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Holy cholesterol! Rosati’s and Vienna Beef launching chili cheese dog pizza

The Chili Cheese Dog PizzRosati's Carpentersville Ill. Thursday June 7 2012. 

| Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Medi|

The Chili Cheese Dog Pizza at Rosati's in Carpentersville, Ill., on Thursday, June 7, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |

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So what’s it taste like, you ask?

So how is the new chili cheese dog pizza?

Well, if you were afraid it might sit in your belly like a rabbit does after being eaten by a big snake, you’d be wrong.

It’s a more subtle pie than that, with the ingredients hitting your tongue in a way that gradually reveal it is what it says it is. That’s to say, you take a bite, it seems like pizza. Wait for it. Oh yeah, there’s some diced tomato and onion pieces. Wait. Oh there it is, that chili seasoning. And hot dog. But not really hot dog, but spicy sausage.

With the ingredients as such, the pie seemed, for a lack of a better word, wetter than a typical pizza.

To counter that moistness, Rosati’s director of operations, Joe Fiore, said they have been making the crust a little crisper.

As for the Zotti Dog, it’s like some cousin of a calzone, a giant pig in a blanket, and as big as a baby burrito common to these parts. The ingredients seemed to separate upon cutting the concoction open, making it more of a knife and fork dish than a sandwich of some spicy sort.

Taking half of it home to have later for dinner, bachelor style, was a good idea. In other words, it wasn’t half bad cold, which popped the jalapeno and cheddar flavors in the dog.

And despite what you might expect, no antacid of any sort was during or after the writing of this piece on pizza.

— Mike Danahey

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Updated: July 9, 2012 6:16AM

In the far northwest suburbs alone, you can find new kinds of pizzas topped with such relatively healthy ingredients as kalamata olives, artichokes, asparagus, poached pears and even arugula tossed in raspberry vinaigrette.

But Chicago is known more for its broad shoulders — and even bigger bellies — so it should come as no surprise that somebody would come up with a pizza that would put the culinary universe — if not cholesterol levels — in balance.

That somebody would be the folks at the local Rosati’s chain of pizza places, who have teamed with Vienna Beef to create a chili cheese dog pizza. The thin crust pie will be unrolled in the Chicago market, then to its restaurants in six other states starting in July to coincide with National Hot Dog Month.

Vienna Beef’s Jim Locaciato said the project involving the two well-established Chicago-area companies has been underway for about 1-1/2 years.

“We’ve been working getting the formulation just right,” said Joe Fiore, Rosati’s director of operations.

To that end, Fiore and Locaciato were busy one afternoon this week fine-tuning the creation at the Carpentersville Rosati’s. The spot recently started serving the to customers and has been serving as the test kitchen during the creation process.

The new pizza is made with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, onions, diced tomatoes, chili mix and oval slices of what Fiore said was “a smoked spicy sausage,” which is to say, not your typical Vienna Beef dog you’d have at the ballpark.

The creators said a Chicago dog-style pizza was under consideration, but it wouldn’t cook just right, in large part because of the relish.

Either way, a 16-inch chili cheese dog pizza has about a half pound of sausage on it.

“We worked a lot to get the weights (of all the ingredients) just right, let me tell you,” Locaciato said.

At least one customer there for the lunch buffet liked the new pizza.

“The flavor’s unique. It’s good, and definitely creative. I’m not a big hot dog fan, but I’d have it again,” said Jim Silva of Carpentersville.

Accompanying the pizza on the menu will be something called a Zotti Dog — the same sausage as on the pizza, slathered in the same ingredients, then wrapped in pizza dough, oven baked, brushed with garlic butter, then served with a side of either pizza sauce or cheese.

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