In their first move after closing Baffo, Eataly Chicago today will open a second pizza concept. It's called Pizza alla Pala, named after the wooden paddles the puffy central Italian pizzas are served on. The opening is described as a way to liven-up the second floor piazza and is expected to be the first in a series of moves.
No, they're aren't replacing one pizza spot with another. The pizzas served at Pala come from a Polin electric oven, differing from the wood-burning oven pizzas from Eataly's Pizza Napoletana on the other side of the second floor. Pala's pizzas are oval-shaped. Some toppings are added after they come out of the 580-degree oven. The Neapolitan pizzas are baked at 900 degrees, in comparison.
The menu includes one distinctly American pie: The Eggs n' Bacon (Nueske's bacon, cheddar, egg and black pepper). There's nine pizzas in all (ranging from $16 to $22), including the Parmigiana (eggplant, mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and basil). These pizzas are more sharable than Eataly's Neapolitan pies, and management hopes patrons snack on the pizzas, using the spot as the ideal meeting point for folks to begin their visit.
Flour producer Mulino Marino came up with the idea, and they sent over baker Francesco Racanelli from Italy to Chicago. Racanelli arrived to the states three months ago and will oversee Eataly Chicago pizza operation for three months. In a bit of food-court musical chairs, Pala takes over the I Salumi I Formaggi station. The latter was moved to where the mozzarella was displayed, still on the second floor.
When Eataly Chicago closed fine-dining restaurant Baffo, reps said it was because it failed to capture the Chicago diner and that customers should expect a series of moves in upcoming months. Eataly's first response is a pizza spot, and though they've served other types of pizza in the past, they've never opened a concept such as Pala, serving this particular kind.
What's next for Eataly? Pizza alla Pala opens today.