Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe & Pizzeria

1925 North Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
312.642.4700
website

A family business, Rocco Ranalli’s Cafe & Pizza in downtown Chicago’s central Loop neighborhood seems like sort of a jack-of-all-trades of a restaurant. It welcomes children but still plays up its bar. It’s got plenty of local beers, but it’s also got a heavy emphasis on Chicago sports. These sorts of things seem like they would attract opposite, and clashing, crowds, but it all seems to be managed well. The end result is an altogether pleasant place where you could enjoy yourself with just about any crowd. The food follows sort of the same formula.

The pizza, the most important item on the menu of course, was good, but not great. My chief problem seems to have been the crust. You see, the Chicago-style deep dish pizza benefits from a crispy thin crust which gives it body. There are plenty of other moist and juicy ingredients to make it good. Unfortunately, when I tried the thin crust Margherita pizza, that same thin, crispy crust really dried out the rest of the pizza. Either the crust is too thick and the proportion is off, or the pizza needs more sauce. Something’s really throwing it off for me.

The other items on the menu are good, though. I tried the sandwiches, and they’re overloaded with delicious ingredients, they’re just great, and very filling, too. The ingredients are are cooked well, nothing is dry. Even the fries — the easiest thing to make — taste particularly good. I can’t tell if they’re cut in-house but they’re nonetheless worth trying.

The people seem nice, but delivery service seems to be slow. Maybe I got bum luck, but there are also innumerable pizza places around this city, many of which are better known. If you don’t get your pizza out faster, there are just too many other businesses out there to replace you. I hate to say it, since the people are nice.

The crux of my criticism of this place is that it seems to be trying to do too much with its menu. There is, of course, a large menu of Italian pizzas, pastas and sandwiches, but there’s also a menu of burgers. There’s a menu of barbecue. There’s a menu of Tex-mex dishes. This doesn’t at all seem like the kind of place that would be making those things. I would definitely say you should be going here to try the food, because what they do well, they do very well. At the same time, though, maybe that mile-long menu should be shortened just a little bit to emphasize what they do best.

Recommendations

  • The deep dish pizza is great, it’s a good contender in the busy Chicago pizza scene. The other kinds of pizza, though, especially the thin crust, I didn’t like quite as much.
  • Delivery can be slow, at least compared to the other pizza places in town.
  • On the same token, the bar seems to be the kind of place where just about any crowd would feel comfortable.

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