Residents and visitors of the Second City know a second slice of pizza is never a bad thing. In fact, the ambiences of the best Chicago pizza places often keep you around for more than two. What’s unusual about the Chicago pizza world is that most people don’t prefer thin crust or deep dish over the other. Why? Because Chicago has wonderful options for each.
If you’ve never tried Chicago style pizza, this list is for you. It caters to the folks who want to indulge themselves in art made with cheese, sauce and meats. If you’ve made your rounds as a Chicago pizza lover, take a look at this list and see if you agree with our standings of the best Chicago deep dish and thin crust pizza.
- Lou Malnati’s
Many folks think Lou Malnati’s pizza is the original Chicago deep dish because of its current popularity. Although Pizzeria Uno holds that crown, Lou’s makes it a heated rivalry, and the pies can’t be beat. Rudy Malnati was a worker in the Pizzeria Uno’s kitchen. The legend says that he took the original deep dish recipe, played with it and perfected the taste. The reason Lou’s tops our list is because it offers a greater reach to Chicago-land residents in the suburbs. You don’t have to live in the heart of Chicago to grab The Lou pizza or the Malnati Chicago Classic.Also, keep in mind that Lou Malnati’s can be enjoyed if you take the Second City Classic Tour.
- Pizzeria Uno
Lou Malnati’s reigns supreme in terms of taste and accessibility. But that doesn’t leave the original creators of Chicago deep dish far behind. Although the deep dish pie was far from an overnight success, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo worked hard by distributing free samples of the pizza style until it caught on. The restaurant began in 1943, and the deep dish idea combined Riccardo’s Italian, Neapolitan-style pizza with Sewell’s idea that people in the 1940s wanted something affordable, yet substantial enough for a meal.
Poor Giordano’s seems to constantly get shadowed by the previous two Chicago pizza joints. That said, Giordano’s is a heavyweight contender known for insanely cheesy stuffed deep dish with options like BBQ Bacon Chicken, spinach, chicken sausage and the Chicago Classic of pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. The thin crust pizza tastes delicious too, as Giordano’s sticks to a super thin, hand-stretched crust that snaps and flakes in your mouth. The first Giordano’s opened in 1974, and the numerous locations reek of simmering meats and cheeses.
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Some people only go to Pequod’s when they want a slice of Chicago pizza. Others aren’t so sure. The caramelized deep dish crust is certainly something you have to try. You may fall in complete love with it, or you may just be happy you tested a Chicago favorite. Regardless, the Chicago location sits right across the street from a movie theater, making it an ideal before or after-show meal. The restaurant has a grittier dive bar feel to it. And the pizza: Imagine crisp, browned edges holding in the gooiest cheese on the planet.
Pizano’s resides in a city where deep dish is generally considered king. Not so fast though, because Pizano’s takes thin crust Chicago pizza to a whole new level. We’re not saying it’s better than any New York Style pizza we’ve had, but…okay yeah we’re saying that.
All four Pizano’s restaurants (from Madison Street in the Loop to Lincoln Avenue) present a stereotypical pizza parlor atmosphere. For some reason you don’t see the checkered table clothes, greasy floors and old wooden chairs like you used to. Complement that with killer Hawaiian and cheese pizza and you have a Chicago pizza landmark.
6. Piece Pizzeria & Brewery
Piece Pizzeria has come along with the hipster crowds in and around Wicker Park. The restaurant is by far the most happening option on this list, with a huge dining area, various local beers on tap and that rugged, almost warehouse feeling you get when you visit a microbrewery. Not to mention, the triangular-cut thin crust offers the best crust in the city, along with creative recipes like New Haven Style (No mozzarella) and the Hot Doug’s Atomic Sausage Pizza.
You can enjoy a bite at Piece Pizzeria by taking the 3-1 Chew Tour by Chicago Food Planet.
7. Coal Fire
Coal Fire Pizza has two locations, both of which offer modern settings with darkened lighting and middle school-style chairs (you’ll know them when you see them). This rising star boasts daring and unusual pizza options like whipped ricotta, vodka meatball and honey and salami. Coal Fire is a thin crust gold mine for those who want something besides the regular sausage or pepperoni.
Bonus: Chicago Pizza & Over Grinder
You won’t find regular Chicago deep dish or thin crust at Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder. However, the restaurant has plenty of great food, including the famous pizza pot pie, which is more like a calzone filled with a special sauce, garlic, cheeses, tomatoes and mushrooms, then wrapped in Sicilian dough.
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Have you had a chance to dine at these fine Chicago pizza restaurants? If so, let us know in the comments which are your favorites.