Our Story

The Creation of Spacca Napoli

Spacca Napoli came out of Jonathan Goldsmith’s profound love for Italy, a cherished place that he, partner Ginny Sykes and daughter Sarah have considered a second home for many years.

One could say the dream was always there, waiting for the right moment to be born.

From Florence to the Gargano to Naples, creating the pizzeria came naturally, bringing together Jon’s passions for cooking and hospitality and melding them with his appreciation of all things Italian. The plan began to take shape on a flight to Italy in July 2004, following a casual suggestion to Jon from a fellow traveller who was from Naples that he ought to open a pizzeria in Chicago. On that trip, Jon began to talk about the pizzeria idea to his many Italian friends in Rodi Garganico (Rodiani). He was encouraged to go west for “true” pizza, to Naples — said to be the birthplace of pizza. As that summer drew to a close, Jon was determined to bring the essence of the Italian markets, the street life, and the abundance of Italy right back to Chicago.

Within months of his return home, Jon began the first of many travels to Naples. There he was warmly and lovingly received by Italians who understood his desire to master the art of this simple yet profound food. (If you read Italian, see Ciro Leone’s ode to “A Pizza.”) There he studied and became certified as a “Pizzaiuolo”, or pizza maker.

Masters at their craft, the pizzaioli at Di Matteo show their skill and love of the art of pizza making. Filmed on location by Jonathan in Naples, Italy.

Two and a half years later, Spacca Napoli opened on February 14, 2006 — Valentine’s Day — to impressive reviews and delighted patrons.

Spacca Napoli has been lauded for its authenticity (see “press“). “La tua pizza me ha fato piangere” (your pizza has made me cry) can be said to sum up some of the sentiment that has been heard and written. It is the intention that everything at Spacca Napoli be faithful to tradition, from the high quality of the food to the way it is served. The oven was built by third- and fourth-generation artisans from Napoli. The dough mixer also comes from Italy.

But just as important, for all who work or eat at Spacca Napoli, there is a delicious, comforting feeling of warmth and family that is part of the atmosphere and charm. The decor is reminiscent of classic Italian pizzerias, yet is contemporary and filled with light. Spacca Napoli strives to be a neighborhood place but it is also a destination for anyone who wants to taste genuine Neapolitan style pizza.

At its heart Spacca Napoli is in essence Jonathan’s way of giving back some of what he has been given and passing on his appreciation for all those who have shown him the ‘vera’ cooking that is the heart of Italy.

Please, come and enjoy.

Toto, drawing by Cessna DiCossimo

Toto, drawing by Cessna DiCossimo