Though Chicago is synonymous with deep dish when it comes to pizza—and for good reason—that isn't the only style you can find throughout the city. In addition to thick slices of butter crust filled with cheese, assorted meats and vegetables, and topped with sauce, there's also pan pizzas with crispy cheese edges and thin, coal-fired crusts with a nice char from 800-degree ovens. Assemble a group of friends and hit up all of these classic Chicago pizza joints the next time you're craving a pie.
What Our Inspectors Say: Value, friendly service, and delicious deep-dish pizza make Giordano’s a crowd sweetheart. With locations dotting the city and suburbs, this restaurant has been gratifying locals with comforting Chicago-style Italian-American fare for years. Come during the week—service picks up especially at dinner—to avoid the cacophony. The menu includes your typical salads and pastas, but you'd do well to save room for the real star: the deep-dish. Bring backup because this pie could feed a small country. The spinach version arrives on a buttery pastry crust, filled with sautéed (or steamed) spinach with tomato sauce, and topped with mozzarella and parmesan. For those cold, windy nights, opt for delivery—their website sketches a detailed menu.
What Our Inspectors Say: Sure, you could come for a salad, but the focus here is on pizza—and yours should be, too. The cozy room features an open kitchen where pie production is on display for all to see. And in a playful bit of recycling, empty tomato sauce cans on each table become stands for sizzling pizzas churned straight from the 800-degree coal oven. This hot spot has its ratio down to a fine art and knows not to burden its thin, crispy crust that’s blackened and blistered in all the right places. The mortadella is a delight, with chopped garlic and gossamer slices of peppercorn-flecked sausage. Care to go your own way? Build the perfect pie with toppings that run the gamut from Gorgonzola to goat cheese. A second location in Lakeview continues to thrive.
What Our Inspectors Say: Ditch your diet, grab your fellow Blackhawks fans, and head to this Lincoln Park stalwart for some of the best pies in town. Christened for Captain Ahab's sailing ship, Pequod's menu promises smooth sailing for sports bar noshers, featuring a lineup of shareable bar snacks such as wings and mozzarella sticks, hearty sandwiches like tender Italian beef, and both thin-crust and deep-dish pan pizzas. Grab that cutlery before digging into the buttery crust of each deep-dish pie, ringed with blackened cheese at the edges. Toppings like pepperoni, fresh garlic, and crunchy sautéed onions are generously layered between tart tomato sauce and handfuls of cheese for an oozy jumble in every bite. A towering wedge of fudge cake awaits those with room for dessert.
What Our Inspectors Say: Pizza pilgrims continue to make the trek to the original location of this renowned local deep-dish chain, where a 45-minute wait is the norm. However, solo diners may rest easy as they can order personal pies from a walk-up counter. The walls, scribbled with years of graffiti, are nearly as iconic as the high-walled pies themselves, whose crusts get their signature crunch from cornmeal and searing-hot metal pans with two inch-high sides. Filled with heaps of mozzarella and toppings like the "Meaty Legend" lineup of spicy pepperoni, Italian sausage, and both Canadian and regular bacon before getting sauced, it's hard for some to eat more than two wedges here. Nonconformists can of course opt for thin-crust pies, gussied up by add-ons like roasted red peppers.
Hero image courtesy of Giordano's.