Serious Eats Chicago contributor Daniel Zemans checks in with another piece of intel on the Windy City pizza scene. --The Mgmt.
843 Dodge Avenue, Evanston IL 60202 (map); 847-475-2400; portofinospizzeria.com
Pizza Style: Thin crust
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny: The creativity on some of the pies is admirable, but as far as flavor goes, you get what you pay for
Price: From $7 for a 10-inch cheese to $24 for 18-inch special
After a successful visit to Evanston, Illinois's Union Pizzeria last week, I decided to give the northern Chicago suburb another shot. Portofino's Pizzeria has been on my radar since I wrote about my first attempt to find good gyro pizza at Italian Express. Long story short, while my last gyro pizza was fine, it was not nearly as good as I imagine the combination can be. With Portofino's, I took a big step in the wrong direction; there was nothing good about the pizza.
For what is essentially a fast food pizzeria on par with national chains, Portofino's is admirably ambitious with their toppings selection. Unfortunately, at least in the case of my pizza, inexplicably named "Police," the toppings were not very good. The pie was topped with gyro meat, tomato, onion, peperoncini, and a special garlic sauce in addition to mozzarella and tomato sauce. According to the menu there was supposed to be lettuce, but I didn't notice any.
When the highlight of the seven items on top of the crust is the jarred peperoncini, there's a large problem with the pizza. The gyro meat might well have been cooked the day before I got my pizza, the cheese, sauce, onions, and slices of tomatoes were pretty close to flavorless, and the "special garlic sauce" was about as thick as tartar sauce and not particularly garlicy.
At this point, it should not be surprising to report that this fast food pizzeria puts out a bad crust. I have written a few times about places where excellent toppings have saved a pizza with a mediocre or worse crust. I also think the opposite can be true, but the flavorless crust here is neither crisp nor chewy. I try to find the positive in every place I review on Slice, but I have nothing good to say about this pizza.