Chicago-Style “Deep Dish” Pizza

Surprise, surprise…we’re talking about food again! As y’all know, we like to eat local specialties on our journey. So during our weekend visit to Chicago, we picked up a Chicago-style pizza from Giordano’s to give it a taste.

What Is Chicago-Style Pizza?

The term “Chicago-style pizza” is typically used in contrast to another city-specific term for pizza: “New York-style pizza”. What often follows is heated argument about which city makes the better pie and which pizzeria in each city holds claim to having the best pizza.

So perhaps, we should discuss New York-style pizza too, just to setup the contrast between the two. If you know your pizza, nothing here will be new to you. New York-style pizza:

is known for its large, wide, thin and foldable shape. The traditional toppings were tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, with any additional toppings placed with the cheese. It is traditionally hand-tossed and light on sauce. … The most notable difference between New York style and other American pizzas is its thin hand-tossed crust, made from a high-gluten bread flour. … New York pizzerias generally have condiments that can be added to the pizza after serving. Common condiments include oregano, grated Parmesan cheese, dried red chili pepper and granulated garlic.

Okay, so New York-style is a gigantic slice of pizza, often from an 18″ pie split into 8 slices. It’s floppy, it’s flimsy, it’s foldable. What is Chicago-style pizza? It’s basically the opposite of that.

The pizza begins with a thick layer of dough made with olive oil and cornmeal laid into a deep round pan and pulled up by the sides, then parbaked before the toppings are added, to give it greater spring; the pan is oiled heavily in order to create a fried effect on the outside of the crust. The crust is covered with cheese (generally sliced mozzarella) and meat such as ground beef, chicken, and pepperoni, usually in a solid layer or patty, just above the crust. Italian sausage (a Chicago staple), as well as vegetables such as onions, mushrooms and bell peppers are also used. A sauce, usually uncooked, made from shredded or puréed tomatoes is added.

Chicago-style pizza is thick, dense, and far from foldable. You’ll probably need a fork and it’s unlikely you’ll be gnoshing this while you walk down the street like you can a foldable New York-style slice. A slice or two will slay most appetites. A 14″ pizza will usually feed 4 people, possibly with leftovers.

The Stuffed Pizza – Another Chicago-Style

While the deep dish pizza described above is the standard for Chicago, it’s not the only style created there. Giordano’s created a variation on the standard deep dish called the Stuffed Pizza. So how do they make that? Basically, they take a deep dish to new levels.

Stuffed pizzas are often even deeper than deep-dish pizzas, but otherwise, it can be hard to see the difference until it is cut into. A stuffed pizza generally has much deeper topping density than any other type of pizza. As with deep-dish pizza, a deep layer of dough forms a bowl in a high-sided pan and the toppings and cheese are added. Then, an additional layer of dough goes on top and is pressed to the sides of the crust.

Get Your Own

So you’re going to Chicago and want to get a pizza. We can’t blame you. Chicago and pizza go together like peanut butter and jelly. Since we’ve only had the pizza from Giordano’s (and Scott had pizza from Pizzeria Due), we can’t weigh in on who in Chicago has the best pizza. But from researching and asking around, here are the suggestions we have for the places to check out.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Much like the Philly Cheesesteak, Chicago-style pizza is everywhere in the big city. You can’t go wrong with trying 1 or 5 or all of them that you come across.

The Verdict

While you’ll never get agreement on this matter from the general public, and while we mostly agree with the sentiment that “there’s no such thing as bad pizza,” we have to go with the Chicago-style pizza over the New York-style. We prefer the deep, thick, buttery crust overflowing with toppings to the thin, foldable slices of New York. We won’t complain if you invite us to a pizza party with either though.

Sound off! What’s your favorite style of pizza? Which pizzeria makes your favorite?