The wait times at Bonci Pizzeria in West Loop have varied during lunchtimes, as the acclaimed pizza-maker opened its doors on Aug. 15 in Chicago. The owners have spent time educating their new customers on how to order pizza. Diners grab a number, wait until a staffer calls it and then approach the counter. They can banter with staff to find out what’s in the display case or they can just point to which pizzas they want. Seasoned customers will also use their hands or fingers to show how large of a slice they want. Staff weighs the pizza, gives the customer a receipt and they can pay the cashier (with cards only). When the pizza is hot, their number will be called and they can pick up their slices.
Sounds simple enough, but is it enough to impress customers? Read on for some early impressions on this Italian import.
The wait: Opening day had waits of more than an hour with lines out the door:
Welcome to America @Panificio_Bonci! Chicago welcomes you with open arms! #BonciUSA pic.twitter.com/ylFyZGjQFt— Matt Leung (@mattleung) August 15, 2017
However, in the days that came after, off-peak times saw waits fall to 15 to 45 minutes or even no wait at all:
No wait at this time of day (@ Bonci Pizzeria in Chicago, IL) https://t.co/GFQJlkuHPZ— Carlos D Butler (@CDButler) August 16, 2017
The pizza: Bonci brings Chicago Roman-style pizza that’s crispy and airy made with heirloom wheat. Then there’s Gabriele Bonci’s topping combos. There was a club slice — two crusts with eggs, prosciutto, mayo, and basil. These are unique offerings. Yelper Wesley R. wrote that that the wait’s worth it: “If this is what pizza is like in Rome, I'm forever ruined for pizza.”
It seems customers have also quickly picked up on the concept:
U pick the type n size They cut, heat it n box it It's as if foccacia and pizza had a baby @BonciUSA #westloop #pizza #bonciusa #foodie pic.twitter.com/NJl03bxKMs— Michelle Siegman (@SiegmansSources) August 16, 2017
The hype: Bonci runs six pizzerias and bakeries in Italy and they picked Chicago for its first outside of Europe. That’s quite an honor. The Chicago location is based on the original, but being new construction it’s a bit nicer. How is Bonci fitting in? Well, members of Chicago’s pizza community are excited. That includes the folks behind Paulie Gee’s in Logan Square:
The industry love goes beyond pizza. Josh Kulp (right) from Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Avondale posed with Gabriele Bonci (middle) himself:
How does it measure up to Rome? Countless customers have posed for photos with Bonci, as he remains in America to ensure quality. While they’re playing it safe with ingredients (for the most part) as they introduce the pizza to Americans, patrons still want a reminder of their Italian vacations. Bonci is a tourist destination in Rome. American travelers share fond memories about their pizza with friends when they return home. It looks like Bonci Chicago is doing a good job bringing Rome to America.
What a wonderful reminder of our time in Rome. Grazie ragazzi!!!Posted by Jennifer Mintie on Saturday, August 19, 2017