Literally my last meal out before I drove out east was at a long time staple of the River North scene that for some reason had always evaded me. Perhaps that's my fault for always seeking out the new without spending as much time on the staples. Either way I was thrilled to try it out before leaving and having friends Kate and Jon show me the way with one of their neighborhood favs. The other awesome aspect of going with friends that know the place is that I could sit back and relax while they did the ordering. And they chose well.
We started with a grilled artichoke, that had some delicious seasonings and dipping sauces. Artichokes have always been a standard feature of any summer dinner growing up. My mother loves to make them simply steamed so any comparison to childhood memories are hard to make but La Madia does a nice job - a good way to wet the palette. The main course was pizza. All kinds of pizza that I didn't choose, but ate too much of. I don't remember the specifics or which one I like most because they were all delicious. I think one was a pepperoni and truffle oil, one had goat cheese and bacon and I know the last one was tasty with hot peppers. They come out fresh and hot, super thin cust authentic style and ready to go. Even though they have a solid take-out business, these are not pizza's I can see doing too well away from the over and transport over long distances. Even by the end of our meal I noticed that they cool off fast, and the thin crust can lose its firmness with the tasty oils and cheese doing their work. So just eat good and fast! We finished off the night, after over eating pizza, with a surprisingly amazing little dish of chocolate polenta cake. Never would have thought of that but it tastes great. Must try. Aside from having a very good pizza oven and a nice wine selection - I think the most understated aspect of La Madia that makes it successful is the ability to truly make it an every night, neighborhood restaurant. It's family friendly, inviting, broad options of other Italian items on the menu, and affordable - easily a place you could call home, or come by yourself, etc. Not sure how I made it living in Chicago without ever trying La Madia, but better late than never, and now I know where to go for good thin crust pizza when I visit!