October 26th, 2017 by

It’s enough to say that the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a contentious topic. Is it a pie or a casserole? Some critics dismiss the deep-dish entirely, saying it’s definitely “no pizza” compared to the New York-style thin crust. Fact is, as much as there are those who hate the deep-dish, some are in love with it. The only way to know whether the Chicago-style pizza is for you is to head down to the Windy City and taste it yourself. If you are traveling there, here’s a list of popular Chicago pizzerias you should visit.

One of the biggest Chicago pizza empires, Lou Malnati’s has been serving the renowned deep-dish pizza since 1971. This family-run pizzeria chain traces its roots to the origin of the deep-dish pizza, which Lou’s father, Rudy Malnati, invented at Pizzeria Uno. It now has 45 locations, with the original Lincolnwood restaurant still around. Its signature is a three-layer cheese pie consisting of rich mozzarella, Romano, and cheddar, and topped with spinach, mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes. There is also a garlic version of the restaurant’s famous Buttercrust, a slightly crunchy pizza with a hint of buttery flavor for just 75 cents extra.

A Chicago favorite since 1971, My Pi has established itself as a premier purveyor of deep-dish pizzas, thanks to its all-American recipe. It uses cheese from a farm in central Wisconsin and vine-ripened tomatoes from California. This restaurant’s delectable sauce is sweet, super chunky, and seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices. However, what makes its pizzas special is the crust. The chef raises the crust three times and does the last proofing in the oven. You can expect a tender, crispy bite.

The owner of Bartoli’s, Brian Tondryk, is the grandson of Fred Bartoli, the founder of the famous Gino’s East. This pizzeria’s pies pay homage to Gino East’s classic recipe. It features a lighter, thinner crust with a perfect cheese-to-dough ratio, as well as sweet, chunky sauce and chunks of fennel sausage. The sauce is a little sweet, as old-school ones often are in Chicago, but it works well with both neutral and flavorful ingredients. It’s also got slices to go if you don’t think you can pound down an entire pie yourself.

Tucked in a cozy basement space in Lincoln Park, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. is the place where pizza literally meets pie. Instead of the traditional deep dish or pan, the shop serves delicious pot pies. These pies are individual-sized servings of quality Sicilian dough topped with homemade sauce and a unique blend of tomatoes, mushrooms, and sausages. If you want to have a truly unique pizza experience, you must include this pizzeria in your itinerary.

Whether you like thin-crust or deep-dish pizza, there are lots of options available in Chicago. The above-mentioned pizzerias can get very busy during weekends, so it’s a good idea to check availability and make reservations before your visit.

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