HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Best Chicago Style Pizza and Italian Beef

toyo2960 Aug 13, 2007 11:35 PM

I've lived in Chicago for over 15 years and now I'm back in LA. Anyone know any places that have good old fashioned Chicago style deep dish pizza and/or Italian beef sandwiches.
In Chicago we had places like Pizza Dué, Lou Malnattis, Giordanos, and Gino's East.
And for Italian Beef there's nothing like the famous Mr. Beef.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Steve2 in LA RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 12:09 AM

    Have you heard about "Taste Chicago"? I've eaten there but don't know that this is the best. . . or even 2nd best although it DOES have a claim to fame and some of the reviews I've read indicate the beef sandwiches are authentic so. . . here's a couple of the chowhound strings

    I say, check it out, what can you lose?

    Taste Chicago
    603 N Hollywood Wy
    Burbank, CA 91506
    Phone: (818) 563-2800

    3 Replies
    1. re: Steve2 in LA
      JeetJet RE: Steve2 in LA Aug 14, 2007 12:28 AM

      I never lived in Chicago either but I been there a half dozen times and ate at the places mentioned in the OP.

      I agree with Taste Chicago for the combo beef / sausage. In my opinion I like this one better than those in Chicago and I say that from eating in Chicago one night and at TC the next night.

      Tony's Little Italy – try a stuffed pie and IMO that is as close as you will get to Chicago deep dish at the places you mentioned -- I been there, and ate that. BTW, The pizza at Taste Chicago is not deep dish but they got the sauce right IMO, and that goes further than I ever thought it would.
      808 N Placentia Ave Ste B Placentia, CA 92870
      (714) 528-2159

      Oh ya, someone may mention Zelo. Not Deep! IMO, It is overpriced and has a stale corn cobb crust. These "Crust" sit in the ice box and are warmed to your order within twenty min -- not Chicago pizza!

      1. re: JeetJet
        limaboy RE: JeetJet Aug 14, 2007 01:13 AM

        portillos in buena park only thing even close to real Chicago Italian beef here IMO...
        it's just a couple minutes off the 5.
        dipped with mild peppers is tasty.
        pass on taste chicago....just not the real deal.


        1. re: limaboy
          roasted138 RE: limaboy Aug 16, 2007 11:08 AM

          I can't believe there's a Portillo's out here, I had no idea! That was the last thing I ate b/f moving from Chicago to LA.

    2. s
      sloanedone RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 03:00 AM

      Can only speak to the pizza side of that. No, there's no great Chicago pizza here. Certainly not at Taste Chicago. Gino's actually had a place here years ago and the fools here didn't support it. Fly into SF and try Zachary's, probably as close as you'll get to what you want on the West Coast.

      1. r
        RSMBob RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 03:31 AM

        Well, my flight to Chicago leavels in about 8 hours so I'll get the real thing for the next 10 days, but good stuff CAN be had here in SoCal...maybe not "LA", but heck, in SoCal you gotta drive! Lots of posts on these subjects, but here's a quick rundown:

        Deep Dish Pizza
        1. Tony's Little Italy in Placentia
        2. Chicago Pasta House in Moreno Valley

        Zelo in Arcadia has an interesting CA twist on the concept, Masa in Echo Park claims to be a descendent of Gino's East but is hit and miss, Sal's in Anaheim is pretty good. Romano's in Riverside (3 locations) looks very promising...I've only had the thin crust but it was very good! FYI, not only was there a Gino's East in Manhattan Village, but there was at one time a Giordano's in Orange County!

        Italian Beef
        1. Chicago's Best in Irvine
        2. Portillo's in Buena Park (just like in Chicago but with prices a bit higher)

        Taste Chicago in Burbank gets a lot of pub because of its location and celebrity owner (Joe Mantegna and his wife) but it doesn't match up to the first two. There is a place out in Redlands called Anthony's Chciago Style that looks promising but I have not made it out there.

        FInally, there was a write-up about a new place in Lake Elsinore of all places for both the IB and the pizza...the name escapes me but I want to make the trek out there sometime after my real Chicago journey is complete!

        1. b
          Burger Boy RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 06:43 AM

          I had a good Chicago hot dog & Maxwell Street Polish at QT's on Woodman this last saturday, they also had Chicago Beef & Beef and Sausage on the menu

          1. Das Ubergeek RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 07:46 AM

            Well... first of all, when you have tried all the places (because, for whatever reason, the places around here just don't stack up), Lou Malnati's does mail-order.

            That said, I rarely if ever find a reason to be in Mo Valley, so my go-to for Chicago deep-dish is Tony's Little Italy on Placentia's eponymous avenue. (Edit: no, the street is not actually called Eponymous Avenue, "eponymous" means "having been given its name".)

            Some people will tell you that Casa Bianca is Chicago-style thin-crust pizza, and I don't buy it for a single second.

            For IB, while I actually like the IB at Taste Chicago, Portillo's is better and (for me) closer to home... but they don't have the droolicious anisetta salad that TC does.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek
              epop RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 14, 2007 08:28 AM

              you're saying that there is no resemblance between a casa bianca and aurelio's pie?

              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                martyR RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 14, 2007 12:26 PM

                I have a dozen friends from Chicago who would be happy to argue with you about Casa Bianca.

                1. re: martyR
                  limaboy RE: martyR Aug 14, 2007 01:10 PM

                  I am from Chicago...and had more than my share of great deep-dish pizza there..I also happen to love the sausage pizza at Casa Bianca..and it has the feel of a neighborhood Chicago joint..it is not, however, much like Uno, Due, Salerno's, or any of the other great Chicago joints' deep dish.
                  the crust at Zelo is closer (given the corn meal)..but his corn pizza is extraordinary by ANY standard...


                  1. re: limaboy
                    martyR RE: limaboy Aug 14, 2007 01:41 PM

                    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that it is deep-dish. It's Chicago thin-crust style.

                  2. re: martyR
                    epop RE: martyR Aug 14, 2007 08:56 PM

                    argue with epop or das ubergreek?

                    imho aurelio's in homewood is the best but casa bianca, considering we're this far away, works for me, thankfully, though i keep aurelio's in the freezer.

                    1. re: epop
                      Das Ubergeek RE: epop Aug 14, 2007 09:05 PM

                      There's just no comparison to me between Aurelio's and Casa Bianca. It could be nostalgia, but Aurelio's is so much better to me.

                      I just came from Portillo's -- still far and away the best for all things Chicago save pizza in this area.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                        epop RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 14, 2007 11:05 PM

                        luckily it does the trick for me but i do wonder why you don't see any comparison--- even the salads are similar.

                        but pizza first and for that reason i'm thrilled to be able to fly in one and sit on the 110 for the other

                2. n
                  nick_r RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 01:52 PM

                  Generally speaking, you're in the wrong city for good pizza of any kind. There is nothing like Giordano's anywhere, as far as I know (and hell, that applies to the rest of the country; not just L.A.). BJ's (pizzeria/brewery chain) serves what they call "deep dish" pizza and it's pretty tasty, but you're never going to mistake it for anything from Chicago.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nick_r
                    a_and_w RE: nick_r Aug 15, 2007 10:04 AM

                    What you say may apply to Chicago-style pizza, but this ex-NYer has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pizza in LA.

                    1. re: a_and_w
                      epop RE: a_and_w Aug 15, 2007 02:15 PM

                      ditto. i never understood, as an ex ny-er why people there like their pizza a great deal

                  2. v
                    Vegasbuff RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 01:52 PM

                    I've never been to Chicago and had their deep dish pizza, but here is my experience at Tony's Little Italy:


                    1. c
                      chowchi1 RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 03:09 PM

                      Portillo's in Buena Park for Italian beef. Taste Chicago is so-so. Still have to try Chgo's Best in Irvine. QT's in Sherman Oaks has a good Chicago dog but the beef sandwich is too salty. Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock for Chicago style Thin Crust (order the sausage). I was in Chicago recently and had thin crust at neighborhood places and then had Casa Bianca out here - not too much difference for thin crust. Enjoy Zelo's just for the cornmeal crust and slightly gourmet versions of pizza. Chicago Pasta House mentioned earlier recieved a great review for "Giordano's style pizza" from LA Weekly: http://www.laweekly.com/eat+drink/ask...

                      1. s
                        starqrtrs RE: toyo2960 Aug 14, 2007 11:28 PM

                        I thought I heard that Masa in Echo Park was the best Chicago style pizza in LA... any thoughts on that place? Anyone?

                        1. b
                          Bict RE: toyo2960 Aug 15, 2007 12:50 AM

                          Stone Fire Pizza Co on La Cienega in West Hollywood actually comes pretty close. Not the same as Giordano's but better than Tony's Little Italian in my opinion

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Bict
                            chowchi1 RE: Bict Aug 15, 2007 03:09 AM

                            The description on the Stone Fire website sounds good but will have to check it out. As for Masa, I never returned after trying it one time. I thought it bland and not Chicago-style though it was advertised that way.

                            1. re: chowchi1
                              starqrtrs RE: chowchi1 Aug 15, 2007 06:23 PM

                              well I'm trying to decide if Masa is worth the visit... so many people rave and hate it and I can't really figure out why.

                              1. re: starqrtrs
                                flyerfan182 RE: starqrtrs Aug 15, 2007 06:29 PM

                                i just love tony's little italy

                                as someone who is a pizza freak, tony's deep dish will suffice in so cal.

                                1. re: flyerfan182
                                  kiwi RE: flyerfan182 Aug 15, 2007 06:55 PM

                                  Agree whole heartedly with Tony's Little Italy. He's the real deal from Chicago. Will talk your ear off about 'quality' if you give him the chance. Best Chicago pizza (better than any I've had in Chicago...don't hit me.) Here's their website: http://www.tonyslittleitaly.com/

                                  Tony's Little Italy Pizza
                                  1828 N Placentia Ave, Placentia, CA 92870

                                  1. re: kiwi
                                    RSMBob RE: kiwi Aug 15, 2007 07:30 PM

                                    I've been a proponent of Tony's for years and introduced it to many here...I think the most valid critique is that they are a little light on the toppings (or fillings). Too many people here have said the only real deep dish/stuffed crust pizza in SoCal is if you mail order it in from Lou M's, Giordano's, Gino's East, etc., but it seems many of those haven't given Tony's a try. Sure, you may like Zelo's better...or another place...but Tony's is IMHO the real deal...would match up well with many in Chicago. In SoCal where so much of everything is corporate chain food, it is great to see a small family run place put out a quality product that is somewhat unique to the area.

                                    Now...while I'm here in Chicago (going to Wrigley Field tomorrow!), somebody go out and give Romano's in Riverside a try and someone else trek out to Lake Elsinore and check out that place!

                                    FYI Chicagoans...I had Home Run Inn pizza for dinner last night and a beef/sausage combo tonight!

                                    1. re: RSMBob
                                      roasted138 RE: RSMBob Aug 16, 2007 11:12 AM

                                      Home Run Inn?!? I'm so jealous! : ) Enjoy Wrigley Field, their hot dogs are incredible.

                          2. m
                            Mel Gee RE: toyo2960 Aug 15, 2007 09:34 PM

                            Nothing like the famous Mr. Beef? My teeth and tongue claim that Al's Beef on Taylor and Johnnie's in Elmwood Park are both far better than anything on Orleans. But there's no accounting for taste.

                            Also, Al's is across the street from a great Italian-lemonade stand (which is open only in summer).

                            Getting back to Southern California, the beef at Portillo's isn't great, but it isn't bad -- probably the best I've had outside Chicago and far superior to the tough, thick-sliced "Chicago-style Italian Beef" generally offered in the provinces. The bread is something else again. Good texture but strange aftertaste that really began to bother me on the third and subsequent visits. The hot dogs are skinny little wieners, not Vienna Beef, but they're actually pretty good. The chocolate cake milkshake is stupendous!

                            Last year I was at Mustard's on Katella and asked the lady behind the counter if they sold their Gonnella bread separately from the beef sandwiches. The Gonnella people had given me a list of restaurants they supply in Southern California, and I was hoping to snag some real bread at Mustard's and bulk meat at Portillo's, thereby improving both. But she told me they had dropped Gonnella for a Safeway-style french loaf, because her customers didn't like the chewy texture.

                            Good thing I love Los Angeles. I'll close by noting that Al's will overnight beef, bread, gravy, and giardiniera to anyone who will swear he has never been to a night game. (Ahh, they're probably White Sox fans.) Unfortunately, they can't ship their supremely luscious fries or the Taylor St. porch-stoop ambience.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Mel Gee
                              flyerfan182 RE: Mel Gee Aug 15, 2007 11:12 PM

                              The one thing that makes me still savor Giordanos out here is that at Tony's you can't get a stuffed Spinach pizza. To my knowledge they don't have it unless they have recently. The sauce is not the greatest thing in the world, but its does justice like I have said before. BTW Tony is one character, get him going on Chicago sports teams.

                              I enjoy eating in the restaurant around 5pm (before the rush). It is fun to just chill out with some friends, watch the one or two small tvs and relish on the fact this guy(Tony) makes killer killer pies.

                            2. rantsnravesnreviews RE: toyo2960 Aug 16, 2007 10:11 AM

                              I hate to sound "dumb" but what is Italian beef, and would Claro's have it? Sounds like something I might want to try!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: rantsnravesnreviews
                                chowchi1 RE: rantsnravesnreviews Aug 16, 2007 11:41 AM

                                Claro's does not have Italian beef sandwiches. Italian beef sandwiches are a staple in the Chicago area. They are delicious! The only place to get them are Chicago outposts as noted above. http://www.portillos.com/ca/portillos...

                                1. re: chowchi1
                                  Ollie RE: chowchi1 Nov 15, 2013 07:05 AM

                                  For me, it missed the mark. Maybe because I've been to Portillos in Bolingbrook. When I ordered a "combo w/hot & sweet, dunked" the person taking my order had that puzzled look...kinda like the RCA puppy with it's head tilted to the side. Had to slow down & explain/simplify my order. Just a reminder that I wasn't in Chi town. Portion of beef on "sangwich" was a joke compared to Chicagoland. Gave me the sandwich wet, not dunked, as I requested. Forgot the gardineira. I like Portillos, just not in SoCal.

                              2. s
                                scaramouchy RE: toyo2960 Nov 23, 2011 01:17 AM

                                I spent the first 40 years of my life in Chicago and I can tell you with confidence that there are not any good Chicago style deep dish pizzas available in California from San Diego to San Francisco. Taste Chicago makes a pretty good Italian Beef but that's about it. I consider myself an expert on this subject and have been making my own pizzas and Italian beef/sausage sandwiches since 1966. It's a passion for me. Two weeks ago sunday I made about six Home Run Inn style pizzas for 15-16 people at my daughters house for her and her friends. They all said that it was the best pizza they ever had and even gave me a standing ovation.
                                What's the bottom line? Make your own; there's enough info available on the internet to get you started. Expect to make many many poor samples before you will be proud of your results, that is if you are trying to aproximate UNO'S or one of the many copy cat pies or ones like Home Run Inn and Connies.

                                Taste Chicago
                                603 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: scaramouchy
                                  Peripatetic RE: scaramouchy Nov 23, 2011 02:01 AM

                                  > I can tell you with confidence that there are not any good Chicago style deep dish
                                  > pizzas available in California from San Diego to San Francisco

                                  Out of curiosity, have you tried Hollywood Pies?

                                  If not, check out this thread:

                                  "Hollywood Pies - FINALLY some decent Chicago Pizza in LA" (65 replies)

                                  1. re: Peripatetic
                                    brwencino RE: Peripatetic Nov 23, 2011 01:42 PM

                                    Hollywood Pies makes what I would call authentic deep dish Chicago Pizza, whereas both Maza's and Oak Fire are lousy and not even close to deep dish Chicago Pizza, despite what the call it.

                                    Hollywood Pies
                                    385 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

                                    1. re: brwencino
                                      Peripatetic RE: brwencino Nov 23, 2011 02:40 PM

                                      That's what I understand, too. I'm curious whether scaramouchy's sweeping condemnation takes Hollywood Pies into account, as other hounds who are familiar with Chicago pizzerias seems to think it's good. Maybe not great, but good.

                                      1. re: Peripatetic
                                        scaramouchy RE: Peripatetic Nov 23, 2011 04:41 PM

                                        No, I haven't taken hollywood pies into consideration because I never heard of it before. I have had a few pretty good pizzas in Calif. but I long for the pizzas the are made by certain Chicago Pizzerias; it's like nobody can make spagetti like Mom, It's what I grew up with. When I make my own I strive to copy either Uno's/Due's or Home Run Inn, and I always go to one or both when I go back.

                                      2. re: brwencino
                                        scaramouchy RE: brwencino Nov 23, 2011 05:04 PM

                                        Never been there, so I checked them out online. It was easy to tell just from the pictures of their product that it seems to a replica of Geno's East. Keeping in mind that Uno's was the origional Chicago deep dish pizza. The rest of the Chicago Deep Dish pizzerias are copies with each slightly modifying there pizzas. I've eaten at all of them and always felt that Uno's used the best ingrediants with some of the others cutting corners. Uno's has franchised a pizzeria called Uno's Chicago pizzeria and Grill, or something like that. Not the same as the origional Uno's, because the pizzas are constructed in those restaurants NOT made from scratch, but good.

                                  2. toyo2960 RE: toyo2960 Nov 23, 2011 09:20 AM

                                    I still haven't found a great (not good) place for Chicago Style Pizza or Italian Beef.
                                    I'm from Chicago, so it get's rather disappointing. (Sure, I can have Lou Malnatti's or I think Giordano's freeze a pizza and ship it (how expensive is that?, Oy!). I've heard people mention Moreno Valley or Placentia? That's so far to drive, I might as well take a plane to Chi-town.
                                    I've eaten at Portillos in Chicago; never thought their food was any good. It's a chain. And it tastes like a chain restaurant (Even in Chicago, the beef was dry and tasteless.) I'd like to finds something closer in town: South Bay, the LA Basin, Burbank, OC. But not all they way out in Woodland Hills or out in Moreno Valley for something that's just "okay" or passable. Aren't there enough ex-Chicagoans here in SoCal? Or at least know how to cook Chicago-style. (If there were such a thing.) You can't beat Al's Beef in Chicago, or Mr. Beef for a Italian Beef sandwich.
                                    I've already read off the pizza joints. I find much of the pizza here, either Chicago or NY thin crust akin to eating cardboard with bland, sweet tomato sauce on it. Sauce that came out of can. I don't like Wolfgang Puck or California Pizza Kitchen and their froo-froo pizzas.

                                    California Pizza
                                    16960 Van Buren Blvd Ste D, Riverside, CA 92504

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: toyo2960
                                      calharley RE: toyo2960 Apr 5, 2012 05:04 PM

                                      Tonys in Placentia is worth the drive, if i wasnt bbq my filet mignon on my weber i would call Tonys right now, all this talk about Chi deep dish

                                      1. re: calharley
                                        scaramouchy RE: calharley Apr 5, 2012 11:02 PM

                                        all this talk about Chicago deep dish? What?

                                    Show Hidden Posts