place has become. Makes a 30 minute wait seem downright reasonable at Spacca Napoli (which is mentioned-- oh my God, the New York Times actually knew that a bicoastal trend was happening here too! These are the end times!)

Anyway, if this place is good, get there before we have A-list directors fighting it out in the parking lot.
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#9
Posted May 9th 2007, 10:25am
JeffB wrote:PS, D'Amato's is obviously a true Italian pizza option, coal oven to boot -- but I know we aren't talking about that kind of pie. Oggi's not that bad either.


Yes, D'Amato's has an excellent bread pizza option, but not the type of elusive pizza pie with thin, bready crust that, as you point out, we're talking about. As for Oggi, okay in a pinch, but I think their crust is too cracker-y.
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#10
Posted May 9th 2007, 12:00pm
Ok, its good. Real good.

Inevitable New York comparisons: If you like Totonno's, Patsy's, Luzzo's, Joe's, or Johnny's. Go. Tonight.

If you like thin crust sausage pizza: Go. IMO the best sausage pizza in the city of Chicago.

Details:
Cook time around 2:30 minutes. Oven floor around 700F. Mix of coal and wood. All-purpose flour gives more of a bread like crust vs. Spacca's delicate 00 flour crust. Three kinds of mozzerella. Fresh local sausage. Sauce La Squisita tomatoes. No delivery for now.


Sausage pizza:
Image


"White" pizza with mozzarella and ricotta cheese:
Image

Hot Salami with red peppers pizza:
Image


Coal Fire
1321 W. Grand Ave.
312-226-2625
Open 5pm-11 everyday but Monday.
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#11
Posted May 9th 2007, 1:30pm
Holy crap. Visually, I'd say he's nailing it already.

Chicago sausage on a Totonno's looking pie? Guess I picked the wrong day to give up pizza.
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#12
Posted May 9th 2007, 2:21pm
Holy G-D! These look good. About how many tables are at this place?
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#13
Posted May 9th 2007, 2:25pm
About 8 4-tops. BYOB is okay.
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#14
Posted May 9th 2007, 3:00pm
JeffB wrote: Guess I picked the wrong day to give up pizza.


JeffB, you just made me spit water all over my monitor with that Airplane reference.

I'm looking forward to trying this place.

-John
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#15
Posted May 9th 2007, 4:40pm
chicago station wrote:Mix of coal and wood


Does Chicago not have restrictions on coal ovens like NYC? I know there are still a few of the old NYC spots with coal burners that are grandfathered in but the current regs prohibit the use of such ovens.

In any case, those pics look great and Coal Fire is about 10 min from my current apartment. I'll defiantly have to give it a try.

Do you work there Chicago Station? Nothing wrong with it if you do at all, I'm just curious as you seem to have some pretty intamate knowledge of the ovens, ingriedents, and methods. If ya do, drop me a PM so I know who to say "hi" to when I stop in :D . In any event, welcome to the boards!
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#16
Posted May 9th 2007, 6:18pm
Do you work there Chicago Station?


Nope.

No interest in Coal Fire other than wanting quality cheese and sausage near the loop. The information came last night from Jay who makes Coal Fire's pizza. For those familiar with NY pizza: the crust is like Totonno's and the cheese and sauce was like Johnny's in Mt. Vernon. The sausage--mercifully- is pure Chicago.

Note also that Coal Fire's dry yeast dough is prepared a day before its fired.
Last edited by chicago station on May 9th 2007, 6:55pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#17
Posted May 9th 2007, 6:20pm
Very nice report, for a first-timer or anybody else, C.S. Welcome to LTHForum!
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#18
Posted May 9th 2007, 6:23pm
chicago station wrote:Nope.

No interest in Coal Fire other than wanting quality cheese and sausage near the loop.


Darn! Was hoping for an "inside" man :wink: . Killer research then!
Last edited by Stagger on May 9th 2007, 6:35pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#19
Posted May 9th 2007, 6:32pm
We went there for an early dinner tonight, had a white pizza (with the ricotta omitted, I should really add ricotta/cottage cheese to my list..) and a sausage.

The white pizza had a really nice hit of black pepper in points, but the crust was slightly overdone, at least compared to the truly excellent crust on the sausage.

I slightly preferred the sausage, beth slightly preferred the white. We loved both, we love that it's half a mile from our route home from work, and we love the staff.

I can only imagine that their pizza will get better and better as time goes on, but it's already one of the best pizzas in the city.

We ran into PIGMON and trixie-pea while we were there. We ordered, unknowingly, basically the same things they had ordered, so expect an eerily similar report soon.
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#20
Posted May 9th 2007, 9:37pm
I live a block from this new place and we have been waiting for it to open. I stopped in to pick up a menu tonight and it looks very promising. It is great to read such positive reviews.

We are looking forward to trying it this week.

FYI... it is open Tuesday - Sunday from 5-11pm.
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#21
Posted May 10th 2007, 11:04am
Do they make the white clam pizza as they do in Conn. It is a strange combo, but I loved it the few times that I have had it.
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#22
Posted May 10th 2007, 12:15pm
Got a peperoni red pie and a ricotta white pie. It was good but not the best I have had. Right around 3/4 of the way there. First of, it isn't a lot of pizza. 2 x 14" pies for nearly $30. I'm not a quantity nut but I can say that the same cash at Sally's or Modern gets me as much as I can eat and still a few slices to take home. 3 of us demolished 2 pizzas and probably could have done another half. The topping were a bit skimpy, especially on the meat where the topping is $3. Given this, that came about to about 20 cents per slice. I wasn't looking for a "Domino's" like fat explosion of shingled peperoni, but having the topping in, say, half the bites would have been nice. Again, this is not a huge deal and the prices are not inconsistent with similar Chicago spots, I'm just a spoiled East Coaster. The sauce is good. On the first bite, it has an almost high-school cafeteria like sweetness that is a bit off putting but by the time you take the second you realize that it is just the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and not the result of tampering.

The last 2 things, the cheese and crust almost appeared to be at odds with each other. To be fair, this was the strong point on both pies. The mozz was clearly fresh and had had a wonderful flavor. Only complaint was that it could have cooked a bit more. On the other hand the crust was some of the better thin crust I have had in Chicago. On par with NYC's best or New Haven? Not quite for the examples I had (then again it was take out... I have to eat there before I pass real judgement). The crust was perfectly cooked and there is where I run into an issue. How to keep the crust exactly as it was but get some more heat on the cheese and toppings? The easy answer would be to lower the oven temp but that is obviously no good. I'm jsut hoping to get coloring like the photos above rather than paper white cheese. For the most part these are small gripes on what should be a great addition to the Chicago thin crust scene. I will certainly return and look forward to watching the place come into their own.
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#23
Posted May 10th 2007, 1:32pm
I also ate an early dinner here yesterday and saw that LTH was fully represented. Ordered a white pizza and meat pizza. I fully agree with Gleam's thoughts posted above. Although I included the ricotta on my white pizza and I was very happy that I did. The meat pizza had a very nice spice level to it with the italian meats on top. A good match when following the white pizza -- although it was a little difficult to fully appreciate the white after my mouth was felling the effects (good effects) of a couple pieces of the spicy meat pizza. While Spacca Napoli still tops my list, Coal Oven is in my hood and for only a couple of days in operation put together two exellent pizzas yesterday. I will surely return.
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#24
Posted May 10th 2007, 2:25pm
Five minutes in the life of my pizza. And a very nice pizza it was.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Especially considering it was their second day, I was pretty impressed. They're still tweaking things so it will be very interesting to see how the pizzas evolve.
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#25
Posted May 10th 2007, 2:48pm
One thing I'll say: That's about 5x the amount of sausage I had on mine. Did you order it off the back side of the menu, or create your own?

I wonder if they went a little overboard for the camera :)

I'd also love to see them start using some fresh mozzarella instead of the low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella they seem to be currently using.

Based on our first visit, Beth prefers Coal Oven to Spacca Napoli. I prefer Spacca Napoli.

But they are, despite both being thin and cooked in hot ovens, fairly different pizzas.
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Ed Fisher
my chicago food photos

RIP LTH.
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#26
Posted May 10th 2007, 3:15pm
gleam wrote:One thing I'll say: That's about 5x the amount of sausage I had on mine. Did you order it off the back side of the menu, or create your own?

I wonder if they went a little overboard for the camera :)

I ordered directly from Jay (I know him from the Matchbox) before I had a chance to look over the menu. But I'm not sure I received any special treatment because someone else assembled the pizza (Jay baked it) and I didn't pull out the camera until the pizza was ready for the oven. Lots of sausage was a mixed blessing actually. The big pieces didn't cook quite as thoroughly as the small ones. Jay realized this right away and tried to compensate during cooking.

gleam wrote:I'd also love to see them start using some fresh mozzarella instead of the low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella they seem to be currently using.

I might be confused about this but I thought they use different types of mozzarella (not sure what type gets used for what pizza). Does anyone know more about this?
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#27
Posted May 10th 2007, 3:26pm
Rene G wrote:I might be confused about this but I thought they use different types of mozzarella (not sure what type gets used for what pizza). Does anyone know more about this?


My margherita pizza had the typical "globs" of fresh mozzarella, which was and looks different from the mozz that's on the other pizzas. That's not surprising to me; this is very much a NY/East Coast style pizza, and fresh mozz wouldn't necessarily be a staple on those types, at least not in my experience with it.
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#28
Posted May 10th 2007, 3:34pm
I definitely agree with Ed on the amount of sausage. My pie had significantly less.

Rene G, I think my wife and I must have been seated next to you since I noticed the picture taking.

We ordered two pizza: a sausage and a mushroom with black olive, which was supposed to include basil and prosciutto. I had already scarfed a couple peaces before I noticed the mistake, so did not send it back.

The pizza is probably closer to NY style than Neapolitan in my opionion. A little crisper all around. Both pizzas were very good and look forward to giving them another try. I can only imagine the crowds at this place once everything is streamlined.
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#29
Posted May 10th 2007, 3:48pm
I'm quite likely wrong about the cheese. I had half of a slice of tp & PIGMON's margherita, and the cheese just didn't taste quite like what I expect fresh mozzarella to taste like. It definitely looked, tasted, and melted differently than the mozzarella on the other pizzas.

tp and PIGMON spoke to Jay about the cheese briefly, so hopefully they'll correct me.
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Ed Fisher
my chicago food photos

RIP LTH.
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#30
Posted May 10th 2007, 5:06pm
Rene G wrote:Image


This looks like the oven is wood fired. Did you see any evidence of coal being used in the oven?
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