Opening May, the Mozzarella Store, Pizza & Caffè (822 N. Michigan), is a restaurant and specialty retail shop in the heart of Chicago steps from Michigan Avenue. Unique to the U.S., the Mozzarella Store offers fresh-made-daily “Fior di Latte” mozzarella and burrata, along with fresh and aged Italian cheeses made from local organic milk, created the traditional Italian way. The menu features a wide range of Italian offerings, including pizza Napoletana, coffee, small plates, and other Italian specialties with an organic focus.
Golfo di Napoli Dairy, a new $9.5-million facility in Warren, IN from the same owners will supply the Mozzarella Store with local organic dairy products made using traditional techniques from Naples, Italy. All of the cheeses offered will come from the factory, except for the made-in-house “Fior di Latte” and burrata, which are made by an Italian cheesemaker daily. The team is proud to only offer cheeses made from local organic cow’s milk.
Locals and tourists alike will experience world-class service and unique offerings they can’t find anywhere else in Chicago and beyond with every visit.
Cheese is the star at the Mozzarella Store, in particular, the “Fior di Latte” mozzarella, which translates to “milk’s flower” for its exceptional quality, as well as burrata. These items feature organic milk and are made by Armando Vanacore, a professional cheesemaker from Campania, Italy who has a 10-year history of creating delicious cheeses. Each day, during special times of the day, guests can watch as Vanacore creates cheeses behind a glass wall in the store and from Pearson St. Each of the fresh and aged cheeses offered is either made in the traditional, authentic “pasta filata” or “stretched-curd” methods or a derivative of such processes, such as the ricotta. Cheese menu highlights include stuffed burrata with pistachio cream, walnuts, and real black truffle, as well as “sfoglia,” which are mozzarella sheets filled with a variety of ingredients such as grilled vegetables and salumi. The cheeses are used throughout the menu for pizzas, panini, small plates or pre-packaged to-go items.
The Napoletana pizzeria is led by a Master Pizzaiolo from Italy who has been crafting Pizze Napoletan and has spent years training under Master Pizzaioli, taking the best from each of them to perfect his own, unique method for producing Pizza Napoletana. Guests will see a twist on the dough, with small alterations to create a crust that not only keeps the beautiful texture and flavor of the traditional crust, but that is also easier to digest. Tremigliozzi is a “freestyle” Pizzaiolo, meaning he works the dough into the perfect shape by tossing and spinning it around in his hands. Whenever possible, each of the pizza toppings used is organic or sourced from biologically-conscious companies in Italy, and a gluten-free dough is available upon request. The pizzeria features a custom built-in pizza oven that can cook up to 20 pizzas at a time. The menu will also include traditional Neapolitan small plates, such as Caprese and Caponata Napoletana, made with tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, arugula, and anchovies on a crisp round bread, called a Tarallo.
The Caffè program is led by a caffè manager who was trained in Napoli, Italy for nearly a month on the classic pull-down lever espresso machine as well as the culture around coffee in Italy. There are no other cafes in Chicago utilizing this type of espresso machine, which creates the perfect cup of Napoletano espresso and creamy lattes. The Mozzarella Store’s specialty caffè drink, the “Caffè del Nonno,” is traditionally enjoyed during the summer in Napoli as an alternative to hot espresso, or simply as a dessert any time of year. Their Caffè del Nonno is a blend of chilled espresso, Panna (cream) and sugar, whipped to form a thick, fluffy cream. Guests can garnish their cup with various syrups, nuts or cocoa.
Special Napoletano pastries are made in house and baked fresh daily. Highlights include Brioche Con Gelato “Fior di Latte” (close to an ice cream sandwich, but softer, with gelato and brioche), and the most famous sweet pastry in Naples, sfogliatella, a flaky, layered pastry filled with sweetened ricotta, born in the XVIII century. The “Fior di Latte” Gelato is made with organic milk, cream, and sugar, with no added flavors. Enjoy it as an “Americano” with the addition of favorite syrups and toppings, like chocolate sauce, Nutella, crushed nuts or amarena cherries.
A small, carefully selected menu of Italian wines and beers will be offered throughout the day, including reds, whites, and proseccos.
The Mozzarella Store will also sell its own authentic, Italian-imported food products for retail so guests can enjoy some of the same products that are used in the store. Items will include San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, grilled eggplant, broccoli in olive oil, grilled peppers, pistachio cream, truffle cream, and more.
Local firm Aria Architects has partnered with an award-winning architecture group from Italy to create a cohesive look that features the best in Italian design. The layout is streamlined and easy to navigate whether guests are dining in, taking items to go or shopping the retail section. The modern space is separated into sections including the Caffè, Grab'N'Go counter and dine-in Pizzeria. The mezzanine level has comfortable seating with power outlets, making it a perfect place to sip coffee and work during the day. Evening visits are perfect for a casual dinner, group gathering or dessert and wine while enjoying views of Michigan Avenue.
The dog-friendly patio will feature about 42 seats, including tables for two and four along Pearson St. and Michigan Avenue. Planters and greenery complimenting Italian-style seating will welcome guests in the warmer months.
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