I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of living in Chicago is the availability of amazing pizza. Although I love deep-dish pizza, it is nice to change it up sometimes. Bar Toma is known for its cooking methods, as they bake pizzas in a-burning oven, for extra-crispy crust with improved flavor and texture.
Not only does Bar Toma serve a great pizza, but they have a noteworthy mozzarella bar, a huge wine list and several types of meats and salads. In the morning, there is an espresso bar that chef Tony Mantuano (also chef at Spiaggia and of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” fame) created to feel like a traditional Italian bar. The outdoor patio is perfect for warm summer weather and Gold Coast people-watching at any time of the day.
To start your meal, order an appetizer from the mozzarella bar. I am what one might call a cheese enthusiast, so this was one of my favorite parts of Bar Toma. If you are in a group of at least four people, try the “Grand Tasting.” This dish is a sampling of several types of mozzarella, including fior di latte, mozzarella di bufala, smoked mozzarella and ciliegini, all served with arugula and vegetables. The fior di latte had a creamy, sweet taste, while the mozzarella di bufala had a smoky taste. This dish features contrasting flavors that ended up complementing each other in a really nice way.
Then, if you aren’t already full from the mozzarella bar, be sure to order one of the pizzas, which are large enough to share with one other person. Since the pizza is made in a wood-burning brick oven, the crust is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and easy to eat. The capriole goat cheese is one of the most flavorful pizzas, topped with goat cheese, hazelnuts, thyme, dates and a balsamico sauce. Since goat cheese is a little bit tangier and sweeter than most types of cheese, dates were a perfect topping, much to my surprise. The balsamic sauce and the hazelnuts were savory, giving the pizza a mix of flavors. If you would rather try something lighter, order the margherita pizza. This simple pizza, topped with mozzarella, tomato and basil, is light, refreshing and perfect for summer.
Sarah Amundsen is a senior at Loyola University Chicago, where she is pursuing studiesin in public relations and marketing. In her spare time, she is interested in running, fashion and eating her way through Chicago’s many great restaurants.