We all have an angle, a perspective at which we view the world. Our upbringing, our geography, our family and friends all shape the way we see things…and what pizza we like! Because we all like pizza.
No Deep Dish
You may know by now that I am a Jersey girl. But I’ve also lived in Chicago nearly as long as I lived in New Jersey. But, after 20+ years of living in my favorite city, I am still sorry to report that: I do not really like Chicago deep dish pizza. Sorry, but it’s true. But like I said above, sometimes it’s mostly just about the nostalgia of the pizza you grew up eating…and just better pizza! Ha. Ha.
**BUT, please take note, and this is very important…
This does not mean I don’t like pizza made in Chicago. Au contraire.
Chicago’s Best Thin Crust Pizza
There are many more kinds of pizza to be had in Chicago. We have wonderful, wood-fired Neapolitan pies, New York Style, Southside, cracker-thin Tavern-style (cut into squares!) and even Roman pizza.
In fact, it’s a known fact that Chicagoans eat more thin crust pizza than deep-dish. Throughout the years, I’ve found that there is some darn tasty pizza to be had in this Midwestern city if you know where to go. So…here is where you should find Chicago’s best thin crust pizza! Mangia!
This is my favorite Neapolitan-style pizza in Chicago. Perfectly cooked, wood-oven pizza with a thin, salty crust and fresh toppings like prosciutto and arugula. It’s well-known for it’s authenticity and respect for the art of pizza making. The oven was built by third- and fourth-generation artisans from Napoli and the dough mixer also comes from Italy. I also love that it’s deep in the neighborhoods of Chicago (and also just a ten minute walk from my apartment) making it feel even more like a hidden gem. Oh, and the mayor also lives a block away.
1769 W Sunnyside Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Forno Rosso Pizzeria Napoletana
This one is just behind Spacca Napoli in my opinion. Great crust, fresh toppings, all done in a wood fired oven in just a couple of minutes. The original location is a bit far on the very northwest side of the city (almost to O’hare). There’s a newer location in the trendy West Loop. Either way, worth the schelp!
1048 W Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607
3719 N Harlem Ave.
Chicago, IL 60634
It’s bigger than New York’s Eataly at 63,000 square feet and has 23 eateries, retail departments, classroom space, and a fine dining restaurant (Baffo). The downtown Chicago juggernaut of Italian food really does everything well. So of course their pizza, cooked in 90 seconds in the flashy gold-tiled oven, is top notch. Get the margherita. It tastes like the real deal. Salty fresh mozzarella, rich tomato sauce, charred crust. You can’t go wrong.
43 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
Pizzeria Bebu (temporarily closed)
Oh, I kinda love this place. It’s newer with a modern interior and nice little sidewalk patio. The pizza is a bit more progressive than some of the traditional Neapolitan pies mentioned above, but oh, so good! They have great combinations of toppings that skew a bit more unique. Plus my favorite part is they allow you to do ‘half and half’ so you can try two different types of pizzas in one. There are also some nice salads and beer and wine. Simple and delicious. Highly recommend.
1521 N Fremont St,
Chicago, IL 60642
Don’t let the sports bar feel fool you. These guys know what they are doing. Crisp, with just a bit of char, these pies are baked at 800 degrees in their brick oven, bringing a slice of Neapolitan/New York style pizza right to your table. It’s an easy place to drop in, meet friends, have a cold beer and just damn good pizza.
1708 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
The famous Roman pizza place from Gabriele Bonci opened it’s first (and second) locations outside of Italy right here in Chicago. The crust is a bit thicker, but has wonderfully airy pockets like a nice ciabatta. And oh, the toppings! There are some amazing toppings like squash and ricotta and prosciutto and arugula. The beauty of it all is that you pay by weight! So you can get some small slices cut and try many different varieties.
161 N SANGAMON STREET, CHICAGO, IL 60607
Coming to you from the Scott Toth at Pizza Serio, this tiny joint in Wicker Park is making small batch pizza with 12-hour slow-rise dough. Plus a bonus! They are also making bagels with this same dough, so you can get lunch and then take half a dozen bagels to go. Full disclosure: I have been inside here, but have not actually tried the pizza…yet! I will be back.1252 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 442-7238 craftpizzachicago.com
In Wicker Park and now a brand new one opening up in my neighborhood of Lakeview on Southport Avenue, Coal Fire has caught on like…well, coal fire! They serve what they call an American spin on the traditional Neapolitan style pizza: A thin crust that emerges slightly charred and bubbly from their 800 degree oven fueled by clean burning coal. They’re consistently on top Chicago pizza lists and have even been named one of the top fifty pizzas in America!
1321 W Grand Ave,
Chicago, IL 60642
This is not your jump-in-for-a-slice corner pizza joint. Stella Barra is a destination, a place to go out for the night. Whether you want to eat inside in the dark industrial, cool space or out back on the quieter, pretty patio, you can’t go wrong with the artisan pizza here. Try the mushroom, margherita, or a surprise favorite to me…fennel. Delizioso!
1954 N Halsted St,
Chicago, IL 60614
No Frills New York Pizza
And for a taste of home, there are a few New York pizza joints here in Chicago. My favorites: Luigi’s on Clark street, Jimmy’s Pizza and Beignets on Lincoln, and Gigio’s on Broadway in Uptown. All are no-nonsense, big fat, floppy New York-style pizza. Salty, gooey cheese, with a just a touch of sauce. Mmm, tastes like home. My other home.
What if You Want to Stay Home?
Since pizza is so popular (it’s one of the all-time favorite foods in America), it’s also a top choice for parties and get togethers. How about showing off a little by making your own pizza at home? There are many ways to cook your own pizza, but one of the most popular is wood-fired because of the smoky, charred flavor. Apart from a wood-fired oven, a gas pizza oven is now gaining popularity. These pizza ovens use a gas burner which can provide the same results as wood-fired ovens.
Home cooks and pizza lovers are liking the Gas Pizza Oven. Made of insulated stainless steel, refractory floors, and “cotto” firebricks handcrafted in Rome, these incredible gas pizza ovens can be used in either home or commercial settings.