Brought out in a cast iron pan, sliced at the table and lifted onto your plate with a picture-worthy cheese pull, there are few Chicago foods as dramatic—and iconic—as the deep-dish pizza. And for those looking to try the best of the best in the city, there’s no shortage of spots that fit the bill. In fact, 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.
First opened in 1943, Pizzeria Uno was Chicago’s first deep-dish restaurant. There are now plenty of Unos restaurants across the country, but there are only two places to taste the original deep-dish in Chicago—both locations are in the River North neighborhood a block away from each other. Unos 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 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 if you want to cut down your wait time 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. But 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. 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, you can also catch a show at The Comedy Bar on the 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.