Slice–Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. Daniel also blogs about Chicagoland pizza with his friends on the Chicago Pizza Club blog. —The Mgmt.
Fogo 2 Go
926 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago IL 60614 (map); 847-475-2400; fogo2go.com
Getting There: Brown Line to Diversey
Pizza Style: Thin-crust
Oven Type: Gas-fired Wood Stone brick oven
The Skinny: Difficult-to-categorize pizzeria features 60 different preset combinations of toppings in a style that blends Chicago thin, New York–style, and Neapolitan-style pizza
Price: 12-inch pies, $12 to $16; slices available, $2.99
When Brad Kollar went to Brazil, in 1997, I suspect he was not looking for a wife or a career. But after going to a São Paulo pizzeria on his first date with Daniela Bettinazzi, he began a journey to both. Last year, the Kollars opened Fogo 2 Go on the north side of Chicago, mercifully replacing an outpost of Papa Romeo's. The new pizzeria, which features a gas-fired Wood Stone oven, is a welcome addition to the pizza universe that serves up pies that defy traditional categorization.
In addition to offering pizzas with 60 different preset combinations of toppings, Fogo 2 Go also sells grilled chickens billed as "Brazilian charbroiled" and a couple other Brazilian treats like coxinha, a deep-fried teardrop-shape chicken-and-cheese concoction that I will definitely try on my next visit. The featured item is obviously the pizza, which falls in its own category that seems to be a blend of Chicago thin, New York, Neapolitan and, of course, Brazilian.
Faced with 60 different pizza choices that range from traditional American to Brazilian-influenced to purely Italian to a few pizzas that could well have been invented by the stoners a mile away at Ian's (reviewed here), I had no idea what to get at Fogo 2 Go. The guy at the register recommended the Alexia, a pie that comes with sauce, sweet Italian sausage, spicy capicola, ham, and soppressata, along with mozzarella, fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano as well as some dried oregano and fresh basil. It turned out to be a very good recommendation, not only because it was a flavor-packed pie, but also because it personified the unique style of Fogo to Go.
The quantity of toppings and cheese was classic Chicago - these guys pile a staggering amount on top of the crust. The sweet sausage and the spicy soppressata and capicola went together very well and the ham added some extra porky goodness. It was hard to single out any of the cheeses other than the mozzarella, but mozz was there in a quantity that made it stand up to all the meat.
The sauce, purportedly from a recipe crafted by Brazilian Daniela's Italian-born grandfather, also screamed Chicago (and perhaps Brazil as well, though I have no way of knowing). The thick heavily seasoned sauce was scooped onto the pie by the ladle and was a major part of each bite.
The part of the pizza that was definitely not traditional Chicago was the crust. The dough balls are hand-stretched, rolled with a pin and then tossed a bit before being placed on a metal tray for baking. The end result is a moderately chewy crust begging to be folded that is lightly crisp on the bottom and very crisp around the edges. When coming out of the oven, the end crust featured a number of large bubbles reminiscent of classic Neapolitan, though they all but disappeared within a minute.
I'll try to make it a point to get back to Fogo 2 Go to check out some of the more Brazlilian-themed pies. A number of pizzas feature homemade catupiry cheese, which I've never tried at all, let alone on a pizza, and the various pies that include corn as a topping are somewhat intriguing. Fogo 2 Go is not in the top tier of pizzas in the city, but it's worth checking out for the range of toppings and unique cross-cultural style.