I know many of you are reading the title and wondering, “how is pizza Paleo?” Well, that’s why this place is awesome. They do have options! Plenty of them.
Walking into Roots, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a bar scene with lots of big TVs and a 30 foot, or so, bar for whatever they have on tap. They also have an outside patio and open windows help make this place more spacious while maintaining an inviting feel. It was even a comfortable locale to bring a large group for some conversation.
Coffee, for Starters
Since I was with a group of people, and wanted to kick things off for the day, I started my appetite with their house brewed coffee. It just seemed right. Especially when it was 80+ degrees and sunny. Nothing like Chicago during the late spring.
To make things even better, there was a cool breeze sweeping across our booth. It did feel more like a time for mimosas or kir royales, but those aren’t really Paleo.
So out came the coffee. It was steaming and the aroma was pleasant. What they served me was the Mozaic International Dark Roast (not to be confused with Mozaic Coffee Company from PA) processed through the regular old drip method. After my first sip, I thought about ordering some grain alcohol or something because this tasted like a cup of Starbucks coffee that’s been sitting too long. A sharp dark roast with virtually no body and a tannin heavy finish.
Correction: the taste was actually more like burnt rye toast.
I tend to be a bit meticulous about coffee. The bean, the roast, the preparation and the container all play a role in what I prefer. And with local, Chicago-based companies around like Intelligentsia, Metropolis, Tugboat, Bow Truss, Conscious Cup and Dark Matter to name a few, it’s truly a shame more Chicago restaurants don’t carry the good stuff available in their own backyard.
So, back to the taste profile of this coffee. To me the coffee tasted more like liquid charcoal briquettes rather than coffee. End of story.
Back to the Food
I didn’t want to spoil my coffee experience with how their food would fair, so I just set the coffee aside and cleaned my palate with some water. I hoped that the food would be better. And it was.
I ordered their Caprese Salad with BACON (topped with their in-house basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked pepper). Aaaaaand a side of bacon!!! Italian-inspired and American-made. The duality of this dish left me a tiny bit perplexed. I had to question whether this was a meal or an appetizer. The size alone tells me it should be an entree, but it was a Caprese salad! So, is it a side-salad or a meat & cheese dish? Truthfully it didn’t matter because the plate was ridiculously balanced.
The cheese slices were generous, the bacon bits where close to bite sized, and the tomatoes were hefty. The mozzarella was that perfect amount of rubbery with creamy flavor that brought out some of the acidity in the olive oil and also balanced out the vinegar. From its size to its ingredients, this plate would be awesome for anyone looking to have it as their dinner, or as a starter for someone with an enormous appetite. So much so, that the thought of getting a second helping was weighing mighty heavy in my head, but I had other foods to taste.
At this point, room was in short supply in my abdominal region, but what I ordered next was something I could never pass up. I am a sucker for Sweet Potato Tots and theirs are served with a Sweet Chipotle sauce and splashed with some salt. That’s it. It may be simple, but they can be very complex in flavor.
Note: the tots were deep fried in the same oil that’s used for all of their deep frying so if you are gluten sensitive, or strict Paleo you may want to steer clear of this one. For everyone else, you are in for a treat. I mean, this is exactly that. A treat.
I was wondering whether this should be sweet or savory. The sweet and spicy sauce coupled with the sweet and salty from the tots provided me with a light caramel flavor and crunchy texture that couples very nicely with that warming sensation you get from the chipotle pepper‘s heat. The best thing about this dish was that you get so many individual treats on a single plate!
Just grab a bite-sized morsel, dip it into the sauce, and BOOM, sweet and savory delicious-ness. It really does leave you with that constant yearning for another bite, and then another, and then another. This is, quite frankly, the best sweet potato tot combination I have ever had and I didn’t care how much room my stomach had. I was on the verge of being gluttonous.
Greens for Dessert? Yes, Please
So how do you finish a meal (or mountain of food) that consisted of an appetizer the size of an entree and a side dish that felt like an endless supply of bites? With veggies and butter of course. This Paleo friendly restaurant serves a side of Broccoli with Garlic Butter and that was my final dish.
This side dish is sure to make you wonder why we don’t do this at home more often. It’s seriously so simple and so tasty. It is one of those perfect combos of nature. Salt, fat, light char, garlicky and earthy. This was my dessert and I may have accidentally taken some of that buttery goodness to-go on my shirt. Although my gastronomy adventure stopped here, I can’t forget to mention that their restaurant upstairs is Homestead, a farm-to-table. Stay tuned for that culinary adventure.
I know many of you may have been excited to hear about a pizza place that is also Paleo, and this one is not that exception. They don’t make meatza here (boo), but they do offer a gluten free crust. Just keep in mind that the dough is loaded with cornstarch. Hopefully if enough people ask for meatza they’ll carry one on the menu! Until then, stick with all of the other options.
Roots Handmade Pizza is a wonderful local bar/restaurant that is willing to cater to many tastes. Their food selection required minimal adjustments and had a nice flavor profile to them. The amount of food you get makes this place a value, especially if you do a family style event with a larger group. If you’re in town, catch a game and tasty sweet potato tots from this Paleo friendly restaurant.
Paleo Friendly Restaurant: Roots Handmade Pizza (Chicago)
Restaurant: Roots Handmade Pizza
Location: 1924 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60622
Restaurant Rating: 3 out of 5
Paleo Rating: 2 out of 5
Paleo Restaurant Rating Scale
Restaurant Rating: How good is it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best I’ve ever had), how good is the restaurant, no matter if it’s paleo or not.
Paleo Rating: On a scale of 1-5 (5 being paleo perfection), how paleo is it? A 5 will have grass fed and pasture raised meats, local, organic produce and no peanut oil in sight.