Chicago Style Pizza

It is my favorite pig-out food. Everytime I have returned to Chicago, it is one of the first things I try to get my hands on. We order twice as much as we can possibly eat and save the rest for breakfasts or snacks. Pure heaven. It must be an ingrown thing. Our parents rewarded our good grades with a Chicago Style deep dish pizza dinner at Lou Malnati’s. Visitors to Chicago have found it to be no big thing. Probably the same way I have had trouble understanding the smoke meat and bagel thing here. Blasphemy, I know.

This all comes up because we recently tried one of those ‘Chicago Style’ pizzas by President’s Choice (PC) at Provigo. I’m sorry, but IT SUCKED! The principle was there, but the correct ingredients were not. For those unfamiliar, Chicago style pizza is a pan pizza with the layers of tomato sauce and cheese inverted. The crust is normally a butter or beer crust. It has a consistency similar to cornbread or it is at least risen a bit like a cake, not pie crust like PC. Next is a layer of mozzarella cheese. The filler is usually slabs of sausage (not deer scat like PC or Dominoes) along with mushrooms and pepperoni sometimes. The top layer is tomato sauce with bits of stewed tomatoes. The only purveyors of real Chicago style pizza that I know of are Lou Malnatis, Gino’s East (featured on the Amazing Race), and Rico Benes. Even the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory on the Champs Elysee had good Chicago style pizza. When I was working on the stadium construction, the roach coach always had some Rico Benes pizza and I pigged out almost every day. Must be how I got this gut.

So a note on the pizza here in Montreal. Now there were always very good thin crust pizza places around in Chicago. Yes it was greasy, but the sausage was real (not scat) and it had a nice thick layer of cheese. My worries started when people told me Dominos had the best pizza here. As far as ordering out for pizza I have been bitterly disappointed. There is just something about it that lacks flavor. I have found that Pizza Hut has the best delivery pizza. Even in France we were able to get some good funky gourmet pizzas. Really our best bet here has been gourmet frozen pizza. Ones with goat cheese, artichokes, and stuff like that. If anyone can recommend a good pizza place, maybe a delivery place on the south shore, I am all ears. I will gladly eat these words along with copious amounts of pizza if I can be proved wrong.

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~ by Frank on December 4, 2005.

14 Responses to “Chicago Style Pizza”

  1. No, no, no! Not Domino’s! People who recommend Domino’s are people whose only experience of pizza are late night deliveries while they were drunk.

    If you like deep pizza, you MUST try Amelio’s. It’s on the corner of rue Milton and rue Ste. Famille (in other words, not so far from Ave. du Parc and Sherbrooke). It’s not a true Chicago style (and they don’t claim to be) but it’s the best gut-buster in town. The best choice is the vegetarian pizza with extra pepperoni. (No, really. They use a different sauce for the vegetarian pizza.)

    Second choice is Bardeco, which is on rue Lincoln, a few doors west of Guy.

  2. …the best thin-crust pizza is (arguably) Prato on St. Laurent, near Schwartz’s. Very different experience from Amelio’s, but very tasty. For the sake of my health, I’m moving away from the gut busters and towards the thinner pizzas with less cheese, so Prato is now my fave. Top quality ingredients, just very thinly placed on a thin crust and cooked in a very hot coal-fired brick oven.

  3. Blork, I had exactly the same reaction about Domino’s. They laughed at me, spit in my face, and called me a pizza snob.

    A thousand thank you’s for the recommendations. I will try to get over to those places as soon as possible. Looks like Amelios is on our evening commute, so if we get bad snow traffic, we may stop it. Prato is on the morning commute, but I don’t think we’ll stop in then. Thanks again.

  4. Amelio’s is great. You have to try their five cheese pizza, but i’d suggest mixing it in with another, if you’re not by yourself. An all-5-cheese pizza-meal can be a bit overwhealming…

  5. Jean-Pierre, I will really need to check out Amelios. If they have carry-out, we’ll pick some up on the way home one of these evenings.

    Blork, I also looked up Miss Italia’s and there is one in walking distance from our house. Maybe tonight!

  6. Frank,
    First, I must agree with blork that Amelio’s has one of the best pies in town. But you should also try “Pizzera Napoletana” and “La Fornarina” in Little Italy. Again, they don’t make Chicago style pizzas, but they are VERY tasteful works of art!

  7. Thank you Andre, I will definitely try those places also. I like all kinds of good pizza, regardless of the style. I just found the standard style disappointing. Thanks again.

  8. When in Chicago how could you possible leave out the originators of “Chicago Style” deep-dish pizza, Uno’s and Due’s. Established in 1943 by Ike Sewell in the River North neighborhood, the original inventor’s of deep dish are going strong even if they sold out their name to a national franchise (who’s pizza is crap). Get the real deal next time you’re in Chi-town.

  9. Actually, I never really considered Uno pizza very good. Granted two of the times I had it were in Champaign and the other time may have been at the Taste of Chicago. I will give it a try the next time I am in town since you seem so adamant that it is good.

  10. I was going to mention the same thing about Uno and Due (that you didn’t refer to them) but have to agree with Frank that their pizza is not top notch Chicago pizza. Their chain pizza is definitely crap (had it once in New Jersey – a mistake!). Lou Malanati’s is the best Chicago-style pizza, but then again, I’m probably biased.

    Oh, by the way, Chicago pizza, even the thin crust “pub style” pizza, has New York coal oven pizza beat by a mile! (Again, I’m biased).

  11. I like La Piazzetta but I don’t think they deliver. There is one in the gay village and also one in St-Lambert, probably others too.

  12. For traditional Italian pizza, try Pizza Motta near the Jean-Talon market.

  13. Being a transplant to Chicago – and accustomed to NY style pizza I’ve struggled to find it here. (I’d recommend Apart Pizza – North Center). That being said – I plan to move to Montreal eventually (love Chicago too) and am hoping to find a more NYC pizza culture.

    -Just sayin’

  14. Anonymous: Yes, I’ve had Piazzetta once or twice. It was good. I should try it again soon.

    Alex: I’ll have to try that place.

    PulSamsara: Our favorite was Pete’s Pizza on Western between Irving Park and Addison. My family says the pizza doesn’t taste the same as it used to, but I haven’t noticed a difference.

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