Volcanic Brick Oven Pizza By Nella Grassano | Chicago

Nella Grassano--and her superb pizza--is back

Nella Grassano doesn't let anyone else make her dough.

Sure, her brother Enzo can stretch and decorate it before sliding it into the volcanic brick oven.

But at the new Pizzeria da Nella in Lincoln Park, Grassano works every piece of dough herself, resting and rolling it according to a recipe passed down from her father, a third-generation Italian pizzaiolo.

Pizzeria da Nella makes Grassano an owner for the first time in her six-year Chicago career. To celebrate, she's built an expansive menu of dishes–only half of which come from that striking oven. There's a litany of antipasti, including sette mari (seven types of fish; $18 for two people) and superb fried eggplant draped in garlicky, six-hour-simmered tomato sauce. There's also pasta, like house-made gnocchi with clams, zucchini blossoms, garlic and white wine ($16).

But a blistered, chewy, crusted round is a requisite. We're partial to the Alessia, white pizza with smoked mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, salami and a blanket of arugula ($15).

On our last visit, we followed Grassano's suggestion: Calzone di Napoli, its cratered, half-moon terrain hiding tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta, salami and basil between two folds of crust ($14). We took one bite and raised a hand in saluto.

Pizzeria da Nella; 1443 W. Fullerton Ave.; 773-281-6600 or pizzeriadanella.com