Pizzeria Antica is one of my favorite restaurants in C-U. The pizza is absolutely delicious. To celebrate and partake in Visit Champaign County’s Restaurant Week, a friend and I visited the Pizzeria Antica on Friday night, just after 6 p.m. As a relative newcomer to C-U, my friend had never been to Antica before, so I was excited to share one of my favorite places, and also have an opportunity to share some food.
The restaurant was about half full when we arrived, but in the few minutes between sitting and ordering, the dining room was full. We both ordered from the RW menu ($19 per person):
- Infused olive oils antipasti or small salad
- Pizza from the following list
- One scoop of gelato
We ordered the antipasti platter and the mixed greens salad. The antipasti platter is served with bread, olives, sweety drops, spicy autumn berry jam, and three infused oils (lemon-lime, garlic, and hot pepper). The oils were super tasty; I ended up drizzling them on my pizza, too. I really enjoyed the spicy autumn berry slathered on the bread (which was cooked pizza dough). It was great.
The mixed greens salad was simple (mixed greens, olives, sweety drops, artichoke hearts) and served with balsamic vinaigrette. I have no doubt that if I had put the salad together in my house, it wouldn’t have been as good. Even with simple, straightforward ingredients, salads taste better when someone else makes them. This tasty salad was no different.
For pizza, we ordered the cantalupo (San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, spicy Italian sausage, Calabrese peppers) and the bianca (fresh mozzarella, chevre, ricotta, pecorino). The cantalupo is a personal favorite; it’s meaty and spicy and all the things I want in a pizza. The bianca is another go-to; it’s cheesy and rich, but not overwhelmingly so. I really like the bianca because it feels like a treat, like an indulgence, but surprisingly isn’t too heavy.
The deliciousness of Antica’s pizza hinges on the dough. Certified Neapolitan style pizza (according to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, or AVPN) has to meet a pretty stringent set of criteria, and Antica does exactly that. The 00 flour used for the dough is very finely ground and it makes a tender yet chewy dough. The quick cook time in the hot wood-fired oven leaves charred blisters on the dough, adding to the richness and complex taste of the vehicle for your toppings.
Though we were quite full from our appetizers and pizzas, we were both looking forward to the dessert portion of our meal. Our server only named three flavors —pistachio and vanilla gelato, raspberry sorbet — so my friend and I both ordered the pistachio. Turns out, there are a good handful of flavors, but our server simply didn’t remember them all and didn’t go check. It’s not a huge deal, but it was annoying to walk past the case on the way out to see a bunch of other flavors I would have preferred. The pistachio was great: not too sweet, not too artificial in its flavor. There were even bits of pistachios in the gelato. It was just enough sweet at the end of the meal.
A single RW menu order could easily be shared with two people, though I am not embarrassed to say that my friend and I easily polished off our pizzas. For $19, it’s really quite the deal, as most of the pizzas are normally $16, the appetizers $6. Outside of the blip with the gelato, service was satisfactory. The restaurant was busy (it was a Friday night), but I imagine during the week it won’t be quite as crowded. It’s an easy place to bring the kids, too. The atmosphere is informal, there are some kids toys, and it’s pizza, after all. If you only have one place to check out this week, I highly recommend Pizzeria Antica.
Visit Champaign County’s Restaurant Week is January 25th through February 2nd.
10 E Chester St
M-Th 11 to 3 p.m. + 5 to 9 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Photos by Jessica Hammie