Roseangela's: Stellar Sausage on a Classic Tavern-Cut Crust
Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. —The Mgmt.
2807 1/2 W. 95th Street, Evergreen Park IL 60805 (map); 708-422-2041; no website
Getting There: Drive
Pizza Style: Tavern
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny: A very solid rendition of a cracker crust pie with some outstanding sausage
Price: 14-inch pizza with one topping, $16.50
My sample size is small (one), but I am now ready to assume that any pizzeria with an old man playing the accordion in the dining room is going to put out a very satisfying meal. Roseangela's, the place where my accordion theory was born, has been a neighborhood institution for 55 years, first on the south side of Chicago and now just across the border in Evergreen Park.
Like most old-school thin-crust specialists in Chicago, Roseangela's does not offer stuffed or deep dish pizza. Actually, Roseangela's takes its devotion to the cracker crust a step further by not even identifying its pizzas as "thin crust." Chicago's thicker native pizza styles are relatively rare on the far south side, so perhaps this place, which has not achieved the outsider-attracting fame of nearby Vito & Nick's (reviewed here), does not need to put something so obvious on the menu like the fact that the pies have a thin cracker crust.
Roseangela's keeps it relatively simple with toppings options. The most exotic toppings are Italian Beef and giardiniera, which are actually not uncommon at tavern-style joints. Roseangela's is rumored to have a good Italian Beef sandwich, so I considered that meat for a topping but ultimately ordered sausage. I also got mushrooms, but they were canned and irrelevant to the flavor of the pie.
Far and away, the highlight of the pizza was the staggering quantity of exceptional sausage. Large hunks of house-made fennel-filled goodness covered almost every inch of the pie, adding great flavor and just the right amount of chew to each bite. On top of the sausage was a sea of mozzarella that I think scared Nick Kindelsperger but was just right for me and very appropriate for the style of pizza.
The sauce was sufficiently plentiful that even if it didn't exactly balance the cheese and sausage, it was at least noticeable in every bite. When isolated, the sauce did not have much seasoning, but there was more than enough flavor in the sausage to compensate for that. Texturally, the sauce was nice and moist and avoided the pastiness problem that can sometimes plague pies at this style of pizzeria.
The crust at Roseangela's is very thin and crisp on the bottom and even more crisp around the edge. It's not a gourmet bread, but that's not what it's trying to be. The crust's role is primarily functional—to hold up a lot of cheese, toppings, and sauce, and with the exception of the four squares in the middle, this crust did that very well. As for flavor, the crust adds some nice toastiness from a very basic crisp bread, but not much more than that.
Roseangela's has a large and loyal following for good reason beyond the $6 pitchers of MGD and Miller Lite. It's in the upper echelon of cracker cut pies and is a must-try for fans of that style, people who like good sausage, and, of course, people who can't get enough accordion.
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