Best deep dish and/or stuffed pizza in Chicago?
October 16, 2007 9:04 PM   Subscribe

What are the best chicago-style deep-dish and/or stuffed pizzas? I need recommendations from people who have tried the major contenders. I've tried the Pizzeria Uno chains (I know--supposedly much worse than the original) and thought them mediocre. I've also mail-ordered Lou Malnati's and thought it good but not great. Any ideas for the most ecstatic pizza experiences I'm yet to have?
posted by shivohum to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by rlef98 at 9:09 PM on October 16, 2007

I hate pizza, but my family loves it.

Your "big" options are:
- Uno's
- Giordano's
- Gino's
- Lou Malnati's

I wouldn't discount Lou's if you haven't had the real thing in the restaurant. They're my family's favorite.

I have coworkers who debate about Giordano's vs. Lou's. These days, Gino's seems not to come up much in conversation but when I was a kid, I always thought it was viewed as the King of Chicago Pizza...
posted by twiggy at 9:12 PM on October 16, 2007

I always preferred Giordano's stuffed spinach, myself, but asking a Chicagoan their favorite deep dish is like asking a Philly person to choose Pat's or Geno's - you're going to get a big fight over this, so the only think you've got to do is try them all out!

Oh, and they have mail-order, if you're not in the area, but nothing can compare to the freshly baked, piping hot variety.
posted by i less than three nsima at 9:13 PM on October 16, 2007

People swear by My Pie but I've found the service very spotty. I think the family that owns the place employees their kids or something so you tend to get, "Whatever, I'm just doing this until I leave for college," type service...

Personally I like Pequod's pan piazza, but it's not traditional Chicago style...

Out of habit I take people to Pizzeria Uno (or Duo) in downtown as I think it's all around a nicer experience than Giordano's and some of the other mafioso sounding places... but I agree the chain's kind of suck.
posted by wfrgms at 9:14 PM on October 16, 2007

OK, as a life-long Chicagoan, I'll give my opinion.

Deep dish means you need to taste it fresh from the kitchen in a restaurant. The frozen versions aren't very good. Chicago style deep dish is really more of a casserole type thing, and doesn't keep well. Leftover, it's OK, but nowhere near as good as fresh.

IMO, Lou Malnati's and Edwardo's are both really good. Gino's has become a giant tourist attraction, though I can't attest to the quality of their food these days.

Actually, I (and many other Chicagoans) actually think that Chicago thin crust is the way to go. More brittle than the chewy New York style (which I also love) and it's cut into squares. Pat's Pizza on south Clark (near Polk) is a good example of this style.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:15 PM on October 16, 2007

Seconding Pequod's.
posted by spec80 at 9:16 PM on October 16, 2007

Chicago-born California transplant here. I mail order Lou's and have a "Chicago Pizza Party" every so often. My friends come over and marvel at the wonderful pizza, and I generally have a good time.

But as the night winds down, I usually find myself sadder than I started, because I can't help but realize that the mail-order experience is but a mere shadow of the glory of a fresh-from-the-oven pizza.
posted by IvyMike at 9:20 PM on October 16, 2007

You say you've mail-ordered Malnatti's, so you're obviously not in Chicago. Are you looking for recommendations to try when you visit the city? Or pizzas available where you live/by mail? I'll assume the former for my answer.

Probably the best deep dish in Chicago (within city limits, that is) is Pequod's -- it's a little different from the traditional Uno's/Malnatti's style, in that it's got a caramelized cheese-coated crust. But it's very tasty.

If you're downtown and not able to get out to the neighborhoods, I'd recommend Due's, which is the sister store to the original Pizzeria Uno. It's less crowded than Uno's, and the pizza is good. For stuffed, find a Giordano's -- it's a slightly different pie, and they're probably the most consistent.

I see that you also asked at LTH Forum; good call.
posted by me3dia at 9:20 PM on October 16, 2007

Due and Uno in the original. Giordanos, of course. But you gotta go there.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:28 PM on October 16, 2007

I've had Malnatti's and Giordano's, and I definitely prefer the latter. They're both great, but G's is seriously kickass.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:46 PM on October 16, 2007

I will proclaim the greatness of Giordano's until my dying day.

And yes, it's better in the city.
posted by kyleg at 10:05 PM on October 16, 2007

Giordano's stuffed spinach is one of the best things I know to eat. I've thought about ordering it but I know nothing will compare to the 50 minute wait for that warm, salty, tangy, cheesy, doughy, crisp edged slice of heaven.
posted by MiffyCLB at 10:06 PM on October 16, 2007

Odering it out of state I meant... caught up in pizza haze...
posted by MiffyCLB at 10:07 PM on October 16, 2007

Giordano's is an easy-to-find option on the stuffed front and a pretty accessible pizza as well. Flaky, buttery crust with a work-horse sauce. All-around goodness if you're in a melted-brick-of-cheese kind of mood. I'll also suggest it with pepperoni and pineapple (never have understood why folks insist on pairing slimy ham with delicate pineapple) as the combo seems to play very well with the rest of the pie.

Keep in mind that certain restaurants do better with certain ingredients than others (although veggies outside of spinach seem to be a no-no); sausage can be especially hit or miss. Spinach or pepperoni are the safe choices in ordering a stuffed pizza.

I'll put in a veto on Due and Uno... Maybe it's because I've only been to either when they're packed and had a hard time focusing on the pizza, but even the originals have never really impressed. Although, incidentally, you can request your pizza to be true Chicago style at the Uno's chains and it'll be slightly better.

You'll hear about Gino's East, but I'll note that it's an acquired taste and is mostly interesting as a variant. It's got corn meal crust and a very sweet sauce. It's almost a cartoon-version of Lou Malnati's. If you're not after it specifically, it'll taste cheap.
posted by pokermonk at 10:17 PM on October 16, 2007

I LOVE stuffed crust pizza and for my money, Bacino's is by far the best. (and seconding (thirding?) the Spinach as the best *type* of stuffed. I used to think that Tedino's on the North side was number 2, but I haven't had it in years I believe they've changed owners a couple of times. The online reviews still seem to be good, however.

I don't like Gino's due to the aforementioned corn meal crust. Giordano's is a good workhorse of a pie. Due and Uno, I didn't like as much.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 10:26 PM on October 16, 2007

Pequod's Pequod's Pequod's. Honestly, I lived in chicago for 6 years and was a big time chowhound during that time. Tried all the placed mentioned above and many more, but Pequod's is the best IMHO.
posted by Bob Dobbs at 10:43 PM on October 16, 2007

If you're any kind of cook, and know what a Chicago stuffed/deep dish pizza is supposed to be like, it's surprisingly easy to make one yourself. The recipes in this cookbook are a good start. Experiment and make them your own.
posted by xil at 10:48 PM on October 16, 2007

I like seeing people vote Pequod's. I used to work near there and walked in on a whim. Apparently I chose wisely.

It is, indeed, fantastic.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:08 PM on October 16, 2007

If you're ever in the Detroit area, PizzaPapalis.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:11 AM on October 17, 2007

Seconding xil's cookbook recommendation.

Gino's East was my first Chicago-style pizza; I still like them better than Uno's or Lou Malnatti's. They're all awesome though, compared to the rubbish that passes for pizza in Oz.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:11 AM on October 17, 2007

Are you talking about in Chicago or anywhere? I think Edwardo's is heads above Pizzeria Uno. It is by far the best stuffed pizza I've had.
posted by JJ86 at 5:49 AM on October 17, 2007

Have you people never been to Gulliver's on Howard?

shivohum, clearly you need to plan a visit. A visit where you will eat nothing but deep dish.

(If we're throwing in our hats for thin crust, I'm going to vote JB Alberto's.)
posted by sugarfish at 6:32 AM on October 17, 2007

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Nancy's Stuffed Pizza. It's been quite a few years since I've been "out west" to get one, but it was wonderful.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:51 AM on October 17, 2007

For deep dish, I'd go for Bacinos first, then Ginos East, and then Due's (They use more cornmeal in their crust so the texture is way different).

Bacinos spinach deep dish is the ONLY place I'll eat spinach. Edwardos is the blandest pizza I've ever had, but the ingredients are always fresh.

For thin crust, Gulliver's on Howard rocks! The thin crust at Giordanos is pretty good, but their deep dish usually ends up with the top crust almost raw...which is disgusting. In the burbs, thin crust from Rosati's (Mr. Rosati retired to Phoenix and opened up pizza places there, for you lucky PHX folks).
posted by answergrape at 6:58 AM on October 17, 2007

I've always been a fan of Bacino's as well, although the last time I went, the sauce was a little more liquidy than it should have been, IMO.
posted by adamrice at 7:03 AM on October 17, 2007

Gino's East was my favorite place when I lived in Chicago. I ate more Giordano's since it was closer to me, but didn't like it as much; it's still an 8 to Gino's 10, though, and definitely worth going out of your way for. Uno's and Due never did it for me, nor for any of the other locals I hung out with. Don't judge Chicago style by mail-order from Lou's. It's good but nothing like fresh pizza. After moving I learned to make my own--took me a year to get a good crust, but it's always a winner when outside Chicago the defacto joint is 'Old Chicago's'. Great beer, bad pizza.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:09 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: clearly you need to plan a visit.

I'm on a plane there in about three hours :).

BTW, do any of these pizza places have a crust that is soft, doughy, and slightly sweet?
posted by shivohum at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2007

BTW, do any of these pizza places have a crust that is soft, doughy, and slightly sweet?

That's not really the deep dish style. You might find it slightly sweet, but in order to stand up to all that sauce and cheese, the crusts tend to be more crisp and stiff.
posted by me3dia at 8:36 AM on October 17, 2007

Hate Giordano's and Lou Malnati's. HATE. I find both of them disgusting. I'm actually having trouble finding a pizza I like at ALL in Chicago. Which is weird feeling, since I'm Chicago-suburb born-and-raised and I live in the city now. I know this place is supposed to be all pizza, and I love me some thin crust, but I can't find a thicker crust pizza I like at all. It's sad when you're longing for a Papa John's pizza in Chicagoland...
posted by agregoli at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2007

Malnati's is my favorite, hands down, but the quality suffers substantially when you get it frozen. (I still ask for a couple of pies for my birthday every year, though...) However, I have not found a better solution to my cravings other than flying to Chicago.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:16 AM on October 17, 2007

Gino's East is my favorite for cheese. Lou's is also pretty good as long as you don't give for any of the individual size; it tasted better to me in Lincolnwood location than downtown for some inexplicable reason. Bacino's is good for spinach.
posted by ejaned8 at 9:34 AM on October 17, 2007

If you make it to Oakland or Berkeley ever, Zachary's Pizza is an absolute knockout.
posted by Large Marge at 10:23 AM on October 17, 2007

Not only is Lou Malnati's the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago, it is quite possibly the best food man has ever created.

And, yeah, get it hot at the restaurant. The mail-order version is good, but it's completely different to eat it fresh.
posted by adrian_h at 11:19 AM on October 17, 2007

Hmm. Just an update: had my little trip to Chicago, and ate at Uno's and Giordano's. Uno's was tasty: solid, well-balanced, and pleasant. The crust was pleasantly buttery, the sauce was mild, and the cheese generous. Simple and good.

At Giordano's, I think I made the mistake of ordering one of their ready-made stuffed spinach pies that they have during lunch. It was pretty bad, actually. The crust was soggy on the bottom and excessively hard and tasteless at the edges. The actual cheese and spinach was fine, but not great. Not good, but I suspect the fresh stuff is better.

Thanks for all the suggestions!
posted by Malad at 12:18 PM on October 19, 2007

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