LOGAN SQUARE — A crew of chefs and workers from acclaimed Logan Square restaurant Giant is opening a more casual eatery next door — a takeout pizza spot serving “Giant-style” pies.
Pizza Matta opens Friday at 3211 W. Armitage Ave., the former home Sweet Shot Cookies.
The pizza restaurant will have limited weekend hours the first few weeks so the staff can get acclimated, co-owner Jason Vincent said. From there, Pizza Matta will be open seven nights a week for takeout and delivery only, Vincent said.
Pizza Matta is a collaboration between Vincent and Josh Perlman, Giant’s owners, and Giant employees Mike Gaia, Daniel Jeffrey, Patrick Ruffalo and Nia Jones.
Gaia, Giant’s chef de cuisine, is the driving force behind the restaurant, Vincent said.
Gaia came up with his own pizza recipe at the height of the pandemic and brought his “thick and bready” pies to Giant to help the restaurant stay afloat during the shutdown, Vincent said.
Gaia’s pies were a big hit among Giant patrons, a lifeline even, Vincent said.
“I’m not overstating it, those pizzas got us through the pandemic … along with a lot of other stuff. But the pizzas were a huge help as far as helping people stay on their health insurance,” Vincent said.
Vincent promised Gaia he’d help him open a pizza restaurant if the concept worked: “And it did, so I did,” he said.
Unlike Gaia’s original recipe, which leaned Detroit-style, pizza at the new restaurant is it’s own thing — it’s not easily summed up as Chicago-, Detroit- or New York-style, Vincent said.
Pizza Matta will be centered around a new recipe: 14-inch pies made up of “floppy,” triangular slices kids like to eat, he said.
“This is Giant-style pizza,” Vincent said. “We just took a bunch of techniques that we appreciate, tinkered around with the dough and we got it to a point where we like it. The same with the sauce — I wouldn’t call it a traditional sauce. We put garlic in our sauce, which isn’t typical.”
Rounding out the menu are large salads made with farm ingredients like Werp Farms lettuce and Prairie Fruits Farm goat cheese, homemade Superman ice cream for dessert and soda from local brand Filberts. The restaurant will also sell pantry items such as honey and hot sauce from Charleston-based Red Clay Hot Sauce and Donostia anchovies.
Vincent and his crew named the restaurant Pizza Matta after Italian pizza dough called pasta matta. Vincent said they were planning to open a pasta-focused restaurant and name it Pasta Matta, but the pizza concept was first to materialize. The pasta restaurant is still in the works, he said.
Vincent and Perlman rented the storefront next to Giant in the winter after Sweet Shot Cookies moved out, “almost as a defensive measure” amid the pandemic, Vincent said.
Pizza Matta is the latest offering from Vincent and Perlman, who also own Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar in Bucktown.
“We think that we’re being pretty thoughtful about where we get our [ingredients] and people will know it’s high-quality,” Vincent said of the new restaurant. “We’re definitely not reinventing any wheels, but we’re going to make pretty good pizza.”
For opening details, follow Pizza Matta on Instagram.
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