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Deep Dish Pizza (no chains)

Are there any great deep dish pizza places in/around Chicago that aren't institutions/chains (like Uno's, Malnati's, Gino's)? I'm looking for more off-the-beaten path kind of places. Thanks!

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  1. Gulliver's on Howard Ave, is not one of the original deep dish places in the city, IMO it's still the best.

    1. I've tried a lot of standalone places, including Gulliver's, Pequod's (two locations, not sure if you consider that a chain), and Burt's Place, and IMHO the pizza is nowhere near as good as at the chains.

      If you don't really care how good the pizza is, and you want a place where the owner is present and affable (many years ago, Burt started Gulliver's and Pequod's) and the decor is really funky ("1940s attic"), consider Burt's Place, in Morton Grove. It doesn't get more "off the beaten path" than this.

      I still think the pizza itself is far better at the chains, though.

      1. There is one in Park Ridge, I am not sure if that is too far for you, it is called:
        J.D. Kadds - they have an awesome stuffed pizza!

        1. I like Calo's deep dish. It's has a somewhat cornmeal-ish crust. It's nothing like the chains so I can't really describe it.

          It's in Andersonville on Clark street.

          I also like Chicago's stuffed pizza but that's a chain.

          1. You're going to want to go to Pequods on Clybourn.

            2 Replies
            1. re: thebelly

              Delisi's on Western is my favorite deep dish. The crust is not as bread-y and more like a savory shortbread. It's so good! It's just south of Peterson on Western, 5806 N. Western Ave.

              1. re: thebelly

                I agree with this.

                Pequod's on Clybourn

              2. Burt's Place, Gulliver's, and Pequod's are some that come to mind. These are a bit off the beaten path. Pizano's pizza also is good, and is a smaller, local chain started by members of the Malnati family (two or three locations, I believe).

                I'm curious as to why you want to avoid chains/institutions, as I wouldn't necessarily consider the Chicago outposts of places like Malnati's and Pizzerias Uno and Due "chain restaurants", so to speak. I know that there always is debate on this topic, but I consider Lou Malnati's to be the best for deep dish.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RMA

                  I have really enjoyed Due's in the past, I may repeat on my nexy trip to Chicago. But then again, I'm a NYer.

                  1. re: RMA

                    I second RMA's comment whole heartedly. Malnati's, or "Lou's" as I like to call it, is only in the Chicago area, and my favorite too. Order the "Lou" and add garlic - fresh tomato slices, spinach, mushrooms, with lots of cheese and the best tasting sauce around, (especially with extra garlic!!)

                    1. re: naperwino

                      FYI, Lou Malnati's is known as Lou Mal's

                  2. My Pie (2417 N Clark St) is delicious and they have a GREAT salad bar. Art of Pizza is also pretty good (3033 N Ashland Ave). I have to admit though some of the chains are pretty good too, Lou Malnati's (439 N Wells St), DAgostino's (1351 W. Addison St), Carmen's (6568 N. Sheridan Rd)...these places are all delicious!

                    1. A few years ago the Chciago Tribune did a deep dish/stuffed taste-off over several months, with over 100 places tested. The biggies did not fare all that well, and if I remember correctly, the top 3 were:
                      1. The Art of Pizza (already mentioned)
                      2. Pizza Capri (I know they closed some loactions but I think they have a couple left)
                      3. Old World Pizza (Elmwood Park, North and Harlem, I believe)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: RSMBob

                        It's nice to see the non-chain recommendations. Believe that's what this board is about. A few months hiatus from discussing Chicago's best deep dish pizza just might be good for everyone's soul.

                      2. The big chains - Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, Gino's East, Edwardo's - do a remarkably good job maintaining consistent quality at their locations. Granted, I haven't been to every location of every chain, but I've been to several locations of each of these, and the pizza has been consistent (and excellent) everyplace. One notable exception I've heard about is national locations for Uno's, but I don't eat Chicago pizza when I'm out of town, so I can't confirm it based on first-hand experience.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          I made the mistake once of going to Uno's in Madison. Wow. I can confirm on a first-hand experience that it is bad. BAD! I still shudder and it was 10 years ago.

                          On the other hand, Uno's refrigerated pies at Jewel are pretty dang good. Not at all like take out or eating in but for a frozen pizza both the thin and thick crust are surprising flaky and tasty.

                          And for what it's worth - if I do crave deep dish I usually go to the "chains". I don't consider them chains though. IMO, Chicago Pizza and Giordano's are top for stuffed pizza. Lou's and Piazano's are top for regular deep dish. I threw out Calo's in a previous post as an option but it's not the best deep dish.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            You don't need to go out of town to experience the atrocity called Uno's Chicago Bar & Grill. It pretty much stinks equally everywhere, even in the Chicago area, Gurnee especially. The frozen pies are all crap too...

                            You might want to be more reserved about calling the deep/stuffed places above "big chains" even though they may have up to 20 Chicagoland only locations, they hardly fall into the "big" category like an Uno’s, Pizza Hut or Dominoes...

                            And lastly, strictly speaking, chain or not; my top five places for deep or stuffed Chicago Style are (in order) Gulliver's, Bachino's, Ricobene's, the Original Uno or Due (downtown only) and Giordano's. And BTW, I consider none of these to be "chains".

                            1. re: abf005

                              I also think that it's important to distinguish between the big chains (i.e., Dominos) and the Chicago-centric pizzarias such as Lou Malnati's. Those these restaurants have more than one location (within the Chicago area), I also would not consider them "chains" in the pejorative sense.

                              Agree that Uno's "Chicago Grill" is awful. I believe that there was one near the Fox Valley Mall, in Aurora, that closed.

                          2. I just tried the stuffed spinach from D'Agostinos and thought it was great. I usually get the thin crust from there but figured I give the stuffed a try.

                            1. There's a place that delivers -- I've never been inside the restaurant -- called Pizzaria Ora. Their deep dish pies are quite good. They make a "pizza blanco" with mozarella, feta, garlic, pine nuts, and slices of tomato instead of tomato sauce. That is my favorite local deep dish pizza.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chicagodoc


                                Pizzeria Ora
                                545 N. La Salle


                              2. I like Palermo's pizza. If you're not on the Southside, Red Ivy (up by Wrigley Field) also sells Palermo's pizza. They have the best sauce. It's slightly sweet. The crust is well cooked.