WICKER PARK — In his nearly 4 ½ years in the pizza business, Scott Toth said he's learned a learned a thing or two about Chicago's appreciation for decent thin-crust pies.
Toth opened Lakeview's Pizzeria Serio, a sit-down, family-friendly spot, in 2010 and soon realized he'd love to run a smaller, more "artisan" operation, too.
Sure, he knows that when he opens Craft Pizza at 1252 N. Damen Ave. this Saturday, he won't be the only thin-crust option in town. But Toth maintains there's enough room for both him and places like Piece Brewery and Pizzeria and Dimo's.
"It’s good," Toth said of the competition. "It makes us all better.”
Toth plans to offer a casual, seat-yourself setting with a limited number of pizzas sold by the slice so neighbors can walk in and grab a bite to eat, he said.
His BYOB place will have a soft opening this weekend with a limited menu before having its official opening on June 3.
The restaurant, which is in the storefront once occupied by The Haute & The Dog, has some seating inside but plans to offer patio seating within a month, Toth said.
A few standouts on the full menu include a Devil in the White City pizza (the books is "required reading" for Chicagoans, Toth said); a white pie complete with hot capicola, hot peppers, peperoncini and red onions; The Wicker Pork, a tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza with cured, smoked canadian bacon, onions and pineapple; and bacon bianca, made with mozzarella, garlic, olive oil and cured bacon.
There's also a build-your-own pizza option, which includes vegan diaya cheese among the list of ingredients to choose from.
On weekend mornings, coffee from Sparrow Coffee Roastery along with bagels and pastries will be available.
And don't expect the pizzas to be carbon copies of Pizzerio Serio. Unlike the Lakeview spot, Craft Pizza uses a somewhat faster warm-rise dough instead of cold-rise and a more traditional oven rather than a brick oven.
Craft Pizza plans to make "small-batch" pies with slow-rise dough, which includes a 12-hour starter and then a 12-hour warm-rise.
“I think people are really going to taste the difference,” he said.
Toth said wants to use organic, antibiotic-free ingredients whenever possible and will have eco-friendly boxes made by Green Box to take home extra slices, he said.
According to the menu currently posted, whole pizzas range from about $12-$24, depending on the size.
Customers can get their pizzas to go, but for now, there's no delivery option.
"I'll leave that for Dominos and Papa John's," Toth said.
After Craft Pizza's June 3 opening, the restaurant plans to be open 4-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4-11 p.m. on Fridays, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m.-9 p.m. on Sundays.