Papà Giovanni's (Loves Park, IL)
I was all set to write about the pizza at Papà Giovanni's
and learned that it's temporarily closed when I went the Facebook page
. Ouch...hopefully things will get straightened out soon and the restaurant will be able to reopen, and since I'm a fairly optimistic person I'm going to continue on.
Papà Giovanni's is a Sicilian restaurant and pizzeria in the Rockford suburb of Loves Park. I'd seen TV commercials and after looking online I paid a visit on June 20, an overcast, somewhat dreary Saturday.
The blurry figure is Al, the head pizzaiolo. Like the two co-owners he's a native of Sicily and he's been making pizza in Rockford for many years; he used to own Rosa's on the west side and while I was there a former Rosa's customer stopped by to visit because she'd heard he's working there, and according to the waitress (Kim, who does a great job) this isn't unusual at all.
If you look at the menu
you'll see that he makes three styles of pizza: thin, Sicilian pan, and stuffed. This photo might give you an idea of what's coming...
Thin crust with sausage and mushrooms, my "evaluationary" toppings. The sausage had a good, slightly fennel flavor, the sauce was slightly sweet, the crust was crisp, and there was plenty of cheese.
Stuffed pizza with the same toppings, crust, and sauce recipes. Thin crust's big brother, if you will.
And the Sicilian pan crust pizza. This is what Al takes pride in and I suspect that he'd prefer to make it all the time. Both the crust and sauce recipes are different; I noticed a little bit of sharpness and less sweetness that weren't in the regular sauce, and the crust seemed a little more bread-like.
As you may have guessed, I went home with some leftovers.
The thin and stuffed pizzas were perfectly fine but I really liked the flavors and texture of the Sicilian version, and I'd absolutely order it again. In fact, when Al stopped by my table to chat (because a single guy with a camera who orders 3 pizzas is bound to attract attention) he was almost dismissive of the non-Sicilian pies as no big deal.
I certainly hope the owners are able to get their situation resolved and that Papà Giovanni's will be open once again. It's in a residential location and there are a couple of schools nearby, so it's a nice addition to the area.
A final note. I'm sure a reader or two is up in arms about the use of canned mushrooms, but I didn't ask why they and not fresh are used. If that's how Al likes to make his pizza then so be it, and I definitely remember canned mushrooms being fairly prevalent in Rockford-area pizzerias when I was growing up so it's not a new thing. So just lighten up, Mildred.
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2015/07/14 10:49:26