FROM DEEP-DISH TO THIN-CRUST, HERE ARE THE BEST PIZZAS IN THE WINDY CITY
Chicago may be known as the Second City, and many folks might think that it’s America’s second-best pizza city, after New York. But if you visit Chicago and eat your way through its thriving and abundant pizza scene, you’ll discover that there’s some truly astonishing pizza to be found there, from deep-dish to thin-crust and everything in-between.
Read More: Guide to Regional Pizza Styles
While deep-dish pizza may be the most famous Chicago-style pizza, there’s actually another, lesser-known version that’s just as popular among the locals: thin-crust. Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza has a high-edged, buttery crust that encircles lots of gooey, melty cheese, chunky tomato sauce, and ample toppings. Chicago Thin-Crust Pizza, also called “tavern-style” pizza, has a cracker-crisp crust that still holds its own against ample toppings, and it’s traditionally cut into squares instead of slices.
Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago
Pequod’s Pizza was founded by the late, great Burt Katz in 1970, and their pan pizza is legendary for its ring of mozzarella cheese that surrounds the crust, deeply caramelizing as it cooks along the side of the cast iron pizza pan, forming a cheesy, chewy, almost-burnt halo. The fresh-made dough bakes up thick and chewy with a crispy, almost fried bottom, and the toppings are generously applied.
A true Chicago icon, Lou Malnati’s was founded in 1971; Lou had begun making deep-dish with his father Rudy in the 1940s, and today Lou’s son Marc runs its 35+ locations. To make these pizzas, buttery dough is spread onto the bottom of a round pan; it’s then topped with:
- Ample slices of mozzarella
- Chunky tomato sauce
- A wide variety of toppings
- Most famously, sausage
My Pi Pizza
My Pi Pizza was founded in 1971 by fourth-generation baker Larry Aaronson, and today it’s owned by his son Rich. One bite of this deep-dish and you’ll see that baker’s touch: the triple-proofed crust has a wonderfully fresh yeast taste and a crispness that magically remains tender to the bite. The sauce is fresh and chunky, the cheese comes from Wisconsin, and more than 30 toppings are available.
Gino’s legendary deep dish pizzas hit the scene in 1966, thanks to two pizza-loving taxi drivers. Tired of getting hungry during rush hour, Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli opened the first Gino’s East in the heart of Chicago. They hired Alice Mae Redmond, a chef who (legend has it) helped the city’s first deep dish pizza, and she crafted Gino’s now-legendary pizza, with its thick, golden crust, super-stretchy mozzarella, chunky tomato sauce, and a sausage patty that covers the whole pie.
Best Chicago Thin Crust Pizza
A South Side must-visit founded by brothers Christopher and Dominic Bartolini in 1995, Bartolini’s turns out picture-perfect versions of both deep-dish and thin-crust pizza. The deep-dish is thick, rich, cheesy, and available with a wide variety of toppings. Their thin-crust pizza has a light, crisp crust that’s perfectly complemented by tangy pizza sauce and whole milk mozzarella. Almost as legendary as Bartolini’s pizza? Their beef & pork meatballs in red gravy!
Rich Labriola grew up making pizzas at his father’s Calumet Park pizzeria, and he spent years studying the fine art of breadmaking before opening his first bakery in 1993. So it goes without saying that he knows his way around a pizza, and at Labriola, he’s turning out pitch-perfect renditions of both deep-dish and thin-crust pizza. His deep-dish pies start with a focaccia-style dough that’s double-proofed before being layered with mozzarella and ample toppings. The square-cut thin-crust pies have a crisp crust, an herbaceous sauce, and plenty of browned cheese.
Candlelite Chicago Pizza
Candlelite has been home to Chicago’s most famous thin-crust pizza since it opened in the Rogers Park neighborhood in 1950. A low-key, family-friendly tavern, it’s serving pizza that hasn’t changed since day one: It starts with a simple, crispy crust, which is topped with a homemade tomato sauce and a layer of mozzarella and romano cheeses. Along with the usual toppings, they’re also serving up BBQ chicken and Buffalo chicken pizzas.
These may be some of the best pizzerias in Chicago, but there’s a whole country of incredible pizzas to explore! Discover all of the best pizzas from LA to Detroit to New York – and have them delivered to your door – here.