The Great National Pizza Divide

Sid Branca

I started writing a “Chicago Things To Do While In Chicago” post, which was, of course, going to include “eat some deep dish pizza.”

I’ve lived in Chicago since 2005, essentially my entire adult life, and I have in many ways become a proud Chicagoan. There are a few aspects of my personality, however, in which my New York upbringing will never truly leave me. One of these is the Great American Pizza Divide of NY Style vs. Deep Dish. But while I’m personally not a fan of deep dish—or rather, think of it as something that isn’t bad, but something that is different from what pizza is—I do think each person should decide for themselves. So I turned to my social network and asked for some recommendations, and people had so many opinions that it seemed worthy of its own post. Click “read more” below (if you’re reading on the main page) to see what my friends had to say about where to get deep dish in Chicago.

There were several votes for Lou Malnati’s:

“The best pizza in Chicago. That is a fact. They do have a restaurant in the south loop.” “The Lou. Vegetarian. F***ing brilliant.” “LOU MAL’S.” “LOU MALNATI’S.”

There was also a lot of discussion of Gino’s:

“South Loop deep dish-wise, there’s a Gino’s East down there somewhere. I agree that Lou Mal’s wins, but Gino’s is pretty good and decently priced for what you get, so I dunno what the marginal benefit to schlepping further would be.” “We love Gino’s. Great craft beers, great pizza.”

If you’re up for venturing north, there were a lot of strong recommendations for Art of Pizza near Ashland & Belmont:

“AoP is king. The best.” “The only deep dish I had in eight years that made me think the whole idea might be workable.” “I don’t like deep dish, but the Art of Pizza is the only place I’ve gone to have deep dish more than once.”

There were some recommendations of Pequod’s:

“A little different but you learn to love it.” “The crust is caramelized”(!).

And then also some heated debate:

“Sid, I am with you on the pizza argument. NY wins. Lou, Gio, Gino’s are all garbage. But if you want to see what deep dish can be, look up Burt’s place. It’s three stops out on the NW metra line in Morton’s Grove.” “Pequod’s is Burt’s original restaurant and has a very similar pizza, but in the city.” “He left Pequod’s because it had lost its quality. I’ve had both. Pequod’s doesn’t have sh*t on Burt’s.” [Note: I have not been, and have no idea! Also, Burt’s was closed briefly in 2013 because Burt underwent surgery, but reopened back in November.]

There were also recommendations made about Edwardo’s, Pizano’s (with spinach & garlic), and Pizzeria Due (“the festival of cheese over butter crust and luscious pesto” that is the 4 Cheese Pesto).

Columbia faculty member Melissa Potter (who also used to live in the Tri-State area), made a comment that I thought was really apt: “I think it’s a matter of just getting used to the fact that Chi pizza is typical American ethnographic heritage. A rather odd, strangely lovable variation on an original.”

I have made myself so, so hungry writing this post.

(PS: if you’re stubborn like me and looking for New York style pizza while in Chicago, I’d recommend Piece in Wicker Park. If you want a place with garlic knots, which are largely unheard of in the Midwest, try Pauly’s.)

The Great National Pizza Divide

I started writing a “Chicago Things To Do While In Chicago” post, which was, of course, going to include “eat some deep dish pizza.” I’ve lived in Chicago since 2005, …

MFA Candidate, Interdisciplinary Arts & Media Sid Branca,
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605