Freelance writer Ruthie Kott contributed this article.
There’s a serious gap in the Chicago pizza world, says Chris Murphy, one of two founders of Flour & Stone, a Brooklyn-style pizza spot set to open in late summer.
The spot, just over 1,000 square feet, will seat about 20 to 30 people. It’s awaiting the build out, but Murphy wants “lots of wood, some strong colors and a lot of light” in the space. “In the same vein as an Epic Burger, without the neon orange, but sort of like an upscale fast-food place,” he says. “Clean and bright and welcoming.”
The concept is still evolving, but right now the plan is to have six recommended pizzas on the menu, about 20 different toppings and a few standard salads. Dressings—at least one creamy and a vinaigrette—will be made in-house. And the restaurant will be BYOB at first, but the owners hope to serve beer and wine eventually.
So, Brooklyn-style: “It’s not New York, floppy pizza,” says Murphy, a first-time restaurateur and full-time business consultant. “The dough is a little bit thicker, but it’s still a thin-crust pizza by Chicago standards.” Cooked in a very hot oven, the dough is very crispy on the outside but “it’s got a little bit of that stretch on the inside, a bit like a baguette.” The 6,000-pound Wood Stone gas oven will also cook the cheese so it’s “more brown and burbbly,” says Murphy. The tomato sauce is spicier and has more garlic and oregano than the sweeter Chicago sauce.
And Flour & Stone puts its unique twist on the food, making it more of a rustic, artisan kind of pizza. Using relatively traditional pizza toppings—pepperoni, locally grown vegetables, a Chicago-sourced sausage blend—Murphy and partner Shawn DeAmicis are going to try to stick with local and organic, but “we’re not going to go crazy.” Either way, Murphy says, the ingredients will be good quality.
Murphy and DeAmicis—an original investor in a successful Chicago pizza spot (he prefers not to name it)—started raising funds for their pizza place in the fall. The two, who were introduced years ago by DeAmicis’s sister, started working together after discovering a shared love of good food and pizza. “It’s really Shawn’s concept,” Murphy says: DiAmicis noticed the need for an artisan pizza place in Streeterville and had been looking into franchise opportunities. But when the two started seriously talking, Brooklyn-style seemed like an obvious choice.
Murphy is the expert on that particular style, which, he explains, is technically Upstate New York–style that “was polished in Brooklyn,” he says. Born in Rochester, N.Y., Murphy worked at local chain Pontillo’s Pizza. Flour & Stone’s model will be relatively similar to Pontillo’s, in terms of the sauce recipe and how the cooks will make the dough. It’ll be hand-tossed pizza, all the way, Murphy says with a laugh. “There’s not gonna be a dough sheeter within two miles of this place.”
Murphy’s not unrealistic in his goals. He doesn’t expect Flour & Stone to be everybody’s favorite pizza. “People are very personal with their pizza tastes.” But all they can do, he says, “is make a really good pizza.” And with the population density of Streeterville, if they can have one percent of its residents adopt Flour & Stone as their go-to pizza place, Murphy says, they’ll do just fine.
· New Pizzeria, Flour & Stone, Set to Open in Streeterville This Summer [Dish]
· Flour & Stone [website]