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Deep Dish Debate

I don't know about you but watching Top Chef Chicago really inspired me to get some deep dish pizza for dinner since I'm in the area!

But what's your favorite? Uno's? Lou Malnati's? Giordano's? Gino's East?

I've tried all but Uno's and I'd have to say Gino's East is my favorite. But I do usually wind up at Lou's or Giordano's because they are the closest to me (in the suburbs).

Thoughts?

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  1. Gino's used to be my favorite, but nowadays Lou's is really making a comeback for me. I don't know if their crust changed, or I just had a few bad pizzas at my initial experiences, but I'm certainly loving everytime I get one. Giordano's, however, is an abomination. I took some friends there for their first taste of deep dish and had to hang my head in shame.

    1. As far as chains go:

      I hate Giordano's

      I Like Lou's, and Gino's

      But then again I am a New Haven Style Coal Fire guy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: swsidejim

        "As far as chains go:

        I hate Giordano's

        I Like Lou's, and Gino's

        But then again I am a New Haven Style Coal Fire guy."

        Yep. My thoughts exactly. I preferred Spacca Napoli to Coal Fire but for the money (BYO is great) Coal Fire wins.

      2. I rank them
        1) Lou's - Best crust
        2) Gino's - Best sauce
        3) Giordano's - Cheesier, which can be good and bad
        4) Uno's

        Though I have to say I like them all

        1. Lou's is the best in my opinion. Giordano's is bad. Gino's and Uno's are in the middle.

          1. Unos invented it. Unos and Due are the masters. Malnoti is a close second -- Lou broke off from the Unos/Due combo.

            Ginos and Giordanos aren't even in the same ballpark. Giordanos has more locations so more people know it. Ginos isn't bad pizza, it's jut not IMHO the real deal.

            1. Lou's---crust. What's interesting is that my wife and I find that, on average, the pizzas produced at the take-out locations are better made than the ones at the sit-down restaurants.

              1 Reply
              1. re: u.of.c. eddie

                I had to read that twice, ...eddie. Please say more about that and what restaurants you're talking about. The "Unos" franchises I my experience are an embarrassment next to what is served in the original (and Due) for that matter.

                My problem with take-out always seems to be the resulting soggy crust that can't always be distinguished from the cardboard box. One of the joys of Uno, Due and, for that matter, Lou's pizzas -- besides the fresh sausage and real tomatoes -- is the cripsy, corn-meal crust. but not sure they hold up for take-out.

              2. When working at IBM Plaza, we did many a lunch and pizza dinners after drinks at Uno's and Due's. For some reason, we always went to Uno's, so I actually prefer Uno's, but Due's was our choice if the Uno's line got too long.
                Agreed that Uno's chain is a big disappointment, ot even close to the originals,
                Giordano's, Lou's, and Gino's are ok in a pinch.

                1. More than a little puzzled by those claiming Giordanos is "bad" since they make stuffed pie not deep dish. Wrong category.

                  Agree with the assesment on Gino's East for best sauce and Lou Malnatis for best crust. I prefer the sausage at either over the other options.

                  9 Replies
                    1. re: citywayne

                      I recall seeing thin crust and stuffed on the menue but I don't remember deep dish. Giordano's is famous for stuffed pie.

                      http://www.giordanos.com/main.php

                        1. re: kittymanmohami

                          Yes they do... they just call it a stuffed pizza. It's a deep dish pizza.

                          1. re: citywayne

                            Stuffed and deep dish-NOT the same beast.

                            1. re: citywayne

                              My understanding is that deep dish is a single, thick crust in a deep dish pan with the cheese, tomatoes, sausage, etc. baked on top.

                              A stuffed pizza has two layers of crust with the accouterments both sandwiched between them and on top.

                              Giordanos has a stuffed pizza and a thin-crust pizza. No deep dish. There's even a Wickipedia entry that explains the difference and highlights Giordanos as the creator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago-...

                              1. re: chicgail

                                In a stuffed pizza, the cheese and added ingredients (stuff like sausage, mushrooms, etc - in this case, the word "toppings" is a misnomer) are indeed between the two crusts. However, the tomato sauce is on top of the top crust.

                              2. re: citywayne

                                Ok, now you got me questioning myself. I've had Giordano's stuffed pizza (I guess) and thought it was deep dish. I did not notice the extra crust. I'm outta the country right now, but will have to try it again (and pay attention) when I get back.
                                Thanks.

                                1. re: citywayne

                                  The debate rages on, not only as to which place is best, but to exactly what the tems deep dish and stuffed crust pizza mean. First of all, I am no expert but I view stuffed crust as a type of deep dish pizza. To me, a deep dish pizza is any type of thick pizza that's most commonly not eaten by hand but cut up and eaten with fork and knife. It commonly has the "sauce" on the top with cheese on the bottom (above the crust). The "stuffed crust" takes it one step further and puts a 2nd layer of dough above the cheese and toppings (or fillings to be more precise) with sauce above the 2nd "crust". The 2nd crust is often times not noticed or even mistaken for cheese because of its thinness and location.

                        2. Uno's and Due's have the same wonderful deep dish that I have not found to be replicated elsewhere in Chicago. More importantly,however, is the dining experience--sitting in the crowded little Uno's make the pizza taste even better!

                          I used to enjoy Gino's East for the atmosphere mostly. Haven't been there in years. I tried a suburban Gino's chain and it just did not make the pizza seem worth it.

                          I still rate Giordano's up there in the top three.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: reviewit

                            It is funny how people who have lived here a long time react to this question about deep dish and our best pizza restaurants. Here is my 2cents. I have been enjoying deep dish in Chicago since the 50's. Our number one favorite in the past was Dues and not Unos. I could not even give you a good answer as to why but we always loved Dues over Unos. A couple of years ago we had a dinner at Unos with relatives who had been out of town for a couple of years. Our opinion after the meal was that Unos was NOT the same Unos that we once knew. We even called over management and complained that the pizzza appeared to be different and not in a good way. But everyone in our party felt the same way with each pizza we ordered.

                            Not so with our experiences at Dues. So that is still our number one. Gino's East used to be much better that it appears today. I have not had one Ginos pizza in the last 5 years that tasted like the Ginos in the 70s or 80s or 90s. We think that the chain has gone down hill over the years.

                            Malnattis does produce excellent pizzas at their sit down restaurants. I like the one Wells and Hubbard. So I would recommend Dues first and Malnattis second. Good luck.

                          2. Absolute number one favorite - Giordano's stuffed pizza. Why? Because the middle is the perfect balance of crust, cheese, sauce, and added ingredients, combining for one absolutely delicious taste, and the edge crust is like the most delicious crusty bread I've ever eaten. Pure heaven in a pizza. Edwardo's and Bacino's are both similar and excellent, but I think the edge crust is so good that I give the "edge" to Giordano's.

                            I also like the pan pizza at Lou Malnati's, Pizano's, Gino's East, and the original Uno's and Due. Of these, I like Lou's the best because the bottom crust is the tastiest.

                            1. I have had deep dish at all of the ones mentioned, all have good and bad things about them.
                              Of those mentioned I like Uno and Lou's.
                              But the best Ive ever had is at a Pub, Exchequer Pub at 226 South Wabash. This was by far the best, I had to go back a number of times just to make sure lol.
                              Everyone that has gone with us said the same thing about it.

                              1. I'm SO glad this thread is going on right now, b/c I'm coming to Chicago this weekend and good pizza is at the top of my priority list. And I'm really happy that you guys clarified the deep dish v. stuffed distinction - that Wiki page was extremely helpful as well, so thanks to chicgail for posting that!

                                Based on what I've read of this thread, I'm planning to go to Lou's, Due or Uno's, and possibly Gino's if we're not pizza-ed out. I'm prioritizing deep dish over stuffed b/c deep dish seems to be the original Chicago treat, and I make a pretty good stuffed pizza at home anyhow. If anyone thinks that I should alter this plan in any way to get a better Chicago pizza experience, please let me know!

                                A question: is there a difference in quality between locations of these restaurants? I saw the discussion of how the Uno's franchises are not as good as the originals, and I noticed that Lou's has quite a few locations. Is there one in particular that I should go to, and/or are there any that I should be sure to avoid? Again, I'm planning to visit Lou's, Uno's or Due, and possibly Gino's

                                Another question: can someone explain the Uno's/Due relationship to me? I tried googling Due but all that kept coming up was the Uno's website, and I didn't see any sort of link to Due on their site. Are they the same restaurant?

                                Thanks!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Aloo0628

                                  >> If anyone thinks that I should alter this plan in any way to get a better Chicago pizza experience, please let me know!

                                  Your plan is fine. If you go to one of the single-crust "pan" pizza places and decide to try something else as well, then you might try a double-crust "stuffed" place.

                                  >> A question: is there a difference in quality between locations of these restaurants? I saw the discussion of how the Uno's franchises are not as good as the originals, and I noticed that Lou's has quite a few locations. Is there one in particular that I should go to, and/or are there any that I should be sure to avoid?

                                  I've tried multiple locations of Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, and Edwardo's, and I've found the quality to be very consistent. Non-original locations of Uno's are the big example to avoid. The one other example I've heard mentioned is Gino's East, where I've seen advice to avoid a couple of locations (O'Hare and Libertyville) which I have not personally tried.

                                  >> Another question: can someone explain the Uno's/Due relationship to me?

                                  Uno's is a chain whose original location, Pizzeria Uno at 29 East Ohio, opened in 1943. In 1955, they opened Pizzeria Due, their second location (as the name implies), a block away at 619 North Wabash. They are still both part of the Uno's chain - two locations, a block apart. I've heard people state that they could tell the difference in pizza between the two, but I haven't noticed it; in any case, they are extremely similar, if not identical.

                                  1. re: nsxtasy

                                    We have eaten at numerous Giordano's and found them to be very inconsistent. The Glen Ellyn & Darien/Countryside locations don't even come close to some of the others.

                                    I highly agree that Pizzeria Due is better than Uno's, although either is definitely top-notch!

                                    A couple more that have not been mentioned. We love Connie's stuffed spinach pizza... could devour one right now!! And My Pie on Clark has a great sausage deep dish (and we are not sausage eaters).

                                  2. re: Aloo0628

                                    Don't go to any Uno's other than the original one on Wabash. They don't do it the same. For example, they spread pieces of sausage instead of the big wall to wall sausage patty at the original.
                                    Going to Due's is just as good IMO as Uno's. We usually go to Uno's 1st and then to Due's if the list is too long.
                                    I've been to a couple of Lou's and they all seem to be the same. I prefer Uno's/Due's ... so go there 1st in the event you get pizza'ed out early.

                                  3. Love love love LOU MALNATI!!!!!!!!!!!! Uno/Due are good but Lou is the best IMHO.

                                    As for stuffed pizza, I was thoroughly unimpressed by Giordano's. Oddly enough, my favorite stuffed pizza is from Pizza Capri (I know, blasphemy, but I love their sauce). They also have excellent grilled calamari and salads.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                      Have any of you had a deep dish from the Exchecer Pub? It's on S. Wabash.

                                      I have had Deep Dish at all the places named and like them all for one reason or another, and have had some really good ones form Uno.
                                      But I and the others with us thought the Deep Dish from the Exchecer Pub was one of the best ever.

                                    2. First the good positive news.

                                      Jfood loves the Giordano's crust and whether it is the stuffed pizza or the thin crust this is what he ate in the late 70's and he brought plenty home in the 80's on American (that's when they actuall flew the Chicago -NJ route) whenever he needs a little re-dosage he wanders over and grabs a small sausage and pepper. Like everything else, it is not as perfect as he remembers but it is still a strong 9 on the jfood scale..

                                      Now onto the sacrilege:

                                      Lou Malnati's - Jfood ate LM Pizza for the first time a few weeks ago when all sorts of varieties were delivered to the office for a working lunch. The stuffed/deep dish was inedible, and jfood understands that is a strong word. But, he actually threw it out after one bite. The crust was tasteless, the tomatoes were horrible tasting and it was just awful. The thin crust was a little better and after sitting on the table for five hours actually tasted better.

                                      So jfood is clearly in the Giordano's camp.

                                      BTW - there was a pizzeria in a strip mall around S. 55th in Hyde Park in the late 70's that made the absolute best sausage pizza for a neighborhood place.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jfood

                                        >> Lou Malnati's - Jfood ate LM Pizza for the first time a few weeks ago when all sorts of varieties were delivered to the office for a working lunch. The stuffed/deep dish was inedible

                                        "Stuffed" pizza refers to pizza with two crusts: a bottom crust, above which sits the cheese and added ingredients (e.g. sausage, mushrooms, etc); above the cheese sits a top crust, and the tomato sauce is on top of that.

                                        Lou Malnati's does not sell stuffed pizza. Their deep-dish pizza is a single-crust pizza; I assume this is what you're referring to. (They also sell a thin crust pizza.)

                                        1. re: nsxtasy

                                          jfood wanted to get the point across that jfood tried both "fat" and "skinny" pizzas and neither tickled his fancy as much as giordano's. personal taste

                                      2. IMHO, Giordano's shouldn't even be on this list, as they serve stuffed pizza, which is not the same thing as deep dish. They are completely different styles of pizza. Am going back home to Chicago for a visit this week, so would be interested to know how Gio's has progressed over the years since I've been gone as it used to be my favorite place for stuffed pizza. For me, it's all about the stuffed pizza. Crust has always been an afterthought, and sometimes not even worth bothering to eat.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: FoodieKat

                                          I will respectively disagree...I think Giordano's (and Nancy's, Bacino's, etc) stuffed crust is a subset of "Chicago-style deep dish". I think the bottom line is that it's a crust that goes up the side of a deep pan, cheese (usually sliced) on the bottom, then the toppings (or in this case fillings), followed by a thick or chunky tomato-based sauce (with a dusting of cheese or oregano on top sometimes). The stuffed crust just adds a thin layer of dough above the fillings and below the sauce. Often time it is not even discernable, and it is sometimes mistaken for cheese.

                                          1. re: RSMBob

                                            I agree. Stuffed pizza, with its double crust, is one very popular local style of Chicago deep-dish pizza, since it was introduced in the early 1970s by Nancy's and Giordano's. Single-crust pizza ("pan" pizza) is the other popular type of Chicago deep-dish pizza, as served at Lou Malnati's, Gino's East, Pizano's, Uno's (stick to the original location, founded 1943) and Due, etc. Some people prefer one, some prefer the other, but both styles are authentic deep-dish Chicago pizzas with a long history here and available at many locations throughout the city and suburbs.

                                            The crust is an integral part of any pizza. IMHO what makes the very best deep-dish pizzas so good - and this applies to both popular styles - is the balance between the crust, cheese, tomato sauce, and added ingredients (meats, vegetables, etc). All of these must be top quality, and the way they combine to form a single dish is what makes the best ones great.

                                            1. re: nsxtasy

                                              I wasn't disputing the fact that both deep-dish and stuffed pizzas are authentically Chicagoan, just the fact that they are virtually one and the same. To me, they're quite different beasts. Stuffed is more like a pie, with layered cheese, toppings and sauce. All the toppings, sauce and cheese are placed on the top of a deep-dish pizza. Everyone's got a preference. Mine is for stuffed pizzas, especially from Giordano's and Edwardo's.

                                            2. re: RSMBob

                                              I agree with you as well, RSMBob. I'm confused by the claim that Giordano's is a rather different beast. FoodieKat's explanation clarifies a bit but I'm still perplexed.

                                          2. I vote Pequod's on Clybourn!
                                            2207 North Clybourn.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: browntowner

                                              If we're talking strictly deep dish then my list is as follows
                                              1) Lou Maknati's
                                              2) Gino's East
                                              3) Gulliver's
                                              4) Pequod's
                                              If we add stuffed to the mix
                                              1) Lou Malnati's
                                              2) Nancy's
                                              3) Gino's East
                                              4) Gullivers
                                              5) Pequod's
                                              6) Giordanos

                                              1. re: HungryZ

                                                You need to go to Burt's Place in Morton Grove.

                                                Go.

                                                1. re: gleam

                                                  Second Burt's Place. It's terrific. Don't miss it.

                                                  1. re: gleam

                                                    What's the deal with Burt's Place? Is there a link between Burt's and the other more talked about deep dish places? In other words, does the owner have any association with Uno's, Lou's, or Giordano's?

                                                    1. re: u.of.c. eddie

                                                      No. However, he is associated with two other Chicago-area pizza places. In the 1970s, Burt founded Gulliver's, and then after he left there, founded Pequod's. But not the other ones you mentioned, at least not AFAIK.

                                                      Personally, I am not a fan of Burt's Place - not the pizza with its burnt crust, and not the dingey decor. There are also lots of horror stories, people showing up only to be told that he has run out of ingredients, and other service-related problems. If you like the burnt crust style, I think Pequod's does a better job (their sauce is a lot more full-flavored, for example). But the burnt crust is a turn-off for me, regardless. I still vastly prefer the big chains, especially Giordano's but also Edwardo's and Bacino's for the stuffed style, and Lou Malnati's and the original locations of Uno and Due downtown for the pizza in the pan style.

                                                      Incidentally, it's nice to hear from you again, Eddie; it's been a while! I always enjoyed your posts and still refer back to your review of croissants around the area. Welcome back!

                                              2. Hey there Chicago Hounds - Got back from my first trip to Chicago a few days ago from my son's boot camp graduation. I earlier wrote a post asking for recommendations in that regard. Anyway, in doing the touristy things after graduation, we did the Sear's Tower Skyplaza thing and I noticed Giordano's right across the street. Since I recognized the name from answers to my post, we decided to stop in since it was close and everyone was really hungry and my newly graduated sailor wanted pizza. Got a large stuffed Pep and Sausage, and a medium thin crust special for my wife and I, two teen girls and starving19 year old sailor. I gotta tell you, the stuffed pizza was absolutely fantastic. Granted, the Pacific Northwest is not "pizza country" like NY or Chicago, but every one of us considered it the best pizza we've ever had. Not so much for the thin crust, however. My son will be in corpman school at GL for the next 14 weeks and plans on going back to Giordano's as often as he can when he gets liberty. So count me in as a huge Giordano's fan.

                                                1. Exchequer on Wabash is the best. And many people do not even know about it and probably pass it every day.

                                                  1. No one has so far mentioned my favorite, Edwardo's. Same ownership as Gino's East, but not the same pizza.

                                                    1. I don't get to Chicago as often as I'd like, but the last time we were there we had a pizza at Oven Grinders on Clark Street. Does that count as pizza? We loved it. We also had Uno's and Giordano's on that trip.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: osu82

                                                        Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. has been there since the 1970s. I would consider it "pizza" but that's strictly a matter of semantics and definitions. As a matter of food, their "pizza pot pie" style is unique; at least, I'm not aware of anyplace else that does it that way. I'm not particularly fond of it, but hey, it's one more option, and the more options people have, the better! www.chicagopizzaandovengrinder.com