There are few Chicago foods as dramatic—and iconic—as the deep-dish pizza, and while there are pizza joints all across the city, a few stand out above the rest. A real Chicago-style pizza is brought out in a cast iron pan, sliced at the table, and lifted onto your plate with a picture-worthy cheese pull, often eaten with a knife and fork to catch every last bit.
It can be overwhelming to pick just one to try. From the original version to totally decadent innovations like stuffed crust or spinach or three-cheese, here are the best places to try a deep-dish pizza in Chicago.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill
First opened in 1943, Pizzeria Uno was Chicago’s first deep-dish restaurant. There are now plenty of Uno's restaurants across the country, but there are only two places to taste the original deep-dish in Chicago, and both locations are in the River North neighborhood a block away from each other. Uno serves deep-dish in the classic style—thin but sturdy crust, mozzarella, toppings, and tomato sauce on top of it all—but they also offer unique interpretations such as a pizza topped with chicken tenders or stuffed with Italian beef, another Chicago specialty.
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
Lou Malnati worked at Pizzeria Uno before opening his eponymous restaurant in 1971. The Lincolnwood spot soon boomed into a franchise with more than 50 locations, most of which are scattered all around the Chicagoland area. Lou Malnati’s prides itself on specially sourced California vine-ripened tomatoes and Wisconsin mozzarella. For the authentic deep-dish experience, order the Chicago Classic, which comes with extra cheese, sausage, and the restaurant’s signature buttercrust. If you’re in a rush, ask the restaurant to put your pizza in the oven while you wait for your table to cut down on your wait time.
The Boglio brothers brought a unique spin to deep-dish pizza in 1974 when they opened the first Giordano’s pizzeria on the South Side. Their claim to fame is the stuffed pizza, which is based on their mother’s Easter pizza pie. The bottom crust is filled with cheese and toppings before another layer of dough is added on top, creating a literal pizza pie. Tomato sauce and parmesan cheese are added on top of this upper layer to complete the famed stuffed pizza. Giordano’s pizza has a mild, flaky crust that’s high in gluten, Californian tomatoes, and Wisconsin mozzarella. Giordano's also has a pre-order option so your pizza is done faster and your wait time is less at the restaurant.
If you’re in the mood for some deep-dish pizza, but not for a long wait, Ricobene’s is the place for you. The shop sells pizza by the slice with over-the-top topping combos such as spinach lasagna with ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, and spinach, but whole pies are also available. And while the pizza is good, this no-frills establishment is even more famous for its breaded steak sandwich, which comes slathered in sauce and cheese in both regular and king sizes.
Gino’s East has been making deep-dish pizza since 1966, and the Streeterville shop quickly became a favorite among locals. Gino’s uses a top-secret dough recipe that makes an extra golden, extra flaky crust. While there are locations dotted around the city, visit the original Superior Street restaurant where you can sign your name on the wall. You can also head to the LaSalle Street location for a craft beer specially brewed by Gino’s Brewing Company to pair perfectly with your pizza. After your meal, catch a show at The Comedy Bar on the Superior Street building’s third floor.
Connie’s opened in the Bridgeport neighborhood in 1963 and has been serving pizzas ever since. The restaurant sells four types of pizza: thin crust, pan, deep-dish, and stuffed. The owner of Connie’s feels that the most important part of a pizza is its crust, so the restaurant makes sure that the dough is perfect before assembling. Regardless of which pizza you order, it comes with pureed San Marzano tomatoes, aged Wisconsin mozzarella, and the toppings of your choice. You can even order a pie online—Connie’s will ship a pizza (made fresh, then frozen) anywhere within the United States for delivery within 48 hours of ordering.
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.
The Chicago Pizza and Oven Ginder Co. takes fork-and-knife pizza to an entirely new level. The restaurant is famous for its pizza pot pie, an original creation that started in 1972. Your pizza is served inside of a bread bowl made from Sicilian-style triple-raised pizza crust, almost as if it were a soup. Inside the freshly made bowl, you can savor a delicious stew of whole plum tomatoes, a melted blend of cheeses, spicy sausage, button mushrooms, and other standard pizza toppings. The pizza pot pie is available to order as a half-pound individual serving or a full pound to share, and you can even buy them frozen to warm up and enjoy from home.
Mi Pi Pizza
The owners of Mi Pi Pizza have generations of experience in bread baking, and that background is apparent in the taste and texture of their pizza crust. The dough is made fresh each day and triple baked for a tender crispness that withstands all of the saucy wetness. Mi Pi also sources all of its ingredients from the U.S., including Wisconsin cheese and San Marzano tomatoes grown in California (which are even sweeter and more delicious than the ones grown in Italy, according to Mi Pi). If you aren't in the Chicago area and want to try an authentic Mi Pi pan pizza, they also ship frozen pizzas across the entire U.S.
Bacino's of Lincoln Park
While it's easy to make any pizza vegetarian, most Chicago-style pizza restaurants specialize in pies filled with sausage, pepperoni, or some other type of meat, but not Bacino's. Their signature pizza is the Spinach Supreme Stuffed Pizza, a deep-dish pie that the restaurant advertises as "heart-healthy" and that's filled with spinach, skim mozzarella, and mushrooms. Other vegetarian pizzas are stuffed with veggies like bell peppers and broccoli. Meat options are also available, so carnivorous diners can also order a pie stuffed with Italian sausage without any issues.
The Art of Pizza
Every Chicagoan has their personal favorite pizza place, but The Art of Pizza can boast that a majority of Chicago Tribune readers voted its deep-dish pizza as the best in the city. Thin crust options are available, but their deep-dish pizzas—either pan or stuffed—are what The Art of Pizza is famous for. The stuffed pizza is so hearty on its own that it's best to order it with just cheese or spinach, since the meat can unnecessarily weight it down and make it soppy. You can also order pizza by the slice here, in case your craving some quality pizza but don't have the stomach to inhale a whole pie.
Louisa's Pizza and Pasta
Located just south of the city in the suburb of Crestwood, Louisa's has been one of the best traditional Chicago-style pizzerias in the area since it opened in 1981. The crust is known for being especially light, fluffy, and buttery all at once, with an acidic tomato sauce that has a subtle kick. The sausage pizza is one of Louisa's most popular, and the sausage is sauteed with fennel and herbs to give it that traditional Italian flavor. Frozen pizzas are available to bring home with you, and a little dry ice is worth it to travel a long distance and enjoy again later.
If you visit Pequod's on a weekend, you'll likely have to wait your turn in line with the many others who also want a Pequod's pizza. The tomato sauce is particularly acidic for a sharp flavor with every bite, mellowed out by the gooey cheese interior. However, it's the cheese on the bottom of the pie that carmelizes and gets crunchy that any local would tell you is what sets a Pequod's pizza apart from the rest. If you can, visit on a weekday at lunchtime. Not only are the lines shorter, but you can also take advantage of their personal pizza lunch special for an extra satisfying midday pickup.