The Far Northwest Side discovered Forno Rosso's Neapolitan pizzas three years ago when owner Nick Nitti opened his first pizzeria in Dunning. Nitti will soon bring his taste of Naples to Restaurant Row in the West Loop when he opens his second location by the end of the year at 1048 W. Randolph St.
"We're going to keep it really, really traditional with respect to Neapolitan pizza methods," Nitti said. "I put in temperature control for the dough and filtered water to re-create the environment, the temperatures in Naples."
They're going through the final inspections this week with the city, and Nitti hopes he can soon open his 20-table space with seating for 80. There's an outdoor space for the warmer months, too. They'll have craft cocktails, like a signature strawberry basil vodka martini, and a selection of 14 bottled Italian beers. The wines will come from Italy's Campaña region.
The pizzas, which come from a wood-burning oven, are simple. But that's what makes them great, Nitti said, giving Chicagoans a refreshing rest from the deep dish versus thin crust debate. The margherita and marinara pizzas are topped with imported mozzarella. The menu in the West Loop is similar to the original location, but Nitti said they'll have weekly specials to liven things up.
Nitti wants to transport guests back to Italy, saying the greatest compliment a visitor can give him is if their experience at Forno Rosso reminds them of a semester abroad, vacation or honeymoon. The interiors are old school with stucco walls, reminiscent of buildings in Naples. Nitti said he bought a barn in Michigan and used the wood for the ceiling that further helps bring the old world to the West Loop. He takes preserving tradition seriously.
"I'm very traditional; I did all my training in Naples for this," he said. "So when a place opens up and they say they're doing Neapolitan pizza and they don't follow the guidelines, it bothers me."
Forno Rosso has already caught the eye of LTHForum. Nitti isn't done with just two locations—he said he wants to open a third, and is already scouting spots.