Inside University of Chicago’s New Acclaimed Thin-Crust Pizzeria

The owners of Pizzeria Da Nella have jumped from the North Side to the South Side, as on Friday they’ll open Nella Pizza & Pasta on the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus. Owners Frank and Nella Grassano closed their acclaimed Lincoln Park location after six years as they prepared to open a new Neapolitan pizzeria. The couple’s pies are among the most-popular thin-crust pizzas in Chicago.

Together, they’ve built a 3,200-square-foot restaurant with room for 75 indoors and another 55 on the patio. Grassano grew up in Naples, Italy and prides himself on authenticity. He follows all the rules set forth by VPN, the authority for Neapolitan pizza. The pizzas don’t always travel well as they taste best fresh out of the 900-degree oven. VPN revokes certification for those who offer take away.

The new pizzeria is on the first-floor of a new U of C residence hall at 1125 E. 55th St. Jeremiah Johnson at CBD Architects designed the space. Their projects include Au Cheval in West Loop and a variety of pizzerias including Piece in Wicker Park, Happy Camper in Old Town, and Gino’s East in Pilsen.

Check out the photos below. Nella Pizza & Pasta will eventually add brunch service, but hungry Hyde Parkers can check out their new pizzeria starting on Friday.

Nella Pizza & Pasta, 1125 E. 55th St., (773) 643-0603, open 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.


Welcome to Nella Pizza & Pasta at University of Chicago’s North Residential Commons.


This place is a better newer than the shuttered Lincoln Park location.


There’s plenty of Italian booze for customers.


The dining room features a variety of seating options.


The dining room is spacious.


The tables and counters use imported Italian marble.


The view from the bar area.


Grab a seat at the counter.


Behold this vintage Vespa, the Italian scooter of steel.


The shelves are stocked with Italian canned goods.


The pizza paddles provide a nice touch.


The wood-burning oven peeks through the counter.


Sophia Loren was born in Rome.
Marc Much


The 900-degree oven that bakes the pies.


Italian Artemide lighting hangs from the ceiling.


There are hooks on the hall to hang bags and coats.


“Che figata” loosely translates to “cool” in English.

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