Daily Slice: Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar, Chicago

Daily Slice

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[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

If Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar only served booze, the small Humboldt Park spot would do just fine. But Executive Chef Duncan Biddulph's ever-changing menu, which always includes a few "crusts," helps keep the place packed on a seemingly permanent basis.

None of the three crusts on the menu when I visited screamed traditional pizza, but I've had butternut squash puree in lieu of tomato sauce before and I'm a fan, so I opted for the $10 crust topped with Benton's country ham, butternut squash purée, toasted black walnuts, frisée and maple syrup. The approximately 8-inch oval crust was more pita than traditional pizza, which would have been fine if it were served with more crispness. The toppings, on the other hand, were very good. The balance of sweet, salty, and, yes, nutty flavors worked well and the light crunch of the frisée and heavy crunch of the walnuts made for a nice textural contrast.

This isn't destination pizza by any stretch, but as an accompaniment to a nice drink in perhaps the most unpretentious wine bar I've ever encountered; it's something I'd happily eat again.

Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

954 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 (map) 773-292-1616; rootstockbar.com