Continuing our investigation into some of the best places to eat in the States, today we turn our attention to Chicago. It’s a city famous for pizza – The Chicago style deep dish being just one of the many variations on this classic and widely loved food. Many locals have preferences for certain restaurants based on what kinds of crust they offer, and everyone has their own take on the traditional Chicago deep dish style. Here’s our guide to the city’s best:
First opened in 1974 and boasting authentic Italian founders and ancestry, Giordano’s has consistently been lauded as one of the best, if not THE best pizza place in Chicago. Specializing in serving monster sized deep dish, thick crust pizza, this is a great place to try out the traditional Chicago style of pizza. The toppings on the deep dishes here are stuffed inside the pizza and generously lavished with tomato sauce and cheese. While the deep dish stuffed pizza pie is what Giordano’s is famous for, they do also offer thin crust pizzas, and have a good selection of toppings that should satisfy the most ardent carnivore or vegetarian.
Another Chicago pizza institution, Pequod’s opened in 1970, and has found a place in the heats of all Chicago pizza lovers ever since. Famous initially for it’s caramelized crust, the deep dish is a specialty here and has won consistent praise and acclaim. Thinner crust pizzas are also on the menu, and just as well loved as the Pequod traditional Chicago style pizzas. We all know that carbs are good for you and Pequod’s pizza with a salad to match is a meal you definitely won’t have to feel guilty about!
While Pequod’s and Giordano’s certainly have some history, none go as far back as Lou Malnati’s. Lou himself was working in pizzerias during the 1940s, and took all his experience with him when he opened the first Malnati’s restaurant in 1971. Although founder Lou has since passed on, the business is run by his two sons Marc and Rick. Malnati’s prides itself on making every pizza from scratch, and swear by the water from Lake Michigan that goes into their dough, which is famous for its unique buttery, flaky crust. While the set menu seems smaller that other pizzerias in the city, don’t let that fool you – Lou’s is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, and most authentic deep dish pizzas in the city.
While the Chicago style deep dish is often the focus of the majority of Chicago’s pizza restaurants, there are some establishments that prefer to refine the art of the thin crust, and Reno is one such pizza restaurant. Boasting a wood fired oven and a delicious range of interesting and unique toppings, such as the ‘hog’, topped with pork belly carnitas, cotija and salsa verde. Other interesting and taste bud tingling toppings include jalapeno pesto, smoked chicken and fennel sausage. Trying Reno out is certainly recommended if you love thinner crust pizza or want to try some interesting new flavors.
Another thin crust specialist, Coalfire blasts all of it’s pizzas in a traditional coal fired oven, hence the name. Cooked at 800 degrees, the crust is the real star at Coalfire, and they know it – keeping toppings simple and traditional with a less is more approach. In fact, a simple margherita topped with freshly topped basil is likely to satisfy in itself, but for meat lovers there is also traditional prosciutto , Italian fennel sausage, calabrese salami and pepperoni on offer. Coalfire also offers up some fantastic coal fired calzone, or folded pizza, for those wanting to sample something a little different. Either way, you can’t really go wrong whatever your taste with the eloquent simplicity and great flavors rounded off by a fantastically crisp but foldablecrust.