A quest for a place in Chicago serving pizza slices help fuel Robert Garvey's 20-year obsession to create the perfect pizza dough. The Marine engineer has tinkered with his Viking oven at home so he can bake his crusts at 575 degrees. Thus, he and his wife have hosted pizza dinners at their Gold Coast home, gathering quite a following for their thin-crust pies. Now after a few false starts, Garvey is finally get around to opening his own restaurant, Robert's Pizza Co.
"There's a lot of good pizza in Chicago," Garvey said. "I think my pizza participates in the same space with some of the best pizza in the city."
They've taken over the former Flour & Stone spot, 355 E. Ohio St. in Streeterville, and eye a March 30 opening. They got into the space in November, but Garvey said construction delays stung. The biggest change to the space is the oven. The wood-burning oven that baked the Flour & Stone pies was too hot, Garvey said, at 700 degrees and would have burned Garvey's dough which forms a flaky crust that's foldable. Garvey replaced Flour & Stone's oven with a brick oven that hits that 575-degree sweet spot. Garvey and his crew have made other tweaks. For example, the second-floor windows have been replaced with clear glass.
The crusts are Garvey's canvas, and with fresh and unique toppings, they can be a conduit for all cuisines. He's baking a Chinese-inspired roast duck and huevos rancheros pizzas. He's got ideas for Indian-style and Korean-inspired kimchi pies, too. But don't forget the classics, as the fennel sausage with caramelized onions is his go-to pie. They'll add two nightly specials to the regular line up of 15 pies, along with four to six appetizers, such as roasted olives. Craft beer and wines will also be available.
Neapolitan pies abide by infamous bylaws, including the notion that the pizza needs to be enjoyed onsite. Carry outs are forbidden, as the thinking is the pizza won't be as delicious. But Neapolitan pizza isn't what Garvey will serve, as his pizzas have a kind of durability. They'll taste great days later, even cold for a quick breakfast, he said. Needless to say, carry out is available.