The "Deep" History of Chicago Pizza
Visitors to the Windy City will discover that there is no single “standard” Chicago-style deep dish pizza - each restaurant has their own take on Chicago’s signature dish that (usually) consists of a deep, crunchy crust and cheese topped with sauce instead of the other way around. One pizzeria’s claim to fame might be a tangy sauce, with others it’s the cheese, please, or a rich buttery crust made with cornmeal, butter or olive oil.
No matter where you order it, when it arrives with its bubbling Italian cheese bathed in delectable sauce, with sausage or other ingredients sandwiched into a rich buttery crust, your taste buds will be heading for Pizza Heaven. (Just don’t be in too much of a hurry when ordering: deep dish pizza takes considerably longer to prepare than its thinner cousins, but once you dig in, all will be forgiven). Below is a handy guide to the best of the zest:
Gino’s East – As one of the oldest (1966) pizzerias in the city, Gino’s East boasts fresh tomatoes and other choice ingredients snuggled in a mouthwatering golden crust. You can find Gino’s locations around the city and beyond – still making their pizza the same fresh and delicious way to the delight of their many fans.
Giordano’s – This is another popular Italian restaurant chain, with locations well into the far west suburbs as well as several other states. Giordano’s has been proudly serving their signature deep dish pizza that’s rich with cheese and a delectable sauce since 1974 – try it with your favorite meats or veggies.
Lou Malnati’s – With multiple locations throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, you’re never far from some of the best pizza in the area, both deep dish and thin crust. (Bonus points: If you don’t live near a Lou’s, never fear - they will ship pizza to you!) Their famous recipe was said to have been created by the mid- 1950’s by Adolpho (“Rudy”) Malnati, a chef at Pizzeria Uno, who eventually went on to start his own restaurant chain headed by sons Lou and Rudy, Jr. The crust is actually so buttery-rich that it’s been trademarked Buttercrust™ and nicely holds its own with multiple toppings.
Pizzeria Uno – Considered the grand-daddy of Chicago-style pizza, the venerable Pizzeria Uno opened in 1943, and has been creating some of the city’s best-known deep dish pizza ever since. Big chunks of tomatoes vie with rich gooey cheese contained within a deep buttery crust – luckily for its large and loyal customer base, Uno’s has locations all across the country.
Pequod’s –With two locations top serve its loyal customers (its original Morton Grove location opened back in 1970, with a second location added in Lincoln Park in 1992). Pequod’s began by offering its “caramelized crust” version of deep dish pizza with one of the freshest sauces you’re likely to taste.
The above list is by no means exhaustive – almost every neighborhood has their favorite bar with pizza or family pizzeria. Part of the fun is discovering which little ‘out-of-the-way’ establishment just happens to produce mouthwatering concoctions to rival the better-known brands. With so many pizza choices you’ll feel like you have to close your eyes and just point. Whichever you choose, it will be delicious.