Make no mistake, there is no universally recognized list of top pizza restaurants in Chicago. This is probably one of the longest and most hotly contested food debates in the city. There is no clear number one, there are 100 different arguments for 100 different places and they would all be legitimate. But I have been given the task of making a top 5 list so I have created a diverse list of pizza places in the city that are great at what they do. Also, Chicago is no one trick pony, we do deep-dish great but that’s not all we have.
1 Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
Pizano’s is one of Chicago’s best kept secrets, the pizza can’t be beat. It’s popularity has risen since Oprah named it the best thin crust in Chicago and USA Today named it top 10 in the nation, and deservedly so. The owner comes from the Malnati bloodline so it’s no wonder they make amazing pizza. And just a warning, the thin crust is may be the most addictive thing you will ever eat.
Founded in 1974, Giordano’s may be the most famous pizza place in Chicago thanks to the popularity of its deep-dish pizza. But make no mistake, the thin crust is just as amazing and worth trying also. Giordano’s is the first place I would take an out-of-towner for an authentic deep-dish experience. And now that Chicago Bulls Superstar Derrick Rose has bought into the company I’m assuming it’s about to be even bigger. And I always like to urge people to call ahead because it takes about 45 minutes to make.
Let me start off by saying that this restaurant was not only a finalist for the Chicago Eater 2012 Restaurant of the Year, its chef, Chris Pandel, was named 2012 Chef of the Year. This place is the real deal. It’s not even really a pizza place, it’s an Italian restaurant that serves pizza, big difference. The wood-fired pizza has a perfectly soft and slightly sweet crust that is just a slice of heaven. And the proportions are great, not overly cheesy and the ingredients are balanced in each and every bite.
4 Chicago Pequod's
Founded by Chicago pizza legend Burt Katz over 30 years ago (he sold it in 1986 though), Pequod’s is a mainstay in the world of deep-dish pizza. What sets Pequod’s pizza apart is the caramelized crust, at first glance it looks burned, but it’s actually a thin layer of cheese that’s spread over the crust before cooking. It gives the crust a magnificent texture that just adds to the experience of eating the extraordinarily delicious pizza. Like with all deep-dish pizza, I urge you to call ahead, they usually take 40-45 minutes to make.
5 Roots Handmade Pizza
Even though the idea and recipe for this pizza comes from the Quad Cities, I still have to give it respect for being an amazingly different take on pizza. Using the freshest ingredients they can find Roots creates a delicious handmade pizza. They also use a dark-roasted malt for the crust, which gives it a more rich and complex flavor than traditional crusts.