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looking for good Chicago style pizza

anywhere on the westside or San Fernando Valley or Pasadena?

I've had a craving since Chicago Pizzaworks closed a few years ago and nothing has come close.

I enjoy Damiano's on Fairfax or Rafallo's on La Brea and Hwd Blvd., but still craving a real Chicago style pie.

Has anyone tried Taste Chicago in Burbank?

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  1. You might want to start out checking these past posts on the subject:

    As far as I'm concerned and I'll take flak for it....BJ's Pub is fine for me when it comes to Chicago style deep dish pizza.

    Taste of Chicago....not worth the effort unless you're on the way to the Bob Hope Airport and you need a quick bite.

    3 Replies
    1. re: monku

      thanks, I knew I couldn't be the only one with this craving, but couldn't help noticing that demand definitely seemed to overshadow supply. I'll keep watching the posts to see if anyone discovers something closer.

      1. re: monku

        Having been born and bread in the city of Chicago and spent 28 years relishing in the various styles of Pizza my hometown has to offer, I have never once crossed paths with ANYTHING resembling BJ's shit product. It is however, identical to Pizza Hut's Pan Pizza, so at least that got that going for them.

        "Chicago Style" my fat ass...

        1. re: jeffro

          I second that. BJ's is as about as close to Chicago style as Tokyo is to Memphis.

      2. Some time ago there was discussion about how Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock more closely resembles the Chicago thin-crust style (distinct from more famous Chicago deep-dish baked-in-pan style) than it does the classic New York style. Apparently you simply must have it with their house-made sausage, and they cut the round pie into square pieces. I know little of authentic Chicago pizza, but other posters claimed that these are hallmarks of that variety.

        1. A native Chicagoan myself, I think BJ's comes the closest to the pies you would get at Lou Malnatti's or similar places in Chicago. But honestly, sometimes it's better just to cough up the $70 and order them frozen from Chicago...

          1 Reply
          1. re: cpanagakis

            The Malnatti's frozen pizza's can be quite outstanding and close to the fresh one's on Wells. Ordered several and honestly, the pepperoni holds up much better than the sausage and cooks wonderfully, providing you follow the more complex recipe (defrosting, coating with oil, etc.)

          2. BJ's is NOT Chicago style pizza -- I'm embarassed any Chicagoan would even mention this in the same breath as Malnatti's! Casa Bianca is the closest to thin crust Chicago style. The italian sausage pizza is the best and the italian sausage is the real thing not the artificial version we tend to see on most pizzas out west. The family who run Casa Bianca originally relocated from Chicago in the 1950's. Zelo's pizza reminds me of a gourmet version of Ginos East - corn meal crust in a deep dish pan with gourmet toppings - the italian sausage or spinach pizzas are delicious. It is worth driving to Arcadia to try! Taste Chicago pizza is very average -- not what you are looking for. Taste is better for a hot dog or beef sandwich. Other than that there is not much "Chicago style" pizza in LA.

            1. Happened to be driving up Hollywood Way so I decided to give Taste Chicago ANOTHER try. This being the last try.

              2 Chicago Dogs. Stale buns...again. After that who could concetrate on the rest of the dog.

              1 "Slice" or piece of their deep dish pizza. What a joke. I've had better in an airport.

              Wasted a precious lunch and so many calories.

              I'll be looking elswhere.

              1. There has been a LOT of discussion about "Chicago-style" deep dish or stuffed crust pizza here...do a search and you will find my posts and more. Here's my note on the subject from a recent thread...

                My bottom line:

                The real deal
                Tony's Little Italy in Placentia
                Chicago Pasta House in Moreno Valley

                Mixed reviews
                Masa in Echo Park

                Interesting California twist to the deep dish concept
                Zelo's in Arcadia

                Decent restauramts, edible pizza but not the real thing
                BJ's - multiple locations
                Selma's - Rancho Santa Margarita
                Numero Uno - wherever they still are
                Uno's Chicago Grill - not sure they are still here in SoCal

                Used to be here in SoCal and I wish they still were
                Gino's East in Manhattan Beach
                Giordano's in Laguna Hills

                2 on my list to try -- looks/sounds real promising
                Sal's Bit of Italy in Anaheim
                Romano's Chicago Pizza in Riverside (3 locations)

                1 Reply
                1. re: RSMBob

                  Ditto on the Tony's Little Italy recommendation. Damn good stuffed pizza. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

                  Chicago Pasta House has been on my to-do list for so long, and man, I'm just waiting for an excuse to drive out in that direction.

                2. About a decade ago there was a restaurant called Josephina's and I fell in love with their deep dish pizza - especially the one with "everything." Was that a Chicago style pizza? (I'm a New Englander) And is anyone making pizzas like Josephina's in LA today?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: maggielyn

                    Oh god, I loved Josephina's (pasadena) pizza, and the brunette cocktail waitress that worked there. A large would last my roommate and I the whole weekend. It was definitely more than 10 years ago....

                  2. Friends don't let friends eat at BJ's. Definitely not even in the same league as Malnati's (even frozen). Even Pizzeria Uno (there's one on Victory and Coldwater) is better thick-crust than BJ's.

                    I only go to Taste Chicago for that incredibly addicting anisetta.

                    I'm moving to Anaheim so I'll check out Tony's in Placentia.

                    1. I think you will be more than impressed with the stuffed crust at Tony's...I think it compares well to the best in Chicago. In Anaheim also check out Sal's...I haven't been able to get there yet but, like Tony's it's been there a long time and could very well be a unpublicized hidden gem...a real chowhound find.

                      1. I have to post another for Zelo's in Arcadia. What sets Zelo's apart from most places, besides the unique corn meal crust, is that the proprietor seems to have a real passion for what he does. Very much worth a trip to Arcadia.

                        1. Opinions are definitely split on BJ's. With opinions so strong I'd recommend you go and see for yourself. I fall on the pro-BJ's side of the argument and I am from Chicago.

                          Tony's in Placentia is not bad. Is it that much better than BJ's? Just different. Authentic, sure. Would it make it in Chicago? Maybe.

                          Selma's is a lesser BJ's. Like BJ's on an off day. The pies are identical in most respects.

                          Haven't been to the others but I'd like to try them all. I'm going to bookmark RSMBob's list and start there.

                          1. The 20 Best L.A. Italian Restaurants
                            By JONATHAN GOLD
                            LA WEEKLY
                            Wednesday, February 7, 2007 - 1:00 pm

                            Crust Nevel Sleeps

                            Can there be a substance on the planet more delicious than a pizza pie from Casa Bianca straight out of the oven, a crisp, pliable crust speckled with burnt bits of cornmeal, slightly acid tomato sauce, a gooey mantle of cheese, optimally with nubs of house-made sausage and a handful of deep-fried eggplant sticks scattered over the surface? Does anything go better with a glass of sour red wine or a bottle of Moretti beer? Is it worth waiting an hour in line for a crack at the wedge-of-iceberg-lettuce salad encrusted with chopped olives and tomatoes, the salad whose DNA is borrowed by every steak house in town? Casa Bianca, run since the early 1950s by former oil painter Sam Martorana (who obviously transferred his artistry to the crust) and his wife, Jennie, is the premier checked-tablecloth restaurant in Los Angeles, a monument founded on dough. The pasta is authentically of the 1950s and the mushrooms on the pizza are canned, if that sort of thing bothers you, but no matter: Casa Bianca is a city treasure. When Barack Obama attended nearby Occidental College, people say, his favorite Casa Bianca pie was the one with pineapple and ham.1650 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, (323) 256-9617.

                            That’s Italian?

                            There is a pizzeria in the Marina famous for its adherence to the mandates of the Association of Real Neapolitan Pizza, and its girth, toppings, kneading, cheese and tomato sauce are all exactly what the Italian government insists a true pizza should be. Yet nine days out of 10, I prefer the brawny, high-mannerist pies that issue from the ovens at Zelo — an Angeleno interpretation of a San Francisco interpretation of a Chicago interpretation of a New York City interpretation of what a Neapolitan pizza should be, and totally, totally good. Crispness is generally a virtue in pizza, but Zelo’s crust, enriched with cornmeal, is almost beyond crisp, a crackling, luscious, tooth-shattering crispness with the staying power of a Hendrix chord. Pepperoni pizza, sir? Only if you’d like it with fontina and fresh mushrooms. My favorite, irregularly heaped with corn kernels, roasted torpedo onions glazed with balsamic vinegar, and snipped chives, is oddly reminiscent of a great antipasto table in Tuscany — totally Italian, and at the same time as un-Italian as you can imagine. 328 E. Foothill Blvd., Arcadia, (626) 358-8298.

                            1. I visted Tony's in Placentia -- made a 50-mile trek to check it out and ordered the stuffed cheese and sausage pizza. The crust was good but overall the sauce was not balanced and lacked something -- too tomatoey without "zing". Given I just had Lou Malnati's while in Cicago one month ago, I am comparing too a recent Chicago experience not to what I thought it tasted like manty years ago. It was OK and much better than BJ's. It was strange to see a deep dish pizza in front of me in OC land. After living in LA -- it it pretty uch thin crust and nothing more. It is not in the same league as Chicago pizza but for LA it is still heads above most. This pizza reminded me of a pizza place in Chicago that is'nt my fav but some people enjoy it: http://www.nancyspizza.com/index.html I still will say that Casa Bianca is much more balanced between sauce, cheese, crust and the vibrant, zesty italian sausage. Restaurant is very clean and reminded me of a Chicago neighborhood place.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: chowchi1

                                You more or less share the opinions of three Chicago natives I know who individually went on separate occasions. It's definitely not the real deal, and they'd prefer to get their pies shipped from the mother land. But it'll do given the unfathomable lack of options for stuffed pies in this large city, and you may actually like it a lot if you haven't been weaned on the Chicago pies for most of your life.

                                I might make the trek someday, but they're pushing me to go to Portillo's instead for true Chicago chow if I'm going to drive that far.

                                1. re: nakni

                                  I have been weaned on Chicago pizza all my life coming to such a large metro area with such poor pizza always amazes me. But the hunt continues -- maybe some day. There are a few that are good but geez, who ever thought it could be so difficult to find good pizza. It is worth the drive to Portillo's. It is as though you are in Chicago - everything is shipped in from Chicago. The Italian beef sandwich is how I remember it. (of course, I had it when I was in Chicago last year.) The hot dogs are good as well. Check it out!

                                  1. re: chowchi1

                                    Sounds like you know what you're talking about, have to give Casa Bianca a try, then..
                                    on a tangential note -
                                    I got a chuckle out of your post..I saw a baby with a giant slice hanging out of his face -
                                    (definition from online dictionary follows):
                                    TRANSITIVE VERB:
                                    weaned , wean·ing , weans
                                    To accustom (the young of a mammal) to take nourishment other than by suckling.
                                    To detach from that to which one is strongly habituated or devoted: She weaned herself from cigarettes.
                                    To accustom to something from an early age. Often used with on: "The northerners among the refugees ... were weaned on harsh weather and infertile soils and are known for their rigorous work ethic" (Lowell Weiss).
                                    Middle English wenen, from Old English wenian; see wen- 1 in Indo-European roots
                                    Usage Note:
                                    In recent years weaned on has come to be widely used in the sense "raised on," as in Moviegoers weaned on the Star Trek TV series will doubtless find the film to their liking. A few critics have objected to this usage on the grounds that wean refers literally to a detachment from a source of nourishment. But the process of weaning involves a substitution of some other form of nourishment for mother's milk; thus it is sometimes said that a child is weaned onto or on sugar water. Hence a sentence like Paul was weaned on folk music may suggest metaphorically that Paul's exposure to folk music began from the time he stopped nursing, that is, from a very early age.