Chicago's known for the city's deep-dish and square-cut thin-crust pizzas, but now Chris Macchia and Rich Labriola want to introduce the city to a third iteration. Diners will have their chances to try their ciabatta-crust pizza when Pizza Bar opens in June in Oak Brook.
"The ciabatta crust is amazing, it's the best pizza I've ever had, hands down," gushed Macchia. "It's almost creamy inside, and it's really, really crispy."
There's also a Chicago location of Pizza Bar in the works sometime next year at 151 N. Michigan Ave. The duo's utilizing Labriola's baking expertise and a coal-fire oven to bake the pies. Opening up a pizza-centric establishment is a passion project for Macchia, the former executive chef and partner at Coco Pazzo and The Florentine. Building a project from the ground up, instead of just popping into already finished infrastructure is exciting for the chef.
"The last couple of gigs I had, the places were already established with an identity," Macchia said. "I can't wait to create our own concept with Rich and mold it from the beginning."
Macchia met Labriola (who sold his namesake baking company) about five years ago, but his "fixation" on pizza began in culinary school and continued at Coco Pazzo, which used a wood-burning oven. While Pizza Bar's coal-fire oven won't reach as high of a temperature, Macchia believes it works better with Labriola's pizza dough. Pizza Bar will serve the signature ciabatta crusts, as well as "lighter" deep-dish and thin-crust pies. This is not your typical neapolitan pizza joint, Macchia stressed.
Oak Brook (inside the Oakbrook Promenade shopping center) will tout a large patio, and both locations will offer several craft beer options, as well as sandwiches and pastas. They'll port over some of menu offerings at Labriola Ristorante & Cafe, which opened earlier this year off Michigan Avenue: "We just don't want to be a one-trick pony," Macchia said.
The Chicago location is slated to open sometime next year, as lease negotiations continue, according to Crain's, which first reported the concept. Macchia said they'll likely be more playful with ingredients, offering more seasonal selections in the city compared to Oak Brook. The Chicago spot will also cater to nightlife with a variety of whiskeys: "We want to be late night and fun," Macchia said.