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"Chicago Style Pizza"

I am always scared to order deep dish pizza at any place that calls it "Chicago Style". I almost feel that if they don't even know what to call the darn thing, they won't know how to make it.

Are there any dishes that you would try/not try because their name gives/denies credibility / authoritativeness to their makers?

And am i missing out on refusing to try "Chicago Style Pizza"????

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  1. Why would 'chicago style' pizza scare you? I'd think it would refer to a specific type of pizza which is different from pizza hut style deep dish.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ESNY

      I've found that there are a number of places outside Chicago claiming to serve "Chicago-style deep dish" which is anything but. And I've known a few people who became totally turned off to Chicago-style because of the atrocities served at places like Uno's Chicago Grill.

      For my own part, I am willing to try foreign foods outside their context, but understand that this is only a "glimpse" of what the authentic version might be like. So while I might not be the biggest fan of tourtière in NYC; I'll at least know what to expect when I try it in Montreal. (Everything deserves at least another chance)

    2. I wouldn't get hung up on the name -- the owners may just be going for a description that locals will understand. It certainly separates it from thin crust, although there are plenty of variations there. The question, as usual, should be: Does it taste good?

      With that said, you may or may not be getting the "real deal" -- what native Chicagoans (is that right?) would call Chicago pizza. Ask around! See if people like it!

      1. I rarely will try anything labeled a "Philly Cheesesteak" anywhere outside of Philadelphia( I have been burned too may times in the past before I learned my lesson, and gave up). For me to try one outside of Philly, it has to come highly recommended by a trusted friend, or source.

        Im a lifelong Chicagoan, and I dislike what is passed off as a "Chicago Style Pizza". I like thin crust myself, and really dont care for pan, or stuffed pizza at all.

        1. Whether you're missing out depends on whether there's anyplace in your area that makes a decent Uno's-style deep-dish or Nancy's-style stuffed-crust pizza.

          1. The term "Chicago-style pizza" is somewhat confusing. 80+% of pizza eaten in the Chicago area is a variant of thin crust, but "Chicago-style" invariably refers to a deep dish, pan or stuffed crust pizza.

            Whether or not I would order a "Chicago-style" pizza outside of the Chicago area would largely depend on the knowledge I have for the reputation of the place. Here in SoCal, for instance, I know of just a handful of places that do it well.

            That being said, a combination of bread, tomato sauce with spices, cheese and your favorite toppings/fillings is bound to be at least semi-edible!

            1. I read in someone's food blog the other day and interesting definition of Chicago Style pizza which was not contingent on the deep dish but rather the fact that the cheese covers the other ingredients ... even a thin cracker style crust can be Chicago style if the cheese tops it all

              5 Replies
              1. re: SGFoxe

                That blogger would be wrong. There is a Chicago-style thin crust, but it's not defined by where the cheese falls on the pizza. The designation is based, like with deep dish, on the consistency of the crust.

                1. re: JungMann

                  Exactly, and besides, most Chicago style deep dish pizza has the cheese on the bottom and the tomatoes and sauce on top. Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, Gino's East, Uno and Due all do it that way. And I hate it when people confuse the original Uno in Chicago with the abomination that is a chain by the same name. The chain has absolutely nothing to do with the original, which is still wonderful.

                  1. re: tdmccarthy21

                    Thanks for clearing that up. I have not been impressed AT ALL by the couple of Uno's I have been to (outside of the Chicago area, so they must have been a part of the chain) I had always thought they were related to the original Uno's in Chicago and could not understand why people thought Uno's was so good after my experiences.

                    1. re: tdmccarthy21

                      The original Pizzeria Uno at 29 East Ohio is owned by the chain. Have they still not ruined it?


                  2. re: SGFoxe

                    The original Neapolitan pizza has cheese on top, so by that definition it's Chicago-style, even though pizza didn't arrive in Chicago until decades later.

                    "Chicago-style" is ambiguous, since there are several local styles.

                    Outside of Chicago, it normally means either a knockoff of Ike Sewell's highly original 1943 invention ("deep-dish"), originally served at Uno®, or Rocco Palese's 1971 variation ("stuffed pizza"), originally served at Nancy's™. Careful writers will specify "Chicago-style deep-dish pizza" or "Chicago-style stuffed pizza."


                  3. jfood views Chicago pizza as stuffed pizza. A thin crust on the bottom, lots of good cheese and stuff in the middle (no sauce) then another thin crust on top and sealed arounf the edges. The sauce and grated cheese is placed on top of the second crust and baked.

                    The other two categories in the jfood pizza lingo is thin crust, which is pretty self explanatory and thick crust, also self-explanatory. In these two cases the dough is on the bottom and the sauce cheese and toppings are on top. The latter can also be called sicilian style.

                    so when jfood hears chicago pizza it's a stuffed pizza.

                    24 Replies
                    1. re: jfood

                      If by "thick crust" you're referring to Chicago-style deep dish, there's a very big difference between that and the Sicilian style one encounters in New York. And although stuffed pizza is also a Chicago specialty, it barely registers when I think of Chicago pizza. I wonder how many other people think "stuffed" when they think Chicago style.

                      1. re: jfood

                        You need to add about six other categories to your taxonomy if you want to avoid confusion.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          great word RL, gotta remember that for scrabble with the little jfoods. with triple word score that could be a major win.

                          being from NJ there were only two types, regular and sicilian, then deep dish was introduced to jfood in the late 70's when he lived in CHI. So keeping the taxonomy to a three-tired subdivision works best for him.

                          Now jfood is stilltrying to figure out what people mean by Greek-style.

                          1. re: jfood

                            Pizza Hut pan pizza is essentially greek style pizza.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Haven't seen any "Greek-style" pizza in the SF area.

                              Lots of pizza places have "Greek" topping combos for your standard pizza. They always have feta and usually spinach, plus other Greek items such as Kalamata olives, roasted eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and/or oregano.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                don't think that'swhat people are referring to, but a p izza made in a pizzeria lnamed Athenos, or Acropolis or another greek name. jfood used to eat pizza in georgetown from a greek named pizzeria while in college and it was a fond memory.

                                so trying to understand what someone might mean by that.

                              2. re: jfood

                                Here are my breakdown of the basic categories:

                                Thin crust - NY style pizza or any facisimile thereof

                                Deep dish - very buttery crust, cooked in a cast iron or other deep skillet with a dough that has risen. Think pizza hut.

                                Sicilian - Similar to deep dish but made in a square pan.

                                Chicago Style - Cookedin a deep dish but the base of the pizza is thin and rides up the side so it is almost looks like a quiche.

                                1. re: ESNY


                                  thanks for the four-prong versus three prong but you and jfood are still a little ships passing in the night. The Chicago style you have, does it have a crust on top? jfood was with you until you analogized to quiche. A stuffed Chicago pizza A la Giordanos and Lou's actually has two crusts like a pie.

                                  Another suggestion would be to be real careful going to soldier field and telling the bears fans that their chicago pizza is like a quiche.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Lou's only has one crust - it's a deep dish pizza. Crust is on the bottom, cheese, sauce. Stuffed pizza has the two crusts. Crust is on the bottom, layer of cheese, crust and sauce.

                                    Agreed that its nothing like a quiche. And please, Pizza Hut is not indicative of deep dish pizza.

                                    1. re: lbs

                                      to expand lbs, piuzza hut is not indicative of pizza, period.

                                      1. re: jfood


                                        I forgot that you were in Chicago so I take back my "Duh" comment down thread.

                                      2. re: lbs

                                        I gave examples for visuals. I wasn't saying chicago pizza is a quiche but was using it because that was the best I could come up with so people could visualize what the crust vaguely resembles. Relatively thin on the bottom with the crust running verticle up the side fo the pan.

                                        And of course there are other examples but those are the four basics in my book. And I will hold firm in my belief that california "pizza" is not pizza.

                                        And the Sicilian pizza I'm describing is what is called Sicilian pizza in NY/NJ, not the grandma style of pies.

                                        1. re: ESNY

                                          Yes ES, finally someone on jfood's side that california "pizza" is not pizza. tell the left coast to call it flatbread, pizza is as you and jfood have described.

                                      3. re: jfood

                                        Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (Uno and its imitators) has no top crust.

                                        Chicago-style stuffed pizza (Nancy's and its imitators, also baked in a deep dish) has a top crust.

                                      4. re: ESNY

                                        You're only missing half a dozen or so other styles, e.g., Neapolitan, Roman, American (medium crust), Greek, Cracker, California, Foccacia, to name a few.

                                        Also, Sicilian style is not buttery: at least authentic Sicilian isn't.

                                        1. re: mclaugh


                                          hlp please, what's greek pizza?

                                  2. re: jfood

                                    I thought you were more of an Uno's fan jfood?


                                    1. re: TexasToast

                                      hate uno's love giordanos. the dough has a nice sweetness to it. last week the office brought in about a dozen Lou minatti's(sic). this may be heresy to some but jfood thought the dough was tasteless and actually left some on the plate.

                                      please no jfood anti-lou bashing. it's considered the best by some and jfood may have had a bad batch and will try again, no worries.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        well if you got it flown in - then duh. Next time you come to Chicago, try the real thing. Lou's Malnati and Piazano's are my favorite of the typical Chicago deep dish.

                                        FWIW - I dislike Girordano's. For stuffed, I like Nancy's or Chicago's. Giordano's seems to over-stuff their pizza just for the sake of over-stuffing. With Nancy's or Chicago's, you don't feel as if you are eating a brick of melted cheese.

                                        And another FWIW - I would have to say the majority of Chicagoans eat thin crust.

                                        1. re: lbs

                                          I agree with your recs. lbs., I am not a fan of Giordano's at all.

                                          Also I agree the majority of Chicagoans prefer thin crust. Growing up we always had thin crust, Italian sausage(pronounced saaasage) & mushroom. That was, and is a "Chicago Style" pizza to me.

                                          It seems to me visitors to the city have determined that stuffed, or pan pizza is "Chicago Style"

                                          1. re: swsidejim

                                            I'm with you there. Between ages 4-14 I had deep dish only a handful of times. Square slices of thin crust, however, were pretty ubiquitous at school and parties while my mother was partial to stuffed spinach slices.

                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              My apathy towards pan, or stuffed pizza I believe is because I like to eat a "few" pieces of pizza when I have it, with a stuffed, or pan pizza I can typically eat only 2 pieces at most.

                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                Yep, thin for me as a kid and now. Square cut with the cute little triangle corner pieces.

                                                Not at all like East coast thin either.

                                                Man, I want pizza!

                                            2. re: lbs

                                              maybe thatexplains the little white styrofoam peanuts in between the sausage. :-)) duh right back at ya. jfood was on west monroe, sorry, he should have mentioned that. he use to bring back 2 Poppa-piizas from giordanos when he traveled to your great city every other week.

                                              being 1/2'way between nyc and new haven lots of good thins to choose from here so when in chi-town enjoy the brick, and it's a great description of the feeling.

                                              will have to try your other suggestions on his next trip.

                                              thanks for the suggestions.

                                      2. Why not try it and see whether you like it, no matter what it's called? It may be good or it may taste like crap, what it tastes like has little to do with a name.

                                        Refusing to eat something simply because of what it's named seems silly to me, sorry.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                          I agree that it's silly which is why it bothers me. But really, i am not a very adventurous person when it comes to junk food. I guess maybe i was hoping some of you would say so and so place makes yummy pizza and you should try it.

                                          after reading your answers, i asked myself why i had posted teh question. And really, i just want good deep dish pizza and was hoping someone would guide as to where i can find it outside Illinios and beyond the united states. It made me realize that agree with the above posts that the crust is very important as well as the placement of the cheese (in the middle). when you use regular crust in a deep dish pan, the result is often tragic. So, i guess my options would be to ask something like: do you use your regular crust for deep dish, and where doyou put your cheese?

                                          or, start some serious research to find a recipe i like...

                                          1. re: hala

                                            If you want a good place to start your research, check out the "Chicago Style" board at Pizzamaking.com.

                                            1. re: hala

                                              Ike Sewell's original deep-dish recipe has more oil, less yeast, and some cornmeal in the dough, so it's more like pie crust than regular pizza.

                                              Mozzarella slices are layered over the bottom, to seal the dough. There may be grated cheese in the middle or on top.


                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston


                                                The corn meal myth appears to have originated with Jeff Smith, aka "the Frugal Gourmet," who was trying to guess the origin of the golden color of the crust. Sewell himself denied—repeatedly—that the dough ever contained cornmeal.

                                                1. re: mclaugh

                                                  Maybe I'm misremembering. Evelyne Slomon interviewed Sewell and spent time in his kitchen when researching "The Pizza Book." I thought the recipe included cornmeal but maybe it was 100% low-gluten flour.

                                          2. Some pretty wild comments here, but some informative ones as well. I'm going to try and break it down as best as I can...

                                            First of all, out with the term "Chicago-style". We'll just say that term just means the best of any style in the country (smile). Actually, it can mean too many things, from cracker thin crust to pan to Neapolitan to deep dish to stuffed...even to the pot-pie like Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder restaurant.

                                            Ok, how would I break it down?

                                            In general, I would do it in 3 categories...thin crust, thick crust and deep dish. Here's my breakdowns...

                                            Thin...anywhere from the cracker crust of Vito & Nick's to the butter crust of Home Run Inn to the trendy Neapolitan places. This is where you're going to find 80% of the pizzas, even in Chicago.

                                            Thick...generally a breadier crust, not as crisp, and I think most Sicilian-style pizzas fall here as well as the "bakery" sheet pizzas.

                                            Deep dish...a category all its own with a relatively thin crust but it goes up the edges of the pan to hold the cheese and fillings/toppings (Uno/Due, Gino's East, Lou Malnati/Pizano's) . A subset of deep dish is stuffed crust, adding a 2nd layer, sometimes so thin you think it's a layer of cheese as it almost melts into the sauce (Giordano's, Nancy's, Bacino's). The deep dish category is most associated with "Chicago-style" by the majority of the country.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: RSMBob

                                              and jfood thanks you for describing his taxomony triptich list in much better terms than he did above.

                                              1. re: RSMBob

                                                "Chicago-style" as used anywhere outside of Chicago means deep-dish or stuffed. The term is also abused to mean any old pizza made in a pan.

                                                It does not refer to the other styles of pizza people in Chicago actually eat.

                                              2. i'm pretty lucky. when i want a chicago pie, i order one in chicago. same for a new york pie, neapolitan pie, roman pie, etc. even a goofy stamford hot oil pie.
                                                bottom line for me is that there's never enough pizza.