In a case of better late than never, , Chicago's first Quad Cities style pizzeria, has added yet another degree of variety to the city's diverse pizza scene.
'Slice reviews' on Serious Eats
How good is the pizza at Great Lake? If you meet someone who has eaten there and they do not tell you they had one of the best pizza of their lives, you probably don't want to listen to anything that person has to say about food.
Coalfire was an early pebble in the recent avalanche of pizzerias in Chicago that do not fit into the city's traditions of tavern, deep dish, or stuffed pizza. And from the time it opened, the place has remained a favorite for many in town. Across the board, I think Coalfire features some of the best ingredients in town but, unfortunately, that's not enough for me to overlook the flawed crust.
With better deep dish options available in Chicago, the long lines at historic pizza landmarks Uno's and Due's are left largely for tourists to wait in. But Chicagoans who don't take the time to check out the places where deep dish pizza was born are doing themselves a disservice.
Home Run Inn may be better known nationally for its frozen pizzas, but for generations of Chicagoans, it's a pizzeria first and foremost, and a popular one at that. In one day, I checked out the original location and a frozen pie. Not surprisingly, the fresh ones were vastly superior, but both versions do the tradition proud.
While the popular history of Gino's East might be a little overblown, there is nothing misleading about this Chicago institution's reputation for making great deep dish pizza. The golden crisp crust is home to a whole lot of mozzarella, a thick and rich tomato sauce, and, in my case, a giant sausage patty. Together, that makes for one soul-satisfying pizza.
Giordano's flagship restaurant might be loaded with tourists, but residents all over the Chicagoland area keep dozens of other locations busy. There's a thin crust on the menu, but there's really no reason to get it when a wonderfully gluttonous pizza is calling out your name.
Old-school pizzerias that have been serving up delicious thin crust pizzas with outstanding sausage are wonderfully common in Chicago. Among stiff competition, Pat's Pizza and Ristorante stands out as one of the very best thanks largely to an excellent crust that seems to defy the laws of physics.
I could spend weeks putting together a list of Chicago pizzerias that I could describe with the phrase, "I'd be happy eating there regularly." But a much shorter list is one of pizzas that are truly crave-worthy; pies that make my mouth water whenever I think of them. Pequod's is one of those places.
In the pizza world, Chicago is justifiably known for thick deep dish and stuffed pizzas as well as heavily topped thin crust pies. But since Spacca Napoli opened its doors just over five years ago, this city has embraced the VPN-certified restaurant to the point that it is a required destination for every serious pizza eater around.
I had my doubts before I headed into SoNo Wood Fired. I knew virtually nothing of the pizza, but the name, which refers to a neighborhood that only exists in a real estate developer's imagination, screamed that the place was trying way too hard.
There's no doubting the popularity of Phil's Pizza in Bridgeport. The Near South Side institution has been satisfying pizza cravings since 1960 and repeatedly gets glowing reviews from diners. On my recent visit, the restaurant was packed. Given all that, you can imagine my surprise when I bit into a decidedly mediocre pizza.
East Rogers Park is not exactly overrun with pizzerias and Gruppo Di Amici is the only restaurant in the area that attempts a higher end pie. The dimly lit restaurant has a welcoming feel and the service is great. But the pizza came up short.
D'Amato's has existed under its current name and ownership since 1971, but the location has been home to a bakery with same massive coal-burning oven since 1880. In the years since the D'Amato family started selling pizza, Chicago has seen an explosion in its pizza scene. Through it all, D'Amato's has held its ground and still puts out what are, dollar for dollar, among the best slices in town.
The toppings and sauces on pizzas at Revolution Brewing tilt heavily towards nontraditional, but they're too good to be written off as gimmicky. The beer will always be the top draw at the year-old hipster haven, but the pizza is definitely worth checking out.
Dough Boys is only two months old and it's already home to some of the best stuffed pizza and New York-style slices in Chicago. The stuffed pizza crust is made with lard, which means an even flakier and crispier end crust and an added burst of fatty flavor running through the whole pie.
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but a good cover may get you to open a book. If I see an old school pizzeria with a big neon sign, worn pleather seats, and pictures of restaurant-sponsored Little League teams, I'm going to dive in with high hopes. Pete's Pizzeria #2 has all the signs of a classically delicious pizza joint, but unfortunately the pizza comes up woefully short.
Suparossa may be known for its stuffed pizza, but it's the thin crust (topped with excellent fennel-packed homemade sausage) that steals the show.
If you know anyone who thinks deep dish pizza is not delicious, a simple trip to Lou Malnati's is all you need to show them the error of their ways. Malnati's well-balanced mountains of flavor are simply outstanding.
It may not be fair, but when a pizzeria bills itself as Neapolitan, I think it sets the expectation that the crust is going to be a highlight of the pie. At Ciao Napoli, everything except the crust was great, but it wasn't enough to overcome the dense and bland base.