Holy cholesterol! Rosati’s launching chili cheese dog pizza
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org June 7, 2012 4:48PM
The Chili Cheese Dog Pizza at Rosati's in Carpentersville, Ill., on Thursday, June 7, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
So what’s it taste like?
So how is the new chili cheese dog pizza?
Well, if you were afraid it might sit in your belly like a rabbit does after being eaten by a big snake, you’d be wrong.
It’s a more subtle pie than that, with the ingredients hitting your tongue in a way that gradually reveals it is what it says it is. That’s to say, you take a bite, it seems like pizza. Wait for it. Oh yeah, there’s some diced tomato and onion pieces. Wait. Oh there it is, that chili seasoning. And hot dog. But not really hot dog, but spicy sausage.
With the ingredients as such, the pie seemed — for a lack of a better word — wetter than a typical pizza.
To counter that moistness, they have been making the crust a little crisper, said Rosati’s director of operations, Joe Fiore.
As for the Zotti Dog, it’s like some cousin of a calzone, a giant pig in a blanket, and as big as a baby burrito common to these parts. The ingredients seemed to separate upon cutting the concoction open, making it more of a knife-and-fork dish than a sandwich of some spicy sort.
Taking half of it home to have later for dinner, bachelor style, was a good idea. In other words, it wasn’t half bad cold, which popped the jalapeno and cheddar flavors in the dog.
And despite what you might expect, no antacid of any sort was needed during or after the writing of this piece on pizza.
— Mike Danahey
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:12AM
CARPENTERSVILLE — In the far northwest suburbs alone, you can find new kinds of pizzas topped with such relatively healthy ingredients as Kalamata olives, artichokes, asparagus, poached pears and even arugula tossed in raspberry vinaigrette.
But the Chicago area is known more for its broad shoulders, and even bigger bellies. So it should come as no surprise that somebody would come up with a pizza that would put the culinary universe — if not cholesterol levels — in balance.
That somebody would be the folks at the local Rosati’s chain of franchises who have teamed with Vienna Beef to create a chili cheese dog pizza.
The thin crust pie will be unrolled in the Chicago market, then to its restaurants in six other states beginning in July to coincide with National Hot Dog Month.
Jim Locaciato, Vienna Beef’s sales director for Midwest key accounts, said the project involving the two well-established Chicago-area companies has been under way for about 18 months.
“We’ve been working getting the formulation just right,” said Joe Fiore, Rosati’s director of operations.
To that end, Fiore and Locaciato were busy Tuesday afternoon fine-tuning the creation at the Carpentersville Rosati’s, 125 S. Western Ave. (Route 25). The spot recently began serving the chili cheese dog pizza to customers and has been serving as the test kitchen during the creation process.
The location has doughy lore of its own.
It first was Village Pizza, which closed its longtime location in the fall of 2009 after operating there for 31 years. (Village Pizza eventually reopened a new spot on a lot next to its old parlor, in late 2010.)
In March 2010, Lee’s Pizza Lodge opened in what was Village, but turned off its oven once and for all the following August. Sharon Rodriguez and her husband Jaime opened the site as a Rosati’s in December.
Rodriguez said the couple’s restaurant is close to Rosati’s corporate offices along Randall Road at Interstate 90, “So when they want to try out new things, they come here.”
The new pizza is made with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, onions, diced tomatoes, chili mix and oval slices of what Fiore said was “a smoked spicy sausage” — which is to say, not your typical Vienna Beef dog you’d have at the ballpark.
According to a press release about the dish, a Chicago dog-style pizza was under consideration, but it wouldn’t cook just right — in large part because of the relish.
Either way, a 16-inch chili cheese dog pizza has about a half-pound of sausage on it.
“We worked a lot to get the weights (of all the ingredients) just right, let me tell you,” Locaciato said.
At least one customer there for the lunch buffet that day liked the new pizza.
“The flavor’s unique,” said Jim Silva of Carpentersville. “It’s good, and definitely creative. I’m not a big hot dog fan, but I’d have it again.”
And if the pizza weren’t enough, accompanying it on the menu will be something called a Zotti Dog — the same sausage as on the pizza, slathered in the same ingredients, then wrapped in pizza dough, oven baked, brushed with garlic butter, then served with a side of either pizza sauce or cheese.