Pizza joints are notorious for being less Italian than they claim to be, feebly asserting their authenticity via Italian flags, cardboard cutouts of mustachioed servers and mafioso names. Torsten Reiss, owner of thin-crust pizza trattoria Apart, wouldn't have it that way. His pizza company, situated in front of the Welles Park promenade, is a piazza-centric, brick-oven spot that takes on an urban-chill vibe, especially when he pipes drum and bass over the stereo.
An Italian-turned-Chicagoan, Reiss worked in finance before cooking up the idea of serving gourmet pies at an affordable price in lickety-split time: eight to 10 minutes for that order bell to ring (delivery's free too). No slices spin in a heated box or sit on the counter, waiting to be reheated: Crisp personal-size pizzas come fresh from the oven.
But back to those prices: At lunch, a full meal for one costs $4.50, which includes any eight-inch pie and a drink. 14- and 18-inch pizzas range from $11-$18 and an 8-incher outside the lunch special is still only $5.75. And don't expect mundane toppings. Apart's signature pies include the Francese, smothered in mozzarella, ham, brie, egg and oregano, with cranberry sauce on the side; and the Capra-Ruccola, layered with handpicked arugula and goat cheese. But the simplest of them all, the saucey Margherita, will tide you over just fine.
There are 30 versions to choose from, along with a number of salads ($5-$8), all created by in-house pizza chef Gregoreo Baur, who tosses dough, arranges ingredients and cooks right in front of you while you wait. The result: New York foldable thin-crust squeezed into hand-held size.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Gavin Paul