Best Pizza in Chicago from Deep-Dish Pizza to Thin Crust

There are few foods more classic to Chicago than Deep-Dish Pizza, and there are a lot of restaurants to find it (and therefore many opinions about it). If you think there’s a rivalry between White Sox and Cubs fans, try asking people to name the best pizza restaurant in Chicago! There’s no definite answer, so here are our picks for the Best Pizza places in Chicago (plural)!

  1. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – Keeping it In the Family
  2. Giordano’s – The Next Level
  3. Gino’s East – Next Stop on the Journey
  4. Pizzeria Uno – The One that Started It All
  5. Exchequer Restaurant & Pub – Pizza with a Side of Mafia
  6. Pequod’s Pizza – Not Burnt, Caramelized
  7. Bongiorno’s Cucina Italiana & Pizzeria – Cool It with the Deep Dish!

Best Chicago Pizza Restaurants— Deep-Dish, Thin Crust and Classic Chicago Food Tours

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – Keeping it In the Family

Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Rudy Malnati’s son Lou learned the ins and outs of pizza making at Pizzeria Uno, and in 1971, Lou opened up his own joint: the eponymous “Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.” They’ve been sourcing their fresh mozzarella cheese from the same Wisconsin dairy farmer for over 40 years, and at every tomato harvest, they travel to California to select the crop in person. One of the most popular orders at Lou Malnati’s is their sausage pizza, which layers the bottom with a sausage patty so that every bite has an even amount of sausage. Giving back to the community is also important to Lou’s, and the Lou Malnati Cancer Research Foundation has raised more than $4 million to help find a cure.

Giordano’s – The Next Level

In 1973, Giordano’s took deep-dish pizza to the next level by turning it into a stuffed pizza. Yeah, that’s right; deep dish pizza became even more extra. They add an extra layer of bread above the cheese and below the tomato sauce, turning the pizza into a sandwich of sorts. And that means for the 45 minutes it takes to cook, that top layer of bread marinates in the succulent flavors of the tomato sauce. Surprisingly, this extra layer actually makes the pizza easier to eat than its non-stuffed counterparts!

Gino’s East – Next Stop on the Journey

   

With the success of Pizzeria Uno’s famous Chicago pizza, Alice Mae was a chef in high demand. In 1966, she joined the newly opened “Gino’s East” where she stayed for twenty-three years until retiring. If you’re vegan, you can still get the deep dish experience at Gino’s East with a nut-free, vegan cheese. In addition to pizza, Gino’s operates its own craft brewery that has won four awards from the U.S. Open Beer Championship, including the gold medal-winning Lasalle St Lager.

Pizzeria Uno – The One that Started It All

   

Before 1943, Chicago pizza was flat. Oftentimes eaten at taverns, it was crispier than a New York-style pizza and cut into rectangles for easy sharing. But in 1943, while Casablanca ignited movie screens across America, Alice Mae Redmond and Rudy Malnati ignited a new type of pizza at Pizzeria Uno: deep dish. This three-inch-thick pizza gave new meaning to the term pizza pie and heralded the next generation of pizza innovation. If you’re looking to experience the original deep dish, or if you think that modern-day cinema doesn’t hold a candle to Citizen Kane, Pizzeria Uno is the locale for you. 

Exchequer Restaurant & Pub – Pizza with a Side of Mafia

Exchequer doesn’t mess around when it comes to Chicago pizza. In 2019, they ranked as the 6th best Chicago-style pizza in the state of Illinois. Less than five minutes away from the Art Institute of Chicago, Exchequer is the perfect place to relax after an afternoon of browsing the Monets. Before it was Exchequer Restaurant & Pub, this location used to be a speakeasy frequented by Al Capone, and remnants of that time still exist there! 

Pequod’s Pizza – Not Burnt, Caramelized

If you’re the person who loves the corner brownie, then Pequod’s Pizza is the joint for you. They’re known for the ring of caramelized crust that encircles the pizza, an effect caused by the way they layer their mozzarella cheese. Their pizzas are highly customizable, and unlike Lou Malnati’s thin layer of uniform sausage, the sausages that adorn a Pequod’s pizza are spread out and voluminous.

Bongiorno’s Cucina Italiana & Pizzeria – Cool It with the Deep Dish!

We spent a lot of time talking about deep-dish Chicago pizza because it’s the classic Chicago pizza, but some of the best Chicago pizza places in the city know better than to underestimate a well-made, thin-crust pizza. Bongiorno’s Pizzeria has everything you’d want from a family-run Italian establishment: delicious Chicago pizza made from scratch, refreshing gelato, juicy Italian beef sandwiches, and a location right alongside the best view of the Chicago River. This gem of a restaurant is laidback and homey compared to other Magnificent Mile restaurants, and it has a loyal following of regulars.

Bobby’s Bike Hike – A Bit of Everything

   

Although not a Chicago pizza establishment, Bobby’s Bike Hike is the top-rated food, walking, and bike tour company in Chicago. Explore the city and taste all the classic Chicago foods (including deep dish pizza) on any of the popular Chicago Food Tours. 

7 Responses
  1. Malcolm Knox

    I’ve seen comparisons of Lou Malnati’s stuffed pizza, and, Giordano’s stuffed pizza. Some even said that Lou Malnati’s was better. NO WAY!!! Giordano’s buttery crust, sauce, and, sausage are far superior to Lou Malnati’s!!

  2. Rae Harvey

    As a native Chicagoan born & raised, exiled to the PROPER-pizza-less plains of Michigan and Indiana, I want to THANK YOU for addressing what every Chicagoan knows…true Chicago style pizza isn’t deep dish. That’s for the tourists. True Chicago pizza is thin crusted, sweetly sauced, fennel/caraway seeded sausage (if you like) and CUT IN PROPER SQUARES!!

    It comes from local holes in the wall in every neighborhood and burb throughout Cook county (and often beyond, now). Unless you’re looking for a fancy date night, which might lead you to a Giordano’s, an Aurelio’s, or (back in the 70s & 80s) a Nancy’s (Southside represent!)-type place. And then, maybe you’d order a deep dish…right alongside your thin crust. Leftovers FTW.

    I am so tired of hearing, “ooooohhhh, I love deep dish! I was in Chicago for _____ and we just had to stop at Lou Malnati’s and have that Chicago pizza experience!”

    Ugh…when did LM become anything but a tourist trap meant to overcharge the folks flooding to events at Mccormick Place & Navy Pier? Pretty sure the only time I ever at at LM was after attending Brother Rice’s prom with a friend of a friend who thought going there would impress me(???).

    I’d have been more impressed going to Ed Debevic’s for pricey burgers, at least that was fun decor & staff.

    Thankfully, we have cause to travel through town on our way to Minneapolis often enough that we can do the rounds of take-out and eat like kings for a week… bringing home a short stack of take-and-bake pizzas, a huge order of Brown’s Chicken (legs & thighs, plus 5lbs of mushrooms), and stopping at Jewel’s to grab a few tubs of italian beef, some sausages, and 4-5 bags of proper rolls.

    Absolutely the best part of ANY trip!

    I’m looking forward to digging through more of your articles…the two I’ve read so far have been entertaining and interesting! It’s nice getting a glimpse into the goings-on back home 😉