Giorgia Somma, the co-founder and owner of Mozzarella Store Pizza & Caffe, a bilevel Italian restaurant coming to Downtown Chicago across from the historic Water Tower, isn’t too fond of mozzarella made in America. Somma, a native of Naples, Italy last year invested in a dairy farm about 175 miles east of Chicago in Warren, Indiana. The Mozzarella Store will give Somma’s company a retail base to sell cheese as well as Neapolitan pizza, coffee, and small plates.
The Chicago location, 822 N. Michigan Avenue (the former Hershey’s Chocolate World), would be Somma’s first and they plan on opening 20 to 30 locations over the next five years across the U.S. Somma is targeting a late May opening on the Mag Mile.
The cheesemaking process in Italy creates a superior product, she said. The company has five generations of experience mixing traditional techniques with modern machinery. There’s a focus on organic ingredients, and using American organic cow milk gives the cheese a different taste compared to the cheese produced back in Italy, Somma said.
There’s a certain wow factor with the burrata thanks to fillings like walnut and pistachio creams, and a truffle mix, Somma said. America’s cheddar is great, but Somma prefers Italian mozzarella and burrata compared to the American counterparts: “It’s just not very good for me,” she said.
The Mozzarella Store will also import an Italian pizza chef. Giuseppe Tremigliozzi has been making pizzas since he was 16. They’ll also offer gluten-free pizza. Small plates include caprese and caponata Napoletena (tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, arugula, anchovies on a tarallo, a crisp round bread). There will also be grab and go options. Expect beer and wine too. The cafe will use a pull-down level espresso machine that ownership claims is unique to Chicago.
The space will feature 110 seats inside and 42 outside on a dog-friendly patio. The mezzanine level will have space for about 50 with power outlets. There’s also space for private events.
Somma lives off the feeling she gets when Americans try her Italian cheeses. She wants Golfo di Napoli Dairy to eventually supply cheese to restaurants across the country.
“It’s so exciting because they like my product and they understand quality,” she said.