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New Yorker looking for pizza in Chicago

I'm coming to Chicago from NYC with my fiancee the day after Thanksgiving (I know, bad idea but it's the only day I can take her). She's never been to the Midwest and I've tried to explain how pizza is different there.

I'm originally from Milwaukee so I'm very familiar with the thin crust, cut into squares pizza that I grew up with (Pepi's, Zaffiro's, Ann's, etc). I've never had the deep dish or pan pizza in Chicago and I've always wanted to try. I've had Edwardo's at it's Milwaukee location and I seem to remember the stuffed spinach was so-so, the thin crust version, however, was a huge favorite.

Anway...as I prowl around Chowhound I get a lot of mixed opinions about the best places, just like you'd get in NYC (IMO the best pizzarias in NYC are-in order- Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, Totonno's).

What surprises me is some from Chicago say Pizzeria Uno which, here in NYC is like a tourist joke chain. When I see people in a Pizzeria Uno I think: "Was TGI Fridays closed?" I've heard good things about Pizzaro's and just when I think I've made up my mind I read something bad. Maybe I should just take her to the Billy Goat and be done with it.

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  1. Take her to Al's or Jim's up near UIC.

    1. For the quintessential Chicago Pizza experience, you should take her to Burt's Place, a quirky little hole-in-the-wall joint in a residential neighborhood in Morton Grove. Burt practically invented Pan Pizza (not deep-dish, but pan). He was the founder of some of Chicago's most venerable pizza venues, and has been perfecting his craft for almost half a century. He is a true master. If you don't have a car, you can take the Metra Milwaukee District North train to the Morton Grove stop, and walk a block east.

      Burt's Place
      8541 N. Ferris
      Morton Grove, IL
      847-965-7997

      1. You want a pizza like you've never had? Go to the Organ Grinder for a deep-deep upside down pizza-it's to die for! Lincoln Park area.

        And for the best red hots in the universe, try the Weinner Circle on the way from Lincoln Park area to the Wrigley hood...unbeleivable! And I am a die hard NY DOG fan.

        Chitown has great grub for sure!

        4 Replies
        1. re: netmover

          Yeah, there is no place in Chicago called 'Organ Grinder'. What Netmover probably meant was the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder. It's like a pot pie of pizza. I have no personal experience with it but if you are looking for a typical Chicago pizza, I can say that's not it (not to say that its good or bad). If you are going to be in the downtown area, I second the recs for Lou's or Piazanos with Piazano's being my personal favorite.

          1. re: lbs

            I've never been here either but it looks promising from the website: http://www.chicagopizzaandovengrinder...

            But I agree it does not look a typical Chicago (or anyone’s) pie, quite unique.

            I tried Pizano's the other day with several of my office co-workers, and the verdict was; 4 of the 5 of us agreed that it was "just OK" and only one person really liked it.

            IMO it was EXACTLY the same as Lou Malnatti's except a little more well done. Same crumbly hard pastry crust, same sauce etc. and since it a Malnatti owned establishment its not surprising really. So basically it’s same overrated pizza.

            Of all the comments that my office mates said about Pizano’s, the one that struck me as spot-on was; “it’s really not a very deep pizza is it? In fact it’s just a glorified thin crust really”. The total height at the center of the pizza couldn’t have been more than 1⁄2 an inch thick.

            1. re: abf005

              Thanks so much for the clarification and www address, I just wrote to see if they'll send me one to South Beach! They are available frozen to take home. GO there and forgedaboutit!!!

            2. re: lbs

              Oh my God, you are absolutely right! It's been 5 years or so and I'm still dreaming of that place! It is unlike any pizza in the world and a true treat for the taste buds...phenomenal in fact. I thought it was head and heels above the typical pan pizza everyone lauds up in Chitown. Actually, there's another note worthy pizzaria not far from there that is more typical, sorry I am obviously not good with names...help!

          2. First off, I love Grimaldi's. It's the first stop I make when I get to NYC.

            But I live in Chicago, so I'm partial to the deep-dish. Honest advice here: Lou Malnati's is where you should go. Their best pizza is served at the Wells St. location. I sincerely suggest you order a deep-dish cheese and ask for it "well-done". That way it will be cooked to perfection.

            And if you're pressed for time, call ahead and "pre-order". Otherwise be prepared to wait about 40 minutes. But it's worth it.

            And yeah, Pizzeria Uno and Due are kind of a laughing stock now. The pizza used to be the best, but they now decided they'd rather be rich. I'm sure it's still good enough for some, but not me. And probably not you either.

            1. If you go to Malnati's, order it with extra sauce and cheese as their pies have great ingredients but tend to be a bit on the dry side, IMO.

              I've never had a bad slice at Uno/Due OR Giordano's, like 'em both.

              Connie's is great. Pizza Capri on Belmont at Sheffield is great.

              1. "What surprises me is some from Chicago say Pizzeria Uno which, here in NYC is like a tourist joke chain. When I see people in a Pizzeria Uno I think: "Was TGI Fridays closed?""

                The original Uno's on Wabash Ave. has nothing to do with the "Uno Chicago Grill" chain other than its name. There is much debate (as you know) on this and other boards about the relative merits of Uno's deep dish v those of its competitors (Malnati's, Gino's et al). There is no debate about the merits of Uno's v its hapless, misguided progeny.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jbw

                  Last I saw Uno and Due were owned by the company that owns "Uno Chicago Grill". However, the originals are managed separately and are significantly better than their chain brethren.

                  That said, I'd still suggest Pizano's or Malnati's for deep dish pizza.

                2. wow, i can't believe no one mentioned Pequod's on Webster & N. Clybourn. I'm a stranded NY'er and I love it there.