A press release came across my inbox this week, promising yet another pizza place along Clybourn in Lincoln Park, opening later this month. While Pequod’s is more old school, offering standard thin and Chicago pan pizza, and Sono Wood Fired goes for a more Neapolitan-style pie, baked rapidly in a blazing-hot oven (yet somehow doesn’t nail the crust), redFlame is promising our pizza-crazy city yet another style; something only devotees of a certain Providence, RI restaurant can get excited about: grilled pizza.
The PR folks say their pizza will feature a “two-flame” process - one will grill the dough, while another will heat the toppings. Could this be the pizza of our dreams? The one that George Germon and Johanne Killeen created at Al Forno, almost exactly 31 years ago? I have a good friend who swears by Germon’s pizza - this from a guy who has devoured Chris Bianco’s work in Phoenix and Nancy Silverton’s perfect pies in L.A. There is something about that charred underbelly, providing both crunch and extra flavor, that puts his pizzas in a class by themselves. Frankly, I’m a little surprised no one else in town has mentioned this coincidence.
Mario Batali used to “grill” his pizzas at Otto, but they were cooked on a flat top griddle, inhibiting any potential char flavor (not sure if they’re still cooking them that way); people in New Haven, CT swear by Sally’s (I prefer Frank Pepe’s) for coal-fired excellence; In New York, fans will line up for Co. and Motorino’s artisanal pies. Chicago has become Great Lake country - despite customers bitching about the interminable waits. But Providence has always held a special place for pizza lovers of a certain strain. I, for one, am looking forward to tasting redFlame’s crust, and deep down, am hoping it lives up to their own hype.