PILSEN — Chef Matt Wilde wanted to open a boutique that stood out — so he turned to an unexpected ingredient for his batter: Old Style beer.
The combination of beer, 00 flour, active yeast, and a secret spice blend make Wilde’s “Pilsen-style” pizza, a cross between New York style and Sicilian style that’s collapsible but has a quality of bread, said Wilde. Old Style was a great beer choice in the dough because it doesn’t impart too much flavor that would interfere with the pizza itself, he said.
The concoction has proven popular since Wilde opened Bob’s Pizza at 1659 W. 21st St. in 2019. He’s added two more locations and has his eye on more locations.
“It’s still a yeast dough, but we’re cold fermenting with that lager carbonation,” Wilde said. “It’s just crazy how they all work together. It took a long time to master it. »
Wilde, a Minneapolis native, said he opened his first Bob’s restaurant after working primarily in the food industry. It bears the name of one of its business partners.
“I never really saw myself making pizza or being in a kitchen that wasn’t gourmet,” Wilde said. “If we were going to do pizza, I wanted to do something different, and the integrity had to be pretty high.”
After finding success with the Pilsen location, Wilde opened Bob’s Pizza in Old Town, 1512 N. LaSalle Dr., in June 2020, and another in suburban Evanston at 616 Davis St. in March. A West Loop location temporarily closed during the pandemic.
At each location, customers can grab 16-inch pizzas with toppings ranging from the classic to the unusual.
The pickle pizza “is by far our most consumed pizza,” Wilde said. “People came from out of state for this.”
The Pickle Pizza ($22) includes a garlic cream base, slices of mortadella, Wilde’s signature blend of cheeses, dill pickles and fresh dill.
Other pies include the spinach pesto and stracciatella pizza ($22) topped with prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula, and the wild mushroom pizza ($22) with onions, cheese and white balsamic.
Wilde also wanted something special to set his pepperoni and sausage pizzas apart. His classic pepperoni comes with whole basil leaves, while the sausage pizza includes pickled onions.
Wilde said each pizza is sprinkled with sea salt, herbs and black pepper.
“I always like to say that one of the things that really separates our pizza from the next is that when our pizza comes out of the oven, we top the pizza like you would on the front line of a gourmet kitchen,” Wilde said. . .
In addition to the specialty pizzas, customers can pick up a special March Madness-themed pizza at all Bob’s Pizza locations through April 10.
The Heat Check pizza features a classic tomato sauce with spiced sliced beef, pickled habanero peppers, basil, garlic, lime creme and a blend of cheeses.
Wilde said he’s eyeing neighborhoods to find a fifth home for Bob’s Pizza, but he hasn’t decided on anything yet.
In the meantime, Wilde will be taking part in Steve Dolinsky’s Chicago Pizza Festival, which will showcase different pizza styles from around the city on July 23-24.
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