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Looking for Chicago-style Thin Crust

Hi there. My girlfriend and I recently moved to New Jersey from Chicago. One thing we desperately miss is what we call pizza (which apparently differs from the East Coast definition).

I am not referring to Chicago-style Deep Dish a la Giordanos or such. I have been pushed to Uno's in this respect, but it is far too different from anything we'd have in Chicago - granted it is closer.

I am looking for somewhere that has true Chicago-style Thin Crust... a good example would be Nancys or Giordanos Thing Crust. The crust is about two or three times thicker than 'New York style', and has richer toppings. Usually, it does not have a heavily risen crust - toppings are put to the edge and our crust is just the small amount that expands out from under it.

Does anyone have any suggestions? We haven't been able to stomach New York-style pizza... it just seems like thin cracker and grease to us (no offense).

A good example are these pictures:

Thanks in advance!

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  1. yuck!! those pics look soo bad!!! sorry!

    Anyway..maybe not what you want but... I happen to really like Denino's in Matawan/Aberdeen. The owner, Mike is so sweet and will definately make you happy! The chicken parm is great!!!! And at $ 11.95...you cannot go wrong!!!



    Denino's Pizza Place
    1077 State Route 34 Ste F, Matawan, NJ 07747

    2 Replies
    1. re: Angelina

      I like Denino's, but I wish they would add a little more zip to their pizza sauce.....I find it rather bland.....however, the crust is excellent.

      One thing worth noting. In all my years, I have rarely seen any meat topping pizza topped in the same fashion as in the pictures the Op has provided. The meat is never placed evenly or even in as much abundance...with the exception of Pizza Chains.

      1. re: Angelina

        Being born and bred in Chicago and residing there for 28 years before moving to NJ, I can look at those pics and drool! That is heaven on a pizza pan, and you just can't find pie like that around here! YUM! Thanks for posting! -mJ

      2. Pompei Pizza in Bayonne, NJ has a good thin crust pizza

        1. A bunch of places in north jersey serve something similar. Star, Kinchley's, Nellie's, etc.

          4 Replies
          1. re: tommy

            I like Nellie's a lot too, forgot about that place.

            1. re: tommy

              I like the pizza at Kinchley's......however, the *Garbage Pie* is one of the worst pizzas I have ever had.....too much for the crust.

              1. re: fourunder

                It would never occur to me to order such a thing. Although I did try at Star Tavern with the boys once. Never again.

                1. re: tommy

                  For me, when it comes to pizza......less is more. The garbage pie was was ordered on my very first visit decades ago and recommended by the server.....like you said...never again.

            2. Route 3 in Clifton has the chain Pizzeria Uno, which I believe serves that "pizza" with all the stuff in it, Chicago style. Never tried it, though. We Easterners have an aversion to this style of pizza, having grown up with a thin crust, cheese & sauce only version. But that's what makes horse races.

              5 Replies
              1. re: menton1

                The thin crust Chicago pizza to which the OP is referring is different than the deep dish stuff that you're likely referring to. Although the description in the OP is a bit confusing.

                1. re: tommy

                  Oh well, interesting that the OP hates NY Pizza, wonder if they've ever had the good stuff in the city, DiFara's, Patsy's, or the Trenton pies or the New Haven Pies...

                  Never been to Chicago, but even though their pizza looks gross, I would love to try the Chicago Italian Beef sandwiches with the "dip". Those look very appealing on TV...

                  1. re: menton1

                    Italian beef, spicy and wet, is probably one of my favorite sandwiches of all time. The pizza doesn't do much for me, but not much unlike NJ, I had 10 people tell me to go to 10 different places, and that all the others sucked. Although I only tried one, I'm assuming none are to my liking.

                    Related, the OP's definition of "new york style pizza" seems way off the mark. It's generally not a cracker style in the least.

                    1. re: tommy

                      OP needs an outing to Patsy's on the way-upper East side...

                    2. re: menton1

                      LOL @ the pizza looking gross! Ya'll are missing out here! Whether it be the REAL deep dish of Chicago at the original restaurants, or the thin crust, it is definitely something that I miss! Nothing like it, or even close on the East Coast. Hence the reason the original Pizzera Uno or Due is always a must stop when I go home!

                      And what I would do for Italian Beef and Vienna Beef hot dogs out here! Sad that I was down in San Antonio the last two months and could find them both there with no problem. Come on NJ! Make it happen! -mJ

                2. I'm thinking that the OP is NOT looking for NY/NJ thin crust pizza. He describes Chicago thin crust as being 2-3X as thick as this area's thin crust.

                  Being that Chicago deep dish has a very thick crust, perhaps what we call regular crust here is closer to what he is looking for when he says "thin" crust.

                  So instead of suggesting local thin crust like Star, Kinchleys and others, I'd go with suggesting the best regular pizzas.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: briansnat

                    Judging by the photos and the rest of the description I assume that the '2-3x' part of the description was a typo or inaccurate.

                    But if it's not then I have no idea what is being asked. The pictures show something close to a cracker style crust, not something even remotely as thick as a NY slice.

                    1. re: tommy

                      Yeah, I was going to suggest sicilian but am similarly confused about thickness.

                      1. re: tommy

                        It's thicker but is also cracker crust. We use the same dough for our thin crust as our deep dish, and it expands but hardens on the bottom.

                        1. re: Ameise

                          You're likely not going to find anything like that in NJ, other than Uno. The dough is the single most defining factor here to my mind, and you probably won't find places in NJ that use butter or lard.

                          I guess you'll have to either
                          1) go without pizza
                          or 2) learn to appreciate the many types of pizza that NJ offers.

                          Good luck.

                          1. re: tommy

                            Unfortunately, Uno doesn't use the right crust either. We've had Uno's... it just wasn't right.

                            1. re: Ameise

                              What part of the state do you reside....and/or, how far are you willing to travel.

                              1. re: Ameise

                                I don't know how old you are, but is the Pizza you are seeking reminiscent of a Frozen Pizza that used be be made by a company called *John's Frozen Pizza*, which was widely popular in the Midwest pre-80's

                        2. re: briansnat

                          I don't hate NY style pizza, and it predominates in NJ, but I do love Chicago-style pizzas. The dough is much different, regarless of the thickness. More buttery.

                          1. re: GraydonCarter


                            Haven't found anything like that in NJ, so the OP might be SOL. Our cracker crust style pizza is very much like a cracker. The thin crust that I've had in Chicago seems to be made from the same buttery/pastry dough that their deep dish pizza is. And they also seem to be topped more than our NJ cracker-crust style, unless you get it loaded with stuff.

                            I think the important difference here is how the dough is made, regardless of the thickness, as you suggest.

                            1. re: tommy

                              I think we also use a different kind of sauce. The seasonings on Chicago-style seem to be richer or different. The crust is definitely different... we've tried a few places and haven't yet found anything close. The NY Style isn't appealing to us because it doesn't have that 'hearty' feel, I suppose. The NJ Cracker Crust that we've found seems just as that... a cracker.

                              1. re: Ameise

                                The various styles of pizza found in NJ (and there are at least 4 off the top of my head), many of which are not "NY style," use different types of sauces within the confines of NJ.

                                You're better off making it yourself.

                            2. re: GraydonCarter

                              Try Patsy's Tavern in Paterson. The crust does have a "buttery" character and is thin crust.

                            3. re: briansnat

                              I have a difficult time even calling what OP is looking for as pizza. Call ME a snob...I know it. But overstuffed/topped to me is a casserole...NOT a pie in the NJ sense. Born & Raised - Exit 161

                            4. Maybe Federici's in Freehold? Been a while since I've had it, but I think it kinda falls into this category. No offense, but that first picture looks an awful lot like Domino's;)

                              14 E Main St, Freehold, NJ 07728

                              1. If you can find your way to Central Bergen County, there are two places that I know of who reportedly use Crisco or shortening in their dough. The end result for both is a softer crust, yet still crisp. One I believe is exactly what you are looking for, but they might not be as generous with the toppings as you have provided. The other is more in the Style of New York foldable slices

                                The place that makes the pizza crust with sauce and toppings reaching the edge is Tony G's Restaurant in South Hackensack. It's the reincarnation of a family pizza business that used to exist decades ago. Supposedly, the recipes are exact and the same pizza makers were found and brought in at the original opening to duplicate the pizza. The original recipes were from a place on the other side of town, known as ( The Old Judge )...later purchased by the Giaquinto family and renamed t Giaquinto's Old Judge Tavern. The thing that set them apart were the special crust and the fact the sauce was the top layer, not the cheese. They also sliced the pizza differently....not in triangle slices, but rather one vertical cut , and then horizontal cuts into 2 x 4 inch strips, not quite the same as the small squares. Tony G....the G standing for Giaguinto is a family member.

                                This pizza is nearly identicle to the Pizza I used to get in Wisconsin.....if that helps.



                                The other place is Barcelona's in Garfield, Their crust is similar, but not as rich and (flaky?). They also do not bring the sauce and toppings to the edge like Tony G's does......but still, I recommend you try it. The place is a blast back in time. The owner refuses, or maybe more appropriately, does his best not to raise his prices and keeps them as low as he can to serve his community....which is low income/immigrants....but do not let that keep you away.



                                Tony G's
                                290 Huyler St, South Hackensack, NJ 07606

                                1. The Brothers in Red Bank makes the best thin crust pizza that I know of - love it!

                                  1. Another reason for major taste differences is the water. It even varies from NY and NJ. It affects the flavor of the dough, as well as texture. There are a couple of pizza places in LA that transport NY water to make their pizza dough.

                                    It's even more apparent in bagels, NY water is being advertised at many bagel places across the country as being "made with NY water".

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: menton1

                                      The water in Chicago vs NJ has nothing to do with the differences in the crust. Of this you are assured.

                                      1. re: tommy

                                        Not sure I agree. They have had blind taste tests in mags showing marked flavor differences in pizza dough with various city waters across the country. (Or are you distinguishing crust from dough?)

                                        1. re: menton1

                                          The difference between the crust (dough) of a Chicago style pizza and that of what you might find in NJ goes far beyond any difference in the taste of water (which, clearly, tastes different in various parts of NJ as it is).

                                          1. re: tommy

                                            This was fought about here as well:


                                            Certainly this guy (or his patrons) believe that NY water makes a difference:


                                            1. re: tommy

                                              I agree that, taste and texture-wise, Chicago pizza crust is more “pastry-ish.” I have never, however, seen a recipe for dough calling for butter or shortening nor have I ever heard of anyone admitting to using anything but olive oil. I have noticed the use of cornmeal.

                                              Similarly, I do not buy the “Olympia beer” explanation.

                                              Edit: Actually, I stand corrected. Here’s one:


                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                All call for some sort of lipid, and to a greater extent than NY style. Corn or olive oil is what you'll normally see, perhaps because that's what people have at home.

                                                Not sure what restaurants are doing for that lipid component, however.

                                                1. re: tommy

                                                  Someone mentioned a place that uses Crisco. Yuk! The stuff even looks poisonous... And it's gotta have trans fats to get to that solid form, right?

                                                  1. re: menton1

                                                    I believe Crisco is used in baking quite a bit. I use it for fried chicken, where I feel it is unmatched.

                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                      I saw a show where they used some lard for frying chicken. Probably even better...and lard doesn't have stuff like "dimethyl silicone" and other goodies.

                                                      I believe most French baguettes are made with no "lipids" whatsoever...

                                      2. Ameise
                                        I can really relate to your post having grown up on the north side of chicago. I still crave Tonelli's (glenview) sausage and onion pizza. Sadly, I heard that they closed a few years back not having any family members that wanted to continue the business. Ive lived in Mass and now Northern NJ for many years and you are right, pizza is just different here. the spice in the sausage, crust...mmm. sorry I can't help you, this has been my quest as well since moving here, but if you find something, I really hope you will post.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jhk4

                                          I remember Tonelli's well. Growing up in Barrington however, the best was always Charlotte's located at Ela Road and Northwest Highway (Route 14). By far the best pizza I remember! I still however love Village Pizza in Dundee on Route 25, as well as The Pizza Factory in Barrington, and Primo Pizza in Barrington! All are wonderful! -mJ

                                          The Pizza Factory
                                          7 Cross St, Madison, NJ 07940

                                        2. Have you tried Sicilian-style pizza? The crust may be thicker than you're looking for, but it's all over the place in South Jersey and has the square-cut slices in your second picture (though in this case it's because the pizza itself is a square). It's definitely not a cracker crust, or a deep dish, if you're trying to avoid both of those!

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: Tapas52

                                              That's Lou Malnati's, and not bad in the least for a little fix! I've ordered from there on many ocassions in times of desperation. -mJ

                                          1. Sun Tavern in Scotch Plains is my choice for thin crust pizza. There are a few other locations for Sin Tavern, however, the one on South Avenue is the only one I've been to. We love the mushroom and eggplant pizza. Give it a try...

                                            Sun Tavern
                                            600 W Westfield Ave, Roselle Park, NJ 07204