Not-So-Typical Pizza

RPM Date Night!

RPM Date Night!

I recently checked another item off my Chicago bucket list and dined at Bill (my not-so-secret crush) Rancic’s RPM Italian. The food was incredible and they were more than accommodating when it came to my soy-free restrictions. The only disappointment of the evening came when I heard Bill & Guiliana had been in several times throughout the NHL playoffs and I had just missed them. Darn it. 

Since our visit, friends have asked if RPM lives up to its hype. ABSOLUTELY. For me, eating out is about the food. RPM’s food was to die for. We ordered wood-roasted octopus, morel mushrooms served on hand-cut tagliatelle, short-rib pappardelle, a wood-oven pizza special, and dessert (of course). Needless to say, I left stuffed! Over the next few days, I found myself daydreaming about how full of taste each dish was. Not one item we tried could be described as bland or average.

I decided to try my hand at recreating something with such profound and original taste. Let’s be honest, I’m not cooking octopus and I cannot afford fresh morel mushrooms. I’ve tried short-ribs before and they were a complete failure; I almost lost a tooth. So, pizza it was! I couldn’t tell you what cheese or toppings RPM used. My version is not meant to replicate theirs (I would insult them terribly), but rather to experiment with new flavors. Here it goes…



Fresh whole-wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s offers a soy-free version. If gluten free – Better Bread Company offers a fresh option)

Pesto (Trader Joe’s now carries a soy-free pesto!)

Trader Joe’s freshly shaved parmesan, romano, & asiago cheese (If you’re lactose intolerant and can use Lactaid pills, I suggest this option. If not, a less flavorful rice cheese will suffice)



Fresh arugula

Fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Oyster mushrooms (Best from a farmers market- sometimes they offer mushroom medleys which will also work)

Crushed red pepper



Follow the directions specific to your crust for rolling & baking. Regardless of the crust, I always sprinkle my stone with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

Once the crust is rolled out, paste it with a layer of pesto. Evenly distribute your cheese.

Wash & dry your greens. Tear the basil and arugula into smaller pieces. Layer them on top of the cheese.

Halve your tomatoes and layer them on with the mushrooms.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake.

Pre-baked pizza

Pre-baked pizza

Baked pizza

Baked pizza



Favorite Chicago Restaurants

Eating out can be very difficult when it comes to managing soy allergies. Most restaurants cook with a blend of vegetable oil. More often than not, they contain soy. You’re best bet is to find restaurants that do not use a blend.

Authentic Mexican restaurants typically use corn oil. Their flour tortillas are often made from water and flour. My favorite Mexican restaurant in Chicago is El Tapatio, located on the corner of Ashland and Roscoe in Lakeview. It’s safe to eat, the staff is extremely friendly, and you can’t beat their margaritas! I suggest checking it out!

Authentic Italian restaurants are also typically a safe bet. Most of them use pure extra virgin olive oil. Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar at State and Ontario has always been very accommodating. I love their bolognese sauce!

Chop houses also tend to be very accommodating, and the chefs always seem to know what to look for. Keefer’s at State and Dearborn is a great one! Not only are they extremely helpful and knowledgeable, our server asked me to name a few appetizers and entrees I was interested in, and checked on each of them!

I always suggest calling ahead and asking them to check their cooking oil. It’s not uncommon that restaurants have the misconception that “soy” refers solely to soy sauce. Don’t be afraid to be specific!

Protein Bar Plug!

On my first date with Brett (boyfriend), I had the dreaded conversation with the server. As it turned out, the restaurant had NOTHING soy-free and only cooked with vegetable oil (always contains soy). I was embarrassingly limited to a cup of fruit. I’m sure Brett thought I was a freak (or an under-eater).

Instead of running for the hills, he texted me promptly Monday morning asking for my email address. Five minutes later, my inbox dinged with an email labeled “Protein Bar” containing only a link. I dismissed it thinking it was literally a bar of protein, something comparable to a granola bar. I later found myself in an awkward position when he asked me on a second date to Protein Bar (yes, a location, not granola). Oops.

When I was first diagnosed with my allergy, I thought for sure fast-food was off the table. Protein Bar is the exception! They are cognizant of all allergies, and incredibly accommodating. I had a burrito (quinoa) and chocolate shake (whey protein, cocoa, and almond milk) on that date! Their food is incredibly healthy and delicious! Try it.

They currently only have locations in D.C. and Chicago. However, they’re spreading rapidly. I suggest writing letters petitioning them to open a location in your city.

Here’s the link:

And, credit goes to… Brett!