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Cherries And Foie Gras On Pizza? Bonci Brings Eclectic Pies To West Loop

By Ariel Cheung | August 1, 2017 7:37am
 The Italian pizzerium will open in mid-August.
Bonci Pizza Bringing Quirky Rectangular Pies To West Loop
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FULTON MARKET — The latest pizza trend to hit the states is coming to the West Loop, and it's rectangular, cut with scissors and loaded with crazy toppings like raspberries and flower petals.

Blasphemy, you say? Take it up with Rome.

Bonci Pizzerium, which launched just north of the Vatican City in 2003, is bound for the U.S., opening the first American eatery at 161 N. Sangamon St. in trendy Fulton Market within the next couple weeks.

Diners will order slices of pizza cut with scissors from the quick service counter, like at the Pizzerium in Rome once visited by Anthony Bourdain. The al taglio-style pizza — literally "by the cut" or slice in Italian — is new to Chicago, but popular elsewhere.

"Never in a million years would I think this would ever [work]," Bourdain said of Bonci's eclectic topping selection during a 2011 episode of "The Layover."

"Looking at it, I'm thinking, 'No, no, no, no, but then —" he trailed off, popping a square of goat cheese and roasted raspberry-laden pizza into his mouth.

Chef Gabriele Bonci claims to have created more than 1,500 pizza recipes, with up to 20 varieties available daily of the pick-your-size, pay-by-the-ounce slices. Among them are selections made with chicken, artichoke and olives; hummus, broccoli and pesto; and cherries and foie gras.

Bourdain, who less favorably considers Chicago deep dish to be a "Midwestern mutation of pizza," called Bonci "a departure from the classics," but praised the chef's dough, which was made with a carefully tended, 200-year-old baker's yeast that Bonci said was his "No. 1" component to making a great pizza.

Named for its chef and founder, Bonci Pizzeria specializes in rectangular slices with unusual toppings. [Provided/Arianna Giuntini]

Hundreds of unusual pizzas make up the offerings at Bonci Pizzerium, which will open its first U.S. location in the West Loop later this month. [Provided/Arianna Giuntini]

The crust, which takes 48 hours to make, is thick enough to bear the weight of Bonci's fanciful toppings, which will have to be good to make a dent in the crowded West Loop pizza scene.

Along with a daily selection of pizzas, Bonci will serve sandwiches, salads, arancini-like suppli and craft beer and wine. The restaurant will not accept cash, joining a rash of restaurants around the United States going cashless.

The pizzeria will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until 9 p.m. Sundays.

Renovations have been underway for several weeks, as revealed in several Facebook photos.

Bonci will open at Sangamon and Randolph, housed inside the 900 West development borne from a $52 million acquisition of an entire block of buildings from Quality Food Products.

Tucker Development plans to reconfigure 11 buildings at 912-24 W. Randolph St., 151-85 N. Sangamon St. and the entire block of West Lake Street into retail and office space.

RELATED: Tax Break Will Help Fulton Market Developer Rehab Bulidings, Alderman Says

Under the rehab project, Tucker Development also plans to build a new 18-story residential tower on a parking lot at Peoria and Lake Streets. The project, which has gone through several modifications since Tucker bought the parcel in 2015, will feature 46,000 square feet of retail and 45,000 square feet of office space.