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 overhearing one saying “fuggetaboutit.”
They’re likely having a mostly peaceful discussion about who has the best pizza in Chicago. 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.
Remember to check out our top 5 pizza places in Los Angeles. LA may not have that old-world history of pizza, but with some of the best chefs in the country serving up their take on pizza pies, you’re still in a foodie’s paradise when it comes to the best place for pizza around.
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 in the lower level of a beautiful, Victorian mansion. Hey, Chicago has a lot of mouths to feed.
These legendary deep dish pizzas are made opposite of a traditional pie, with the 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 pepperoni as the most popular choices.
In fact, so many foodie aficionados rave about the thin crust Pizzaria Uno/Due bake into these 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,” stating “Burt’s was the only deep dish pizza I ever loved.”
That’s some serious 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-makers have 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 for top 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 favorable toppings. Some call this the burnt-cheese crust. You feelin’ the magic?
This place is super popular and they make no bones about the wait, so come when you know you’re going to be hungry. Speaking of which, because folks come for the crust, it would be rare to find a plateful full of bones at this joint.
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, and with a touch of clover honey added to the pistachio pesto, you’re enjoying 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 best pizza places in Chicago, especially for deep dish.
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.
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 cheese and the beginning of crust.
Mutz – Mozzarella.
Lip – Edge of the pizza, also called corniccione.
Avalanche – 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.