There are so many reasons to love Floriole Cafe & Bakery (1220 W Webster Ave)—great pastries and coffee for breakfast and sandwiches and salads for lunch, plus a commitment to sustainability and local ingredients—and now we can add some of the best pizza in the city to that list.
The Lincoln Park bakery launched their Friday and Saturday pizza nights in May, but last month they started teaming up with local breweries and wine distributors to add a booze component. In September, they brought in beers from Five Rabbit Cerveceria, and October’s menu features pizzas designed to pair with red and white California wines from Vinejoy, like Future Perfect’s white blend.
The food menu is short and straightforward—two salads and three pies, one white, one red and one simple red. Plus there’s an ice cream dessert available, or you can pluck something from the dessert case.
We started with the warm salad, roasted fall vegetables with brown butter and sage vinaigrette, then ordered the red pizza, topped with eggplant caponata, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil. The other options were a white pie, with sweet Italian sausage, grapes, hazelnut cream sauce, SarVecchio and sage, and a simple red pie, with fresh mozzarella, garlic oil and parsley. The combination of toppings is thoughtful, with sweetness from the eggplant caponata contrasting with rich mozzarella and a tangy sauce, but it’s the light, crispy crust, made by baker Rachel Post, that steals the show.
Pastry Chef/Owner Sandra Holl says that Floriole had been doing one-off pizza nights in the past, and Post spurred the idea.
“She’s our bread baker and she’s just pizza-crazed,” Holl says. “We hadn’t really done pizza before, but she had done a pizza night at Vella Café in the Belly Shack space.”
Post started by making pizzettas (“baby pizzas,” Holl says), but then increased the size for dinner service. The pizzas are baked in a deck oven, and come out with crispy crust that’s also light and bubbly. Holl says that toppings change based on the lists of ingredients they receive from farmers, and that they’re currently switching up toppings on a monthly basis.
Starting in November, pizza nights will be Fridays 6-9pm, as there's also a demand for private weekend events in the space.
But while there may be a reduction in the frequency of pizza nights, Holl says that she and Post have talked about a pizza and ice cream concept.
“We’re not specifically hitting the pavement looking for a space, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled,” she says.