It’s the season for comebacks for Chicago’s restaurant industry as Robert’s Pizza and Dough Co. is set to return on Friday inside a new location two years after its abrupt shutter. Founder Robert Garvey is back inside a large space serving thin-crust pies using a dough recipe he spent two decades tinkering. The spot is off the Chicago River at 465 N. McClurg Court.
Both Garvey and wife Dana Hokin have a mantra: “pizza is a journey.” That’s literal and figurative, as a three-week road trip in 1997 crossing through Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, and Nebraska inspired the restaurant’s decor. Hokin took a batch of Polaroid photos that designer Karen Herold and Studio K used in her plans. The journey may also refer to a court battle with a former business partner. That makes the reopening, now two years later, even sweeter.
“It’s been incredibly inspiring and uplifting with so many in the community stopping and asking Robert, to express their excitements about the pizza being back in Streeterville,” Hokin said.
Garvey, a former Marine engineer, would host dinners at home serving pizzas baked in ovens he altered to drive the temperatures up more than the manufacturer intended. Specialty pies including Peking duck and grilled sausage with caramelized onions. There’s a seafood pie and the “Finocchio” with braised fennel, fennel fronds, fennel sausage and pollen, fresh mozzarella, and honey. The experimenting continues as Garvey said he’s playing around with a thinner pizza stone. The stone recovers heat quicker versus traditional stones. This allows for more evenly crisp crusts.
They’ll have five to six beers on tap along with rosé and prosecco on tap. There’s a riverside patio with room for about 70 and an 18-seat bar. A private dining room and to-go window round out the space.
The journey continues for Robert’s Pizza. They’re back open on Friday.
Robert’s Pizza and Dough Co., 465 N. McClurg Court, (312) 265-1328, open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m Sunday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; delivery to be available via Chow Now, Caviar, and on the restaurant’s website.