With such a rich history of Chicago pizzerias, we’d be remiss not to mention Pizzaria Uno, where the deep dish pie all began, making this one of our top pizza places in Chicago.
According to Chicago’s official cultural historian Tim Samuelson, back in 1943, a kindly gentleman named Ike Sewell pulled out that deep pan and filled it with quality, yummy ingredients from Italy. The deep-dish pizza was officially invented.
If you find yourself in a dark, smoky pub on Chicago’s south side, don’t be surprised to see a corner booth filled with mobster-looking gents and overhear one saying, “fuggetaboutit.”
They’re likely having a mostly peaceful discussion about who has the best pizza in Chicago downtown. If bullets start flying, then yes, they’re definitely debating Chicago pizza.
Of course, New Yorkers would scoff at this debate since they are adamant that their New York-style pizza is tops. Let’s just say the takeaway here is that there’s lots of yummy pizza to go around.
Top Pizza Places in Chicago
Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due
– 29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611
Without further ado, let’s bite into the cheesy goodness of Pizzaria Uno, and Pazzaria Due, who proudly proclaims that they did indeed invent the deep dish pizza.
With Piizaria Uno having a space too small to expand, owner Ike Sewell crossed the street and opened Pizzeria Due on the lower level of a beautiful, Victorian mansion. Hey, Chicago has a lot of mouths to feed.
These legendary deep dish pizzas are made the opposite of a traditional pie, with the crispy cheese going in first on top of a thin crust, comparable to making apple pie.
Next comes all those Italian ingredients we crave, topped off with tomato sauce and baked to perfection.
This deep dish pizza has a buttery, crispy biscuit-like crust filled with thick slices of sausage and lots of pepperonis as the most popular choices.
In fact, so many foodie aficionados rave about the crispy thin crust Pizzaria Uno/Due baked into these haven-style pies; it’s no wonder this is at the top of the list for tourists when visiting Chicago. If they’re British, we can call these tourists grockles. Right back ‘atcha Brits!
Burt’s Place –
8541 N. Ferris, Morton Grove, IL
Burt’s Place is another iconic deep-dish pizzeria, critically acclaimed by Anthony Bourdain on his TV show “No Reservations,” stated, “Burt’s was the only deep dish pizza I ever loved.”
That’s some severe accolades coming from such a legend, especially since Burt Katz would have told you he wasn’t a chef. “I get along with pizza; we’ve become friends.” Sounds simple enough.
But still, the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes, and Burt’s true colors shine from the caramelized crust. Charred and crispy, this is what sends taste buds into a frenzy. No doubt Burt’s Pizza has suffered many Reggie Alerts in its day.
A rebel with a cause, Burt called his pies “pan pizza,” making sure he differentiated from the classic deep dish style. Just an FYI, There are tons of choices for microbrewery beers at Burt’s Place, so you’ll get that great “pizza joint” atmosphere here.
What can we say about a man who went to Japan in 1962, bought an original Toyota truck, then drove through several countries, including Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan? Burt’s pizzas were an honest, hand-crafted reflection of the humble pioneer Burt will always be remembered as.
Pequod’s Pizza –
2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Pequod’s is another popular restaurant serving up pan-style pizza with a caramelized crust that has made our list of top Chicago pizza places in Chicago.
So what’s so magical about caramelized? Imagine mozzarella cheese cooked along the edge of a cast-iron pan, dripping its cheesy sweetness along the edges of a thin, crunchy crust, accented by a savory tomato sauce and filled with creative toppings. Some call this the burnt-cheese crust. Are you feelin’ the magic?
This place is super popular, and they make no bones about the wait, so come when you know you’ll be hungry. Speaking of which, it would be rare to find a plateful full of bones at this joint because folks come for the crust.
The Italian sausage pan pizza was rated one of the top 5 pizzas in America on Foodnetwork, so you know you’re in for a great meal with cold brews at Pequod’s.
1321 W. Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
3707 N. Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
As the name implies, Coalfire uses a clean-burning coal oven that heats up to around 1,500 degrees, forging a thin crust, slightly charred pizza.
Coalfire hits all the high notes when checking off boxes for a perfect thin-crust pizza. Impressive leopard spots where the crust has been lightly charred, keeping just enough distance from the saucy coastline.
The pistachio pesto pizza is a house fave made up of pistachio pesto, mozzarella, crumbled Berkshire sausage, stracciatella (creamy cheese produced from Italian buffalo milk), and clover honey.
We already know how the sweetness of burnt mozzarella enhances the crust of deep-dish pizzas. With a touch of clover honey added to the pistachio pesto, you enjoy orchestrated perfection with this tasty thin-crust pizza.
With the Michelin Guide calling Coalfire one of the top pizza places in Chicago, you know they’ve been properly vetted – you and your pizza are all good to go!
Lou Malnati’s Pizza –
1120 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610
Diving back into the deep dish scene, Lou Malnati’s pizza rounds the Chicago pizza best places, especially for deep dishes.
As we know, deep dish pizza has a long-standing tradition in Chicago, and Lou’s celebrating 50 years of concocting great pizzas day in and day out.
When talking deep dish, the crust always has to pass the pizza snob test. Described as flaky, with a perfect buttery crunch, we’re already halfway there on describing the perfect deep dish pizza.
Lining the bottom of the pan with ample Mutz and piling on ingredients like vine-ripened plum tomatoes from California and Wisconsin cheese, we’ve just crossed the finish line to pizza heaven.
These guys are sticklers for details, and it reflects in every pizza they create. According to their website,
“The tomato sauce is so crucial to the making of a great Lou Malnati’s pizza that each year a team from Malnati’s goes to California and meets personally with the tomato growers.”
No doubt they fly out to meet in the winter when Chicago’s buried in snow and Californians are tanning on the beach. But we don’t judge. We’re just glad for this attention to detail that presents us with such a culinary delight we can sink our teeth into.
1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Experience a slice of Naples in Chicago at Spacca Napoli, where classic Neapolitan-style pizza is made passionately and authentically.
Located in the Ravenswood neighborhood, Spacca Napoli is a true pizza lover’s paradise. The restaurant has been serving up authentic Neapolitan-style pizza for over a decade, and it’s easy to see why it has become a staple among Chicago pizza enthusiasts.
At Spacca Napoli, every Neapolitan pizza is made with the utmost care and attention to detail. Owner Jon Goldsmith is a certified pizzaiolo who takes great pride in using only the finest ingredients, including San Marzano tomatoes, Caputo flour, and fresh mozzarella.
The menu at Spacca Napoli features a variety of pizzas, including the classic Margherita, Bufalaina, Funghi, Puttanesca, Salsiccia, Capricciosa, Diavola, and Filetti pizza with garlic truffle cream, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. The pizzas are all perfectly cooked, with the perfect balance of chewy crust, tangy tomato sauce, and creamy cheese.
In addition to their pizzas, Spacca Napoli also offers a selection of antipasti, salads, and desserts. What sets Spacca Napoli apart from other pizza places in Chicago is its commitment to authenticity and tradition.
The restaurant truly feels like a slice of Naples in the heart of Chicago, with its warm and inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, and incredible pizza. Whether you’re a Chicago local or just passing through, Spacca Napoli is a must-visit for anyone who loves good food and great pizza.
2451 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Indulge in mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas at Paulie Gee’s, a pizza cafe place that has captured the hearts of foodies all over Chicago.
Paulie Gee’s is a pizza lover’s paradise located in the vibrant Logan Square neighborhood. The restaurant is known for its creative and delicious wood-fired pizzas, all made with the freshest ingredients and cooked to perfection.
Owner Paul Giannone, who has been making pizzas for over 30 years, is a master of his craft. He takes great pride in using only the best ingredients, including San Marzano tomatoes, high-quality mozzarella, and artisanal meats and cheeses. Each pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven at 900 degrees, producing a perfectly crispy crust and bubbling cheese.
The restaurant’s Sicilian new haven-style pies are a feast for the senses and a winner of the esteemed U.S. Pizza Cup. Topped with a perfect blend of sharp white cheddar, mozzarella, Ezzo pepperoni cups, housemade bacon jam, red sauce, ricotta, basil, and Mike’s Hot Honey no surprise why it took home the prize.
However, there are more delicious options on the menu. With various unique combinations and a robust selection of vegan options, the restaurant has something for everyone to enjoy.
102 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60609
For a classic Chicago pizza experience, look no further than Phil’s, a beloved Bridgeport establishment known for its tavern-style pizza. With no-frills decor and counter service, Phil’s may not be flashy, but it’s certainly charming.
Generations of families have made Phil’s a pre-White Sox game tradition, and it’s not hard to see why. Phil’s has some of the best in the game regarding pizza toppings.
The crispy crust serves as the foundation for a flavor explosion, especially when topped with the restaurant’s signature spicy house-made fennel sausage.
The Italian beef and giardiniera pizza is a must-try for those looking to try a Chicago combination. These bold flavors come together in perfect harmony, creating a pizza that’s both satisfying and unique. With each bite, it’s clear why Phil’s has earned its place as a go-to pizza spot for generations of Chicagoans.
And with a thick layer of gooey mozzarella cheese on every pie, the contrast between the crispy crust and melty cheese is nothing short of perfection.
But Phil’s isn’t just a spot for a pre-game bite. Late-night diners will be thrilled to know that Phil’s is open until midnight on weekdays and 1:30 a.m. on weekends.
This makes it the perfect destination for a post-game pizza craving. And if you’re really looking to indulge, don’t miss the opportunity to add a side of fries to your order. After all, nothing pairs better with pizza than fries, right?
So, whether you’re a lifelong Chicagoan or just passing through, ensure to add Phil’s to your pizza bucket list. With its unbeatable combination of crispy crusts, melty cheese, and delicious toppings, it’s no wonder this Bridgeport institution has been a fan favorite for generations.
Nella Pizza e Pasta
1125 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615
Nella Pizza e Pasta’s dedication to authenticity sets it apart from other pizzerias. The owners, Nella and Frank Grassano are from Naples and take pride in sharing their culture through their food. The menu includes PIZZA CAPRESE, PIZZA MARECHIARO, PIZZA BURRITO, NELLA D.O.P., CAVANI, and more.
The ingredients are fresh and high-quality, including San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. But it’s not just about the pizza – the restaurant also offers delicious homemade pasta dishes, such as lasagna with a rich meat sauce. And for dessert, the Nutella pizza is a must-try. With its cozy atmosphere and friendly staff, Nella Pizza e Pasta is the perfect spot for a casual date or a night out with friends.
With Chicago having such a rich history in pizza innovation, it’s no wonder Chicago has such an abundance of famous pizzerias with great stories behind them. Reminds us of another foodie paradise, New Orleans, which can be a memorable experience if you go during Mardi Gras.
Pizza making is an art form, and our top 5 pizza places in Chicago have all mastered their craft. These places up the cheesy ante, taking us from what was once a snack to nibble on to a full-course meal – all served up inside a pan.
Pizza Terms We Love
Reggie Alerts – An influx of tourist types who have lots of questions about “how the menu works.”
Bones – Those are the leftover pieces of crust that are discarded on a plate.
Leopard spotting – The small bubbles along the rim of a pizza puff up that are burned black, commonly found when baked in wood-fired ovens.
Coastline – Exposed sauce between the end of the cheese and the beginning of the crust.
Mutz – Mozzarella.
Lip – Edge of the pizza, also called corniccione.
Avalanche – This happens when taking a slice of ultra-thin crust pizza out of the box and all the toppings slide right off of the crust.
Grockles – An informal and often slightly derogatory term for a sun-burned, schlocky tourist, most likely to be overheard in a British pub. Yep, that would be us.