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What is meant by New York pizza....and does it exist in Chicago as I recall it?

I read the year-old post about NY pizza in Chicago. The qualities ascribed were very thin crust, foldable, cut in pie slices.

My associations with the NY style -- ok, from a good few years back -- include those qualities plus a couple others: for one, extremely stringly mozzarella, the kind that you almost have to cut with a sissors. But more important, slices that were sometimes drip-on-your-shirt oily, as the pies often had olive oil poured over the top, maybe to accelerate cooking. (I especially recall this from a place in Norwalk, Conn.) The olive oil gave the pizza a quite distinct taste.

Does this resonate with any identifiable Chicago pizza?

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  1. My understanding is it's all in the crust. Chicago is famous for it deep dish (lou Malnatis, giordanos, art of pizza) and, for the most part, is what defines chicago style. chicago also has a huge thin following but it tends to be be really thin and flaky or crisp (pat's, d'agostinos, rosatis) and typically cut into squares. New york can be classified as more towards thin (not very thin) and more chewy. Those pies also tend to be cut into pie cut (triangular and equal sized). Good examples of new york style are Piece and Bubamara Pizza.

    11 Replies
    1. re: gnoju

      "Good examples of new york style are Piece and Bubamara Pizza."

      The pizza at Piece is an overt homage to the coal-fired stylings of Frank Pepe et al. in New Haven, CN. ['Cept they burn gas.] It is not at all a New York-style pie.

      With toppings like crab meat, corn, peaches, and cherry tomatoes, I believe that Bubamara, too, aspires to be something other than what the OP is after.

      For New York-style pizza, I would encourage the OP to try the following:

      Apart Pizza Company
      2205 W. Montrose
      773-588-1550

      http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?...

      Cafe Luigi
      2548 N. Clark
      773.404.0200

      Santullo's Eatery
      1943 W. North Ave.
      773.227.7960

      http://www.santullos.com

      Gigio's Pizzeria
      4643 N. Broadway
      773.271.2273

      E.M.

      1. re: gnoju

        "Chicago is famous for it deep dish (lou Malnatis, giordanos, art of pizza) and, for the most part, is what defines chicago style."

        There are two styles of Chicago pizza. Stuffed pizza (with a double crust) is turned out by Giordano's, Edwardo's, Carmen's, etc. "Deep dish" refers to the single-crust pizza from Lou Malnati's, Gino's East, Uno's. (And IMHO either one is way better than any thin crust pizza I've ever had, including New York's finest.)

        1. re: nsxtasy

          actually, there are 3 indigenous Chicago styles: deep dish, stuffed, and cracker crust

          ...often distinguished by a "short" pastry dough

          of course when people refer to Chicago pizza they nearly always mean deep dish

          elsewhere in this thread cracker crust(or, "thin crust") appears to be confused with NY-style...the two are quite different

          1. re: aelph

            I've lived here for many years and I've never heard of "cracker crust" Chicago-style pizza. (I'm not doubting that it exists, only noting that it's not very well known.)

            What's an example of a place that serves this style?

            1. re: nsxtasy

              There used to be pizza joint on Western Ave. just south of Howard called "Welcome Inn" that servrd the thin crispy "cracker" style crust.
              I'm not sure if they're still around though.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Check out LTHforum. There've been exhaustive rundowns of Chicago cracker crust.

                1. re: aelph

                  Thanks. A quick search there finds a link to an article by Sun-Times food critic Pat Bruno at http://www.centerstagechicago.com/oth... where he identifies five different styles of pizza in Chicago, none of which are "cracker crust", and his favorite place to get each: stuffed (Giordano's), Neopolitan (Spacca Napoli), deep dish (Uno's), New York (Cafe Luigi), and Italian bakery (D'Amato's). So one could count lots more than only three styles. ;

                  )

                  One of the topics on LTH mentions typical "cracker crust" places as Barnaby's and Vito & Nick's.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Well, if Pat Bruno sez it's so... ;)

                    'course, NY-style and "bakery" nee' Sicilian pizzas aren't Chicagoan

                    the triumvirate remains deep dish, stuffed, and quotations-implied...cracker crust

                    1. re: aelph

                      No need for quotions on cracker crust. I grew up/still live in Chicago proper and I knew what you were talking about. It's hard to describe. It's crunchy but pliable. Not really dense at all. I always think of Calo's pizza on the northside as cracker-ish, It's funny - growing up we never really got the whole Chicago stuffed pizza/deep dish. I mean, we ate it for sure but we normally ordered thin crust. When I went to school in Iowa, that's what I craved. A nice crispy crust with light cheese and mushrooms. Not the doughy thin crust style. Sometimes I think the whole "Chicago style" pizza is a more of tourist thing - like the superfans. It's a Chicago thing but it's not the only kind. But with pizza - to each their own.

                      1. re: lbs

                        ...and here I thought cracker crust was well known :)

                        I'm a NY-style person all the way(haven't found anything to satiate the craving in Chicago)...I've tried the alternative pizzerias, for sure...none reproduce it quite right. Funnily enough, Houston's where I developed my taste for NY-style; growing up there were a plethora of places that served it(and you'd never find square cut...this's pre-Domino's which...ick tho' it might be...is where I first encountered such a pizza in Ohio) such that when I eventually had the "real NYC deal" it wasn't quite the revelation I'd always imagined...they *used* to do it right in Houston(circa 70's/80's)...doesn't seem that way so much anymore(pizza-wise).

                        Anyway...

                        it's taken me the better part of a decade to develop the taste for Chicago deep dish(not so much the stuffed) and square cut thin crust

                        I can definitely say I prefer so n so over whomever now that I've lived with the style and tried the usual suspects time and again. It'll never be a favorite style. I really don't lke the pastry/butter crust...

                        ...tho' it can hit the spot once in a blue moon.

                        ...and I totally agree that it might be perceived as *somewhat*(try Giordano's downtown on a weekend!) of a tourist thing...

                        1. re: lbs

                          It may be a Chicago thing too, but the cracker crust is actually a huge deal in St. Louis. Most of the pizza parlors in St. Louis (Imo's and Cecil Whitaker's being the 2 largest producers) deal in cracker type crusts. My pizza ramblings in Chicago have only just begun these first 5 years here, but I still haven't found any good cracker crust pizzas in this place and that's what I grew up with back home. (That and a good baseball team, of course)

          2. Hello Skip,
            I too am a big fan of NY Pizza, I have search a lot of places in the city and the best that I have found is a place up north on Touhy called Eastern Stlye Pizza. Their number is 773.761.4070

            1. Gigio's in Evanston on Davis street (the nicer location)or the Gigio's in Uptown on Broadway are as close to NY style Pizza as you can get here. They sell the 'za by the slice or whole, great stuff!

              1. I don't know if Apart Pizza is *exactly* NY style, but it is freaking delicious. I cannot stand too much crust and too much cheese. Apart does it just right. Pizza Bubamara is excellent as well, and the owner is such a character. Last time I picked up a pizza he came around the corner and gave me a hug because he was so happy with the ingredients I had selected (I can't remember what they were now, but it was good).

                For NY-style, or the closest to it, I also vote for Gigios. I go to the one in Evanston because it's easier for me to get to and park around.

                1. Apart is really good. However the closest thing I have found to tradition NY pizza is Noli's on Kedzie. It is super good and really cheap. I love it. Also, tack on an order of garlic knots; you will not regret it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jonesybot

                    I am completely addicted to Noli's. I didn't know it was "New York" style until well after I was addicted, but this is what I want in a pizza-- chewy crust, but not too much of it; delicious tomato sauce; not so much cheese that it dominates everything else. Also, the store is really owned by Noli, who sometimes makes the pizza himself, and who is very community minded. Also, try the byrek, with homemade yogurt. If you have any space left over from eating the pizza.

                  2. I'm a "connoiseur" of sorts of NY pizza...

                    The closest slices I've found to it in Chicago are:

                    1) Art of Pizza on Ashland and

                    2) DAgostinos at 1351 W. Addison. They have this "slice door" on the side you can pick them up at.

                    Neither is a 'dead ringer' for NYC style, but they're fairly close, Dagostinos a bit closer, IMO.

                    1. anything in the western suburbs?

                      1. Santullo's gets my vote.... MMMMMMM. plus i think it's open 24 hours!

                        1. What city is Santullo's in?

                          1. It's in Chicago

                            1943 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
                            (773) 227-7960

                            1. So I got pizza from Gigio's in Evanston for the first time this week, after reading this thread, and it was good, but I didn't really see much difference from Giordano's, for example. It was certainly quite different from my gold standard, Noli's. If Gigio's is NY style, then so is Giordano's (thin). I'm confused....

                              I'm going to try the place on Touhy next.

                              I had a memorably horrible meal at D'Agostino's about 25 years ago (watery spaghetti) and haven't been back since, but I'm sure the cook has changed, and I'll try the pizza when I am in the area.

                              What about the Candlelight on Western near Howard, and could someone comment about the restaurant vs. bar atmosphere-- if I go, it would be with kids, and I guess I've always thought the place was a bar, not appropriate for kids. Tell me I'm wrong...

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Anne H

                                Candlelite is a family-friendly establishment, yes, but it sure isn't a NYC-style-pizza-friendly establishment. Candlelite instead slings a classic Chicago-style "tavern cut" (sqaures) cracker pie.

                                See pictures here:

                                http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?...

                                Candlelite Chicago
                                7452 N. Western
                                773.465.0087

                                E.M.

                                1. re: Erik M

                                  If you like this kind of pizza you will love Marie's 4127 W Lawrence Ave
                                  Chicago, IL 60630 Phone: (773) 685-5030. The sauce is great and sausage is very flavorful. Very Kitchy decor.

                                  1. re: Sport Diner

                                    Oh, Marie's is one of my favourites, and I make several visits each year.

                                    Anyway, FWIW, I have never been a big fan of Candlelite. I was just clarifying something for the prervious poster, Anne H.

                                    E.M.

                                2. re: Anne H

                                  "I didn't really see much difference from Giordano's, for example."

                                  Giordano's is known for its double-crust, stuffed Chicago-style pizza. They also have thin-crust pizza on their menu, but that's not what people are usually talking about when they mention Giordano's.

                                  1. re: Anne H

                                    To compare Gigio's to Giordano's and then claim that you "didn't really see much difference" displays a complete lack of pizza knowledge and ability to discern any variance in anyone's style of pizza.

                                    I would have better respected a "did not like" or "thought it not authentic enough" statement rather than an apples to oranges quip.

                                    1. re: abf005

                                      I think you're being rather unnecessarily rude. It wasn't meant as a "quip" just as an honest statement as I tasted it. And of course I'm not comparing Giordano's double crust, which I am perfectly familiar with, to Gigio's.

                                  2. I think you're right about olive oil (and they appear to brush the dough with garlic). I lived in Brooklyn for several years, and nothing I have tried in Chicago comes close to good NY style. It's not bad, mind you, but a slice from Original Ray's or a small hole in the wall near where I lived just has a whole different flavor and texture.

                                    1. just to fill you in, all that question the name. Pat Bruno and Pasquale Bruno are one in the same. Google either name and you will come up with the cookbooks written by me. And for those that question my pizza creds. I have been half way around the world teaching the art of making pizza. India, Mexico, Spain, Canada, etc. Keep up the good blogging, it's a fine forum for discussion.

                                      1. The only one I know of is Santullo's on North Ave in Wicker Park (North and Damen/Milwaukee). Good pies.

                                        1. here's the thing about luigi's, i think there is something wrong with their ovens because i'm always disappointed when i sit down and eat there BUT if you take your pizza home, warm it up in the oven at 350 for about ten minutes you got yourself a very good imitator of nyc pizza.

                                          1. I don't think most people under 40 or so even have a clue about what "Chicago Style" pizza really is. Deep dish pizza wasn't a big deal until the 70's, and there was Chicago Style pizza long before that trend. For some reason people have decided that Chicago is the home of deep dish pizza and are confusing this with the definition of Chicago Style. Sure a deep dish pizza is good - if you like big sloppy pizzas, but most people who were around before that deep dish craze were enjoying pizza a long time before the fad started. Real Chicago Style Pizza is simply decided by how the ingredients are added to the pizza. When the sauce is spread on the pizza dough and the ingredients are added before the cheese is, that is Chicago Style. The cheese is spread over all of the ingredients and the pizza finishes with a lot of stringy cheese covering everything. Other "style" pizzas are made with the cheese on the dough and sauce first and then the ingredients are spread over the cheese. Some would call that New York Style pizza. Either way, the pie is a thin crust that in Chicago is cut into rectangular pieces while New York style is cut into wedges, big wedges. Deep dish has noting to do with Chicago Style, and people who remember it that way are those younger folks who think the only way to get a pizza in Chicago is fat and overloaded on soggy doughy bread "crust". Sorry if this bursts your pizza bubble, but before the deep dish thing from the Silo and other Chicagoland pizzerias started, cheese over ingredients is what Chicago Style pizza was and is.

                                            16 Replies
                                            1. re: daddio

                                              Daddio, I beg to differ.

                                              You are correct about the order of ingredients on deep dish pizza or Chicago-style pizza, but what is known as true Chicago pizza was created in the 1940s at Uno's on east Ohio St. by Ike Sewell. Later sister restaurant Due's opened up a block away. It's true that a lot of imitators began in the 1970s, but the real deal preceded that by decades.

                                              I was born and raised in Chicago and I am no kid. I remember being taken to Unos by my father in the late 50s or early 60s and being blown away even then by the great crust, the massive sausage patty and the whole tomatoes that graced this amazing pizza..

                                              What you may be referring to is stuffed pizza that did originate in Chicago in the 1970s and involves two crusts.

                                              Wiki has the history of Chicago style pizza -- and while the order of ingredients is part of it, thick crust was its trademark.
                                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago-...

                                              It is also important to note that the frozen pizza and the national chain of restaurants called Unos bears no resemblance to the real deal served at Unos and Dues.

                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                Pizza and hot dogs - "Chicago style" of both - are items about which there's never a consensus of agreement. As a born/bred Chicagoan I don't consider "deep dish" or "stuffed" a definitive "Chicago Style" pizza. These are late comers to the city relative to the thin and even cracker crust which has and still does dominate the pizza preferences and business in the city from what I observe.

                                                1. re: gomexico

                                                  >> These are late comers to the city relative to the thin and even cracker crust which has and still does dominate the pizza preferences and business in the city from what I observe.

                                                  The Chicago Tribune did a recent poll and most of the 5000+ respondents preferred deep-dish pizza over thin crust. Ref: http://www.chicagotribune.com/feature...

                                                2. re: chicgail

                                                  Daddio was right on.
                                                  I agree that people under 40, especially those on the north side near the lake, which also happens to contain a lot of transplants, think of deep dish pizza as Chicago-style, when in reality, it was the thin cracker-type crust that Chicagoans usually ordered. In fact, they still do order it today a lot more than any deep dish, stuffed, or pan pizza. I could add that I have worked at 5 pizza joints over the since (since the late 80's). This includes working at Nancy's pizza, the creator of the stuffed pizza, where thin crust was ordered more than the stuffed.
                                                  Nowadays, though... I think that Chicagoans (especially peeps under 40) have pride with the individuality of a Chicago-original deep dish pie and this has become the mascot of Chicago-style pizza. It's our claim to the world that this is our beautiful creation and we live in a great city.
                                                  When I was young (1970's and 80's), I remember going to pizza places in some other states and we would compare a Chicago pie to that states' pie. It was always a comparision to the thin crust pie. We thought it never compared to a classic Chicago pie. We also always thought that the sausage was so much more superior than the horrible stuff that some of these other areas sprinkled on. When family or friends who moved out of state came back to Chicago, it was always about getting a Chicago pizza... aka, thin crust, party cut pizza.
                                                  But, it's definitely changing nowadays and people from out of state and many Chicagoans (again, especially 40 and under) are now stamping the deep dish into their minds as the Chicago-style pizza. Which is cool, in my opinion. I love them both. So, I like to think as the old style Chicago pizza as the thin cracker and the new Chicago pizza as deep dish.

                                                  Oh, and let me add... some people on here naming places like D'Agustos and Candlelight and Marie's as NYC style pie is so dead wrong. NY pie has a chewy crust and cut in a big pie shape. These aforementioned Chicago places have more of a crispy crust cut into squares (again, classic Chicago-style). I think the sauce is also a little different in each city.
                                                  Lastly, stuffed pizza is like a variation of a deep dish. I consider stuffed an even bigger and denser pizza than deep dish. Lots of cheese, especially.
                                                  Oh... and my vote for closest NY style pizza is Luigi's on Clark. I don't really know the difference between NY style and East Coast style, but, I love Garibaldi's Pizza in Villa Park (and I think they have like 3 other locations in the burbs). They opened up in 1976 with the concept of an east coast eatery (with grinders and other stuff).
                                                  Ok, 1 more thing. The ultimate crispy crust, browned cheese, and great sauce and sausage, then Joe's Italian Villa around 8800 S Harlem in Brideview has the best anywhere in the city. Also, Obies on Archer, and Vito and Nicks (or vice versa) on S Pulaski. Yeah, the SW side seem to have the best cracker crust. I am not from that area, so I am not being biased.
                                                  Ok, I'm done.

                                                  1. re: clappity

                                                    A New York/Jersey transplant that I know agrees with you on Luigi's as the best authentic NY style here.
                                                    I have been to Marie's once and was disgusted by the amount of fruit flies around the tables, on the pizza and in our wine.
                                                    I will go back, the manager said it was absolutely unusual. The pizza was very simple and good, what got eaten by us.

                                                    1. re: Alan N

                                                      I've actually just went to Marie's on 1/28 for lunch and ordered a pie. It was fairly good. I don't understand the hype about the cracker crust here, though... was really only crispy on the edges.
                                                      I just recently discovered this place called "Noli's New York Style" pizza at 4839 N. Kedzie Ave. Not too far from Marie's. I've never heard anyone comment on this place, so I question how authentic they might be. I am going to try them out soon.
                                                      Oh, and for good Italian bakery style "sheet," "tomato," "sicilian," or whatever-you-like-to-call-it pizza, D'amato's Bakery at 1124 W Grand Ave in Chicago and Scudierio bakery at 2113 West Lake Street in Melrose Park are real good.
                                                      Might I add that Melrose Park has the best festivals in Chicagoland. During labor day weekend, tons of small portions of foods with a high % of it being Italian specialties for $3 or less.
                                                      And the "Heart of Italy" community at the 2400 block of south Oakley in Chicago is really the last of the real Italian enclaves in the city, in my opinion. Real gritty there, but they have like 5 down home "Northern Italian" style restaurants in the area and at least 1 big deli. They host an Italian fest every year, too. Most Chicagoans speak of the old Little Italy area on Taylor street, which is a smidgeon of what it used to be.
                                                      I'm such a dork.

                                                      1. re: clappity

                                                        Hello clappity,
                                                        On that block, where specifically? Also, when is this Italian fest? Thanks dork.

                                                        1. re: Alan N

                                                          The Italian fest is called Festa Pasta Vino and it's usually in mid June. I haven't been for a few years, but my understanding is that it has gotten smaller over the last few years.

                                                3. re: daddio

                                                  "Chicago-style pizza first appeared in the fall of 1943 with the opening of Pizzeria Uno. Many GIs had been introduced to pizza as they moved up the coast of Italy, and several Chicagoans anticipated that they would want more when they returned home. Restaurateur and bon vivant Ric Riccardo became partners with Ike Sewell, a liquor salesman, and Sewell's wife, Florence, who had high-society connections in Chicago, in the new venture. Pizzeria Uno was located a few blocks from the well-known Riccardo's on Wabash at Ohio. Lou Malnati, Riccardo's associate manager, was brought over to help run the new establishment.

                                                  The Chicago style of pizza was marked by three characteristics: (1) enormous amounts of cheese and a thick, sweet pastry shell crust; (2) very high oven temperatures (600 degrees Fahrenheit) while baking, with plentiful amounts of cornmeal sprinkled in the pan to help insulate the bread; and (3) very long cooking times (50 to 60 minutes for a medium-sized pie). Such long cooking times allowed patrons time to consume many bottles of Chianti and Lambrusco while waiting."

                                                  J.S.Aubrey, Encyclopedia of Chicago

                                                  1. re: jbw

                                                    Because an author decides to define something a certain way doesn't mean the definition is accurate. Descriptions, like beauty, is defined by the eye of the beholder. "Chicago-style deep dish pizza" might be more accurate for what you're speaking of - but not, generally, all-encompasing, for pizzza, across the board, in Chicago - IMO. I'll offer the suggestion that deep dish or stuffed pizza is liked less by Chicagoans than any other pizza style in the city - well, except for the recent arrivals and tourists who read such definitions and think they're accurate. ;-)

                                                    1. re: gomexico

                                                      >> I'll offer the suggestion that deep dish or stuffed pizza is liked less by Chicagoans than any other pizza style in the city

                                                      Not true, according to the Chicago Tribune poll cited above.

                                                      1. re: nsxtasy

                                                        I don't know about how accurate the tribune polls are. After all a childhood friend is a tribune sports writer and he couldn't run to first base without tripping over his own feet.Growing up in the city and burbs most people I know go for the thin crust.We had four different types of pizza in a mile radius growing up. We had Salerno's on 16th,it was a thicker pizza.Freddie's on 16th, bakery style pizza.Al's on 22nd,thin crust.Benny's on 26th, not thick not thin.They were all different and good in their own ways.Everyone still seemed to like the thinner style.Deep dish really wasn't around until Giordano's started branching out.We used go to My TT on Clark in the late 70's for deep dish. I don't know if it was that good or because they served us beer.It was pretty crappy the last time i had it.We never got the "Chicago Style" thing?

                                                        1. re: paulhollyus2

                                                          Most people I know prefer deep-dish. But over 5,000 votes in a Tribune poll is a far more objective measure of what people in Chicagoland think than any individual's "most people I know", including yours or mine.

                                                          1. re: paulhollyus2

                                                            I wonder if your POV about thin v. thick crust is related to what you had as a kid and that in your world "deep dish wasn't really around until Giordano's started branching out," when, in fact, deep dish was definitely already a part of the scene for decades.

                                                            Chicago-style deep dish was, indeed, around and well-loved since well before I (and I presume you) were born but when you came in contact with it you had already decided that you, like "most people I know go for the thinner crust" or "everyone still seemed to like the thinner style."

                                                        2. re: gomexico

                                                          I would never contend that there are not many kinds of pizza in Chicago, some that are even closely associated with the area that are not deep-dish (such as cracker thin and square-cut); I was merely answering the above assertion that deep-dish is NOT Chicago style, when clearly a good part of the rest of the world thinks it is.

                                                      1. Top 3 for non cracker crust/somewhat NY Style:
                                                        Pizzaco's on Ashland
                                                        Gigio's on Broadway
                                                        Ian's on Clark
                                                        Now where to find garlic knots? Hmmm?

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: layne123

                                                          Add Jimmy's. Just tried them. The pizza is very very close to true NY pizza and the garlic knots are good. Try em!

                                                          1. re: layne123

                                                            My thanks to you and many others for assisting in my quest. Happy to say, I'm now finding some pizzas with the good, stringly cheese.

                                                            But the quality I haven't found yet is the greasy pizza aspect -- the use of olive oil on the top, presumably to speed the cooking plus adding to the flavor. Obviously there are excellent reasons for restaurants not to top their pizzas with olive oil. (Unless they also issue bibs).
                                                            That said, my shirt stains are long forgotten, but the taste memory won't go away.

                                                            Any suggestions?.

                                                          2. Try out Jimmy's Pizza Cafe, newly opened , located 5159 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Jimmy's will satisfy homesick New Yorkers living in Chicago. Thin folderble slice is a typical New York Pizza. crispy and chewy crust is fantastic!! Instead zeppoles, Jimmy's serves beignets that is better than Cafe Du monde's in New Orleans. Garlic Knots and White pizza too!!

                                                            I feel like it's only a matter of time before they're recognized as the best Ny style slice in Chicago.
                                                            I've tried nearly every NY style pizza on the other Ny style pizza thread and none of them can match Jimmy's. Finally we have a fine example of how NY style pizza should be executed.