Deep dish pizza is as accurately named as any food I know. Even if you've never experienced one in person, you already know to expect something imposing and thick, with generous layers of sauce and cheese. But which pizzeria in Chicago serves the best? I tried 13 different places to find out.
'Deep Dish' on Serious Eats
It's finally time to figure out who serves the best deep dish pizza. We're not the least bit interested in debating the merits of the style, or whether you even think it deserves to be called pizza. All we want to know is where we should go to find the ultimate version of this iconic dish.
Emmett's, a three-month-old South Village tavern, has everything a local pub could need. There's a cozy room, a surprisingly good wine and beer list, and tastefully eclectic decor that skirts TGI Friday's kitsch. It has two problems: food that is not very good and a long queue of prospective diners who think that it is.
I'm not here to provoke an argument or debate the merits of whether deep dish even deserves to be categorized as pizza. I'm just trying to deal with a Chicago winter that has brought two polar vortexes and over five feet of snow.
Turns out that Jon Stewart hates deep dish pizza more than any human being alive today. On last night's Daily Show, he ranted for nearly three minutes about Chicago's most recognizable dish.
Like all great cities should, Chicago has a collection of dishes that were invented within its borders and that you can't get anywhere else. I decided to create this list to help keep track of them all.
Union Pizza Company's The Village deep dish pizza is loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, smoked ham, sautéed mushrooms, thick sauce, and a pound of cheese. Owner Bruce Markoe pays special attention to the meats, with a technique that ensures his pie stays crisp and light. Well, as light at a five pound pool of pizza can hope to be.,,
While the Neapolitan pizza scene in D.C. has been booming of late, there's little in the way of options if you're in the mood for a deep dish pie. There are a few standouts, if you're not desperate enough to slum it at Uno's, including District of Pi.
For nearly 50 years spent at four different pizzerias, Burt Katz has been putting out some of the best pizza in Chicago. Since 1989, he's been putting out pies that have made Burt's Place a local favorite and must-try for visiting pizza freaks.
I could spend weeks putting together a list of Chicago pizzerias that I could describe with the phrase, "I'd be happy eating there regularly." But a much shorter list is one of pizzas that are truly crave-worthy; pies that make my mouth water whenever I think of them. Pequod's is one of those places.
[Photograph: Reddit] Someone on Reddit made a spaghetti-and-meatball deep dish pizza. I don't know what's come over me, but I really want a slice of this thing. Funny, too, because when you scroll through the pics from the original poster, you'll see s/he used DKM's Chicago-Style Deep Dish recipe from pizzamaking.com. I'm going to have to hunt for a good meatball recipe and try this myself. See also: Deep Dish Pizza à la Cook's Illustrated »...
If you know anyone who thinks deep dish pizza is not delicious, a simple trip to Lou Malnati's is all you need to show them the error of their ways. Malnati's well-balanced mountains of flavor are simply outstanding.
Zachary's Pizza is an East Bay icon, specializing in stuffed pizza. The pan starts with a layer of dough, followed by a hefty layer of mozzarella and toppings. Another thin layer of dough is added on top of the cheese and goodies before the robust sauce covers it all. While the cheese is hearty and the sauce is rich, I found the crust at Zachary's to be a bit disappointing.
Little Star is known as the best place to get Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in San Francisco. The lines are notoriously long, and I was determined to find out if the pizza was worth the wait.
[Photographs: Adam Kuban] I've had the January/February 2010 issue of Cook's Illustrated sitting in my to-do stack of crap since it came out. In it, a recipe for deep dish pizza. (You can find that recipe here, though it's behind a paywall. Sorry! Oh, or try this website, which has it: http://thirtyaweek.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/deep-dish-pizza-recipe) With some free time last Saturday, I set about making the stuff. Above is one of my finished pies (the recipe makes two 9-inch-round pizzas). Since all the junk is in the proverbial trunk, i.e., you can't see nothin' but sauce, I'll tell you that this one...
During last week's poll, we had a number of folks point out that the query may as well have been a proxy vote on NYC-style vs. deep dish. (Though we respectfully disagree, because "not deep dish" does not automatically equal "NYC-style" — think of all the other non–deep dish, non–NYC styles out there.) Anyway, there seemed to be some sentiment for a poll to take on the question of how often Chicagoans eat deep dish. So: How often do order deep dish vs. thin crust? »
When our man Ed Levine wrote in his 2005 book Pizza: A Slice of Heaven that he thought of deep dish more as a casserole, he earned the ire of Chicagoans and almost needed a police escort when he appeared on a radio show in the Windy City to promote the book. But we've come a long way in terms of pizza appreciation since then. So, where do you stand? Deep dish: pizza or casserole? »
Here at Slice, we're looking for the best pizzas everywhere. This week, we've got recommendations for slices and pies in the Chicago area. Don't worry, the rest of Illinois is coming soon! Here's my guide to the city's best.
It brings me no joy to write this review. I, like many New Yorkers, have fond memories of Big Nick's, the venerable Upper West Side dive. Truth be told, I haven't been in there in about 20 years, but I warmly recall eating hearty portions for not very much money whilst stuffed into Big Nick's tight booths, surrounded by a thousand handwritten signs, with the banter of the colorful cast of characters who work and eat there providing much merriment. When I discovered that they serve a Chicago-style pie I decided to make a journey back to the UWS to check it out.