National Deep Dish Pizza Day (April 5) brings a beloved comfort food center stage during a time where consumers are finding some solace in their favorite dishes. While the current global situation is a far cry from business as usual, the purpose of this article is to not only support businesses partaking in food delivery but also to give a glance into the foods and flavors that consumers are seeking comfort in during the COVID-19 crisis.
Certain foods are impossible to talk about without mentioning where they’ve originated, like Boston baked beans and Buffalo wings, and none may be more difficult than Chicago deep-dish pizza. When it comes to deep dish, there’s much more to it than location and depth. There are three distinct styles of deep dish: classic with a thick crust topped with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese on the bottom and a ton of chunky tomato sauce on top; stuffed with layers of ingredients sandwiched between a crust on top and bottom; and pan with a crispier option of blackened cheese and crust on top. Even though it’s hard to imagine deep dish outside of Chicago, there are plenty of amazing places all over the country serving classic and reimagined versions of a “Chicago pie.” Celebrate National Deep-Dish Pizza Day by reading all about the best places serving this Windy City staple in all its delicious variations!
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Pizzeria Uno, Chicago
Of course the first stop of the cross-country deep-dish tour needs to start in its birthplace: Chicago! Pizzeria Uno’s founder, Ike Sewell, is often credited, and much debated, with making the first deep-dish pizza in 1943 and paving the way for it to become Chicago’s signature dish. While serving both thin and deep-dish crusts, the pizzeria stays true to its roots by highlighting their Chicago Classic pie featuring the original style of crispy short dough crust, cheese on the bottom, and crushed tomato filling with a sprinkle of parmesan on top.
Continuing with Chicago deep dish institutions, Giordano’s is the place to go for the tallest stuffed crust pies in the city. The staple menu item comes from Mama Giordano’s original Italian Easter Pie, featuring the deep-dish format, but with more emphasis on the inside with thick layers of Italian meat, ricotta, and mozzarella as opposed to just the thin layer of cheese on the bottom. Straying from tradition is the Bacon BBQ Chicken pie stuffed with barbeque-basted chicken, balsamic onions, and even more barbecue sauce replacing the tomatoes, making for a tangy, deliciously different take on deep dish.
Pequod’s Pizza, Chicago
Finally, declaring itself as having the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago and further fueling the great deep-dish debate, Pequod’s Pizza specializes in the third type of deep dish: pan pizza. What sets this style apart is the pizza is baked and served in a heavy cast iron pan where the cheese and sauce caramelize, blacken, and appear to give the top a “lacy” edge. With no “specialty” pie options, visitors choose toppings, but the real attraction comes from the caramelized crust that gives this pizza a stronger, more robust flavor that appeals to consumers interested in rustic, perfectly imperfect experiences.
One of the most celebrated Chicago-style deep dish pizzerias in New York was started by a, no surprise, native Chicagoan, Emmett Burke in 2013. Daring to bring deep-dish pizza to the epicenter of people with extremely strong opinions on pizza, Emmett established his spot as the only place to find delicious, truly authentic deep-dish pizza in the city with toppings that fit in with the New York aesthetic, including fennel sausage, sopressata salami, and hot giardiniera. Emmett's specialty pies keep the toppings lean and classic, like sausage, peppers, and onions or the vegetarian-friendly This Buds for You with spinach, white onion, and mushroom, without taking away from the layer of crushed tomatoes that separates deep dish from a dollar slice.
Although deep-dish is usually categorized by the sauce on top, Frankie’s Chicago Style Pizza in Minnesota offers classic Chicago pies alongside selections that turn the concept on its head to appeal to its Midwestern clientele, including the Gouda Mac and Cheese Pizza with Frankie’s smoked gouda cheese sauce over cavatappi pasta on homemade dough and topped with a three cheese blend and toasted potato chips.
Vito’s Pizza, Glendale, AZ
If you’re looking for Chicago-style deep dish, look no further than … Arizona. While being home to many well-known pizza chains originating in Chicago including Giordano’s, Vito’s Pizza fits in right with the competition, especially with the authentic and classically dressed Vito's Special Pizza House Specialty with homemade Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions on three different size crust options.
Pi Pizzeria, Missouri and Washington, DC
For self-proclaimed “irrationally delicious deep dish” with a signature cornmeal crust, Pi Pizzeria delivers on unique deep-dish pizzas far from Chicago. While purists can still find classic Italian flavors, Pi also offers more gourmet options, including the Central West End with mozzarella, prosciutto, goat cheese, tomato, red onion, and arugula and Cubano with slow-cooked pork shoulder, country ham, kosher pickle, swiss, yellow mustard, flat-leaf parsley, and flake salt.
Why make one kind of deep-dish pizza when you can specialize in all three, especially if you’re a 12-time world pizza champion? At Capo’s, owned by master pizza maker Tony Gemignani, visitors have the choice to have their pizza crusts as deep, stuffed, or cracker thin, topped with a ton of toppings, like the “Big Jim” Colosimo’s Triple Double with (buckle up) tomato sauce, mozzarella, provolone, garlic, pepperoni, Chicago Italian sausage, house honey Calabrese sausage, ricotta, meatball, mushrooms, red onions, roasted peppers, and bacon for the most daring and hungry deep-dish pizza lover.