Deep dish Chicago-style pizza in Los Angeles?
NOT DEEP DISH, but definitely Italian-Chicagoan pizza!
I must suggest Al Gelato on Robertson just south of Wilshire for their Pizza. Clare's family is Italian and from Chicago and they opened the restaurant/gelateria 20+ years ago.
Al Gelato's pizza is medium crust pizza, has a delicious tomato sauce and SOOO much cheese. Their pizza is incredibly delicious. Im salivating as Im typing this.
Chicago is a meal town. By that I am saying that every food item becomes a meal in itself. A Chicago dawg is a pile of food with a hot dog hidden someplace under it all. Not even Carney’s “Chicago Dog” comes close to the pile of food you get in Chicago when you order a dawg. In Chicago places like Geno’s and Uno’s make Pizza as if it should be a casserole baked in a “Deep dish pizza pan” which really is like a “casserole dish” which is a..., deep dish.. A deep dish is a hour long wait and People in L.A. do not understand that. During that hour you are supposed to order beer, and re-order beer again, as long as it takes and the deeper the dish the better. That is why Zello’s up in Monrovia with their 20 minute -- what ever it is they make – is not a Chicago deep dish. Go to Tony’s and enjoy a deep....Chicago style pizza
Tony's Little Italy
1808 N Placentia Ave Ste B
Placentia, CA 92870
Tony's is ok -- a tad too much cheese and the sauce needs more of a kick but looks and feels like the closest version of a deep dish Chicago style pizza. Keep in mind Placentia is in Orange County and is a drive for LA area types. I think people are overeacting on Zelo's. Zelo's is not Chicago style per se but is deep dish with a gourmet twist -- I enjoy it for what it is but it is not traditional Chicago style deep dish in it's purest form. As for Masa in Echo park -- I did not thnk it was Chicago style thought that is what they call it -- I was so underwhelmed I've never returned. For Chicago hot dogs you go to Portillo's in Buena Park. Pizza in Placentia and hot dogs in Buena Park -- who knew OC would be the Chicago connection?
Really, who knew OC would be the Chicago connection for Pizza and Dawgs? I will never think down about OC again. I don’t think Tony’s is all that far from L.A. to have a good Chicago style pizza when it is the closest there is other than jumping on a jet at LAX. I agree about Portillo's Hot Dogs. That is the one thing I like to have there. I disagree about Zelo’s being a deep dish. Zelo’s is medium thick even for California standards with a crust that is formed up the side of the deep pan that creates a first impression of it being deep (side view). But looking from above the rest of the deep pan is empty except for the thin-to-medium thick corn crust bottom and small amount of what ever they put on it way-deep-down-there in that deep pan. Hence a 20 minute cooking time. I recall the layer of sausage on the bottom of the deep dish at Geno’s being thicker than the whole Zello’s ... A Chicago deep dish pan is filled to the top all across the deep pan. Maybe that is why there is too much cheese for you at Tony’s. At Tony's, like in Chicago, a slice of Pizza is a meal in itself.
Tony's Little Italy (Chicago Deep Dish)
1808 N Placentia Ave Ste B
Placentia, CA 92870
Portillo's Hot Dogs (Chicago Dawgs)
8390 La Palma Ave
Buena Park, CA 90620
Maybe I had a bad experience, but I didn't find the crust at Zelo's enjoyable at all... too hard and way too much cornmeal (yes, I know it's a cornmeal crust, but still). I also thought the eggplant on mine was too bitter (maybe they didn't salt it).
I don't have any particular standards for deep dish type pizza, as I didn't grow up in the midwest, so I figured I'd be able to enjoy Zelo's more than "east coast" style Los Angeles pizza, but I dunno - it didn't do a lot for me the time I visited.
Masa in Echo Park is not Chicago-style deep dish. I had it once and was horribly disappointed. The crust was very thick and my toppings came on top of the (not very generous amount of) cheese which came on top of the sauce. Their cheese tasted like it was low fat or processed (is there processed mozzarella?) or something. Cornmeal crust is one thing, but the crust was like soggy cornbread. Not fun, not yummy, totally not satisfying. Actually, my (Texan) roommate liked it so maybe it was good as a pizza, but I was too horrified by its un-Chicagoness to appreciate it for what it was.
It look me almost a year in Los Angeles before I gave up my dreams of finding Chicago-style foods and simply went native. I'm much happier now with my spicy soon tofu, cheap banh mi, and cochinita pibil tacos.
Now you chowhounds have really done it. I've tried to selectively ignore any posts that mention Chicago but now I feel a trek out to Orange County for Tony's Little Italy coming on. Just let it not be awful. I will cry if it's awful. Then I'll go online and order frozen pies from Malnati's or Giordano's.
ITA! I once waited an hour for that monstrosity with such high hopes... and you described it perfectly... all crust and icky crust at that! :P
As for Tonys... it's NOT awful. But it's not like "home". To set expectations... here's my run down at Tonys... one of my favorite pizza joints in the city, but still not all there in terms of the Chicago Style I sorely miss...
The bad news...I don't know of anything near your geographic area that fits the bill. The good news...traveling a little ways may get you some satisfaction.
Here's a post I made back in February...with some updates and more details:
The real deal as I see it (and opinions do vary!)
Tony's Little Italy in Placentia - owners are native Chicagoans but have been here 20+ years...moved locations a few years ago..just won 2007 AOL City Guide Best Pizza in OC, quite an award for a small family-run place. Biggest critique from some is they are too heavy on the cheese on the stuffed pizza.
Chicago Pasta House in Moreno Valley - another place that has been around for 20+ years. The owner was an original employee or part-owner of Giordano's (I think). I haven't been there in 5 years but it was my go-to before I found Tony's. Have heard that it has gone downhill but I can't vouch for that. Biggest drawback is that, well, it's WAY out in Moreno Valley.
Masa in Echo Park - onwers are from Gino's East in Chicago, but the pizza gets decidedly mixed reviews. Probably the closest option geographically for you.
Zelo's in Arcadia - Interesting California twist to the deep dish concept. Corn Meal-based crust with some unique topping combinations.
Decent restauramts, edible pizza but not the real thing
BJ's - multiple locations (fine restaurant/brewery and the pizza is ok...but nothing like what you get in Chicago). More of a pan pizza.
Selma's - Rancho Santa Margarita - owned by relatives of BJ's. How I wish this were the real thing (as I live there in RSM!), but the pizza is similar to BJ's. Again, a nice place to go to.
Numero Uno - wherever they still are. I never cared that much for this once-good-sized SoCal chain but I think they are still around in some places
Uno's Chicago Grill - not sure they are still here in SoCal but I know they are around the country. This offshoot of the real Chicago Uno's has morphed into a Friday's/Chili's type place, not that it's bad, but the pizza is a poor representative of the real Uno's or what you can get in Chicago.
Used to be here in SoCal and I wish they still were
Gino's East in Manhattan Beach
Giordano's in Laguna Hills
There was another place (Chicago Pizza Works?) on the west side (maybe Santa Monica) that was supposedly very good, but that, too, is long gone.
2 on my list to try -- looks/sounds real promising
Sal's Bit of Italy in Anaheim - another long time place. I was able to stop into the place but didn't have time to eat. I think it's going to be pretty good and would be real interested to hear if someone can make it there and check it out.
Romano's Chicago Pizza in Riverside (3 locations) - stoppped at one a couple weeks ago (review on CH California Board)...only had time for a thin crust which I thought was VERY good (the italian beef sandwich, however, was not so good). Will be back in June to try a stuffed crust pizza.
Update: Just head of another new place that looks and sounds very promising for thin and deep/stuffed pizza, italian beef, hot dogs and more...Joe and Tony's in Lake Elsinore. Good review here on CH and the website looks good, too (not that I would eat a website, hahaha).
Bottom line is that, like many things in SoCal, the good stuff can be found but requires a drive!
Despite the fact that I normally am not that crazy about chains, I think that Numero Uno has the best deep dish I've ever had. I went to Chicago with a friend and hit up Pizzeria Uno and 2 other legendary places, and I still prefer the taste of Numero Uno. I always get the thick crust Slaughterhouse Five, well done. Maybe because I grew up eating it, Numero Uno remains my favorite. Unfortunately, most of them have closed down, I think because of poor management.