Chicago's pizza styles: a guide

Chicago's pizza styles: a guide

Gourmet Traveller |
Steve Dolinsky |
Nov 15, 2018
Original Article: "Chicago's pizza styles: a guide"

Food writer Steve Dolinsky set himself a mission: to methodically work his way through the pizza joints of Chicago and its suburbs to identify the best examples of the many styles on offer. These are his picks.

Food writer Steve Dolinsky tested more than a hundred different pizzas to complete his mission. To say that he’s an authority on the various pizza styles of the city, which is so often pigeon-holed as a city of deep-dish and nothing else, would be an understatement. In his book Pizza City, USA, he takes you by the hand and guides you through the city’s streets and its suburban tracts towards the beacons of the city’s pizza landscape. We’ve taken his city recommendations and published them here for your eating pleasure.

Chicago has a special connection to pizza. I say it’s the city with the most pizza variety in the country. Just Google “Chicago pizzerias” and you’ll get more than four hundred thousand results.

The true pizza landscape in Chicago is far more diverse than the deep-dish stereotypes suggest. Though our unique regional style is notable and is often quite delicious when done right, as are the regional styles in St. Louis and New York, it’s hard to argue with Chicago’s range of offerings. I’ve had plenty of opportunities as a professional food reporter to assess and, if you’ll forgive me, chew on it, and the pies discussed in my book are all the evidence I need to say that Chicago truly deserves the title “Pizza City, USA.”

Call it hubris or just plain crazy, but over the course of two months, I managed to sample pizzas from a staggering seventy-six different locations throughout Chicagoland (referring to the combination of city and suburbs, including the five collar counties, that form a continuous border around the city proper).
As for varieties, I tallied ten distinctive types in my research: tavern-style, thin, New York-style, artisan, Neapolitan, deep-dish, stuffed, Sicilian, Roman, and Detroit-style.

Artisan

There are several committed artisan chefs working in Chicago today, giving their ultra-wet doughs up to three days of rest to properly ferment and develop plenty of air pockets inside, which results in extra flavour, character and a more pleasant chew. Bread bakers refer to this as “open crumb structure.” They don’t over-handle the dough, treating each sphere as gently and tenderly as they would give a newborn a bath. They meticulously source (or more likely, make) their sausage, and they know most of the farmers who grow the produce for their toppings. Some even have impressive wine lists. In short, I’m talking about restaurants with very talented cooks in the back who use only the finest ingredients they can get and also happen to make pizzas for a living.

Where to get it
LaBarra, 3011 Butterfield Rd, Oak Brook, 630 861 6177, labarraristorante.com
Pizzeria Bebu, 1521 N. Fremont St, 312 280 6000, bebu.pizza
Stella Barra Pizzeria, 1954 N. Halsted St, 773 634 4101, stellabarra.com
Coalfire, 1321 W. Grand Ave, 312 226 2625, coalfirechicago.com

Roman (pizza al taglio)

Those rectangular pans are also displayed front and centre inside Bonci, one of the most exciting new pizza places in Chicago. Gabriele Bonci partnered with an American investor to bring his unique Roman-style pizza al taglio to the masses. I find it interesting that they didn’t open their first and only United States branch of the popular Roman pizzeria in New York City, but I’m certainly pleased they’re in Chicago. Incidentally, when referring to “Roman-style,” there are technically two types of pizza in play, which I learned after emailing Union Square Hospitality Group CEO (and Rome aficionado) Danny Meyer. One is cracker-thin and round, much like what you’d find at Martina in New York City or at Pizzeria Via Stato in Chicago. The other style is a denser, slightly thicker (Sicilian) style of pizza that is cut to order and weighed in front of you, since you’re paying by the pound. Places like Alice and Bonci in Rome are known for this style.

Bonci’s pizzas are recognized for their beguiling dough, which manages to be soft, chewy, light, airy and crispy all at once. Sliced with scissors and then weighed, the pizza is available in a number of seasonal flavors, such as roasted pumpkin atop supple burrata or sheep’s milk ricotta studded with thinly sliced zucchini. Since you choose how much of each flavor you want cut off and weighed, you can try a few without breaking the bank. I wouldn’t call the pizzas Sicilian or even focaccia-like, as those doughs tend to be more dense and spongy. Bonci has introduced Chicago (and for that matter, America) to true Roman-style pizzas, adding yet another feather to the city’s sauce-laden cap.

Where to get it
Bonci, 161 N Sangamon St, 248 705 0402 or 1566 N Damen Ave, 872 829 3144, bonciusa.com
Pizza Metro, 1707 W Division St, 773 278 1753, pizzametro.com
Pizzeria Via Stato, 620 N State St, 312 642 8450, osteriaviastato.com

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-878-7340

You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in Los Angeles
May 24, 2019

The workday is done, so grab your friends and co-workers and head to Stella Barra in Santa Monica or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in Chicago
May 24, 2019

TGI- (insert day of the week here)! Here are all the happy hour deals available at Lettuce Entertain…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Memorial Day 2019: Metro D.C. Area
May 24, 2019

On Monday, May 27, our Metro D.C. area restaurants will observe Memorial Day with brunch, lunch and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Memorial Day 2019: Los Angeles
May 24, 2019

Our Los Angeles restaurants are honoring Memorial Day on Monday, May 27 with brunch, lunch and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Brunch this Weekend
May 15, 2019

If you're anything like us, you plan your weekend around brunch. Here is your guide to all of our…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Try These 20 Burgers for National Burger Month 2019
May 15, 2019

May is National Burger Month and to celebrate, your favorite Lettuce joints are offering up NEW…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Best Time of the Year: Patio Season in Chicagoland
May 15, 2019

Warm weather is here, which means al fresco dining is too! We've rounded up the best patios at…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants in Los Angeles
May 7, 2019

Stella Barra Pizzeria Santa Monica and Hollywood offer gluten-free menus for their Los Angeles…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants in Chicago
May 7, 2019

At Lettuce Entertain You, we aim to make finding gluten-free friendly restaurants a lot easier. Many…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants in Metro D.C. Area
May 7, 2019

You can find gluten-free menus at our restaurants in the Metro D.C. Area! Here is your guide to the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Enjoy Patio Season in Metro D.C. Area
May 1, 2019

It's that exciting time of year where you can finally eat outside! Enjoy dining al fresco at one of…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Few Of Our Favorite Vegan Dishes
Apr 15, 2019

With warm weather upon us, we're all about eating lighter and brighter - so why not try some of our…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Now Serving: Chianti Wine Jelly at Pizzeria Via Stato
Apr 13, 2019

Any respectable cheeseboard is going to have an accompaniment that perfectly elevates your choice in…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Add This to Your To Do List: A New Weekday Lunch Menu at Stella Barra Santa Monica
Mar 25, 2019

Hey L.A., are you sick of the same old salads and fast food for lunch? We hear you. That's why…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Best Spots for Group Dining
Feb 9, 2019

You finally got the whole crew to agree on the same day and time, now you just have to find the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Late Night & Live Music with Lettuce
Feb 3, 2019

Night owls rejoice - select Lettuce restaurants and nightclubs offer everything from late-night food…

read more >
How To
Already Fell Off the Healthy New Year’s Resolution Wagon? Let’s Eat.
Jan 13, 2019

"New Year, Same Me" more your speed? Well, we're right there with you. Celebrate one of our favorite…

read more >
How To
A Few Of Our Favorite Game Day Recipes
Dec 31, 2018

When you are in the mood to get your hands dirty in the kitchen for hosting your crew or solo…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Stella Barra Pizzeria’s Calabrian Chili & Roast Garlic Chicken Wings with Chive Garnish
Apr 13, 2018

Step up your wing game by making Stella Barra Pizzeria's Calabrian Chili & Roast Garlic Chicken…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Few of Our Favorite Pizzas for National Pizza Day
Feb 9, 2018

There's a food holiday out there for everything but today (February 9) is National Pizza Day and we…

read more >

Recent Posts

In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in Las Vegas
May 24, 2019

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! Treat yourself to happy hour on The Strip at one of our Lettuce Entertain…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in the D.C. Metro Area
May 24, 2019

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! Here are all the happy hour deals at our D.C. metro area restaurants, from…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in Los Angeles
May 24, 2019

The workday is done, so grab your friends and co-workers and head to Stella Barra in Santa Monica or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in Chicago
May 24, 2019

TGI- (insert day of the week here)! Here are all the happy hour deals available at Lettuce Entertain…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in the Twin Cities
May 24, 2019

Happy Hour is even better when the drinks and food are half off! Treat yourself after work at one of…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Memorial Day 2019: Chicago
May 24, 2019

On Monday, May 27, our Chicago restaurants will honor Memorial Day with brunch, lunch and dinner…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Memorial Day 2019: Metro D.C. Area
May 24, 2019

On Monday, May 27, our Metro D.C. area restaurants will observe Memorial Day with brunch, lunch and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Memorial Day 2019: Las Vegas
May 24, 2019

Our Las Vegas restaurants will honor Memorial Day on Monday, May 27 with brunch, lunch and dinner…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Memorial Day 2019: Twin Cities
May 24, 2019

On Monday, May 27, our Twin Cities restaurants will honor Memorial Day with lunch and dinner…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Memorial Day 2019: Los Angeles
May 24, 2019

Our Los Angeles restaurants are honoring Memorial Day on Monday, May 27 with brunch, lunch and…

read more >
How To
VIDEO: How To Mix Up Joe’s Clevelander Cocktail
May 21, 2019

Whether you're looking to impress guests at your next cocktail party, or simply want to shake things…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Chef-Approved Ways to Enjoy Spring Produce
May 20, 2019

Spring's showers have given way to flowers and we couldn't be happier to welcome warm(er)…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now