Jump to content

Chicago-style pizza

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chicago-style pizza
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateChicago, Illinois
Main ingredientsPizza dough, tomato sauce, cheese

Chicago-style pizza is pizza prepared according to several styles developed in Chicago. It can refer to both the well-known deep-dish or stuffed pizzas and the lesser-known thin-crust tavern-style pizzas.[1] The pan in which deep-dish pizza is baked gives the pizza its characteristically high edge, which provides ample space for large amounts of cheese and a chunky tomato sauce. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza may be prepared in the deep-dish style and as a stuffed pizza. Chicago-style thin-crust pizza dough is rolled for a thinner crispier crust than other thin-crust styles. The thin-crust pizza is cut in squares instead of slices, and is also referred to as a "tavern-style" pizza.[2][3][4][5][6][7]


Chicago-style deep-dish pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, founded by Ike Sewell and Richard Riccardo in 1943.[8][9][10] Riccardo's original recipe for a pizza cooked in a pie pan or cake tin was published in 1945 and included a dough made with scalded milk, butter, and sugar.[11] The restaurant's cook Alice Mae Redmond later adjusted the recipe to be made with water and olive oil and a "secret dough conditioner" to make it stretch better.[12][13] In the 1960s and '70s the dough ball became larger to cover the full sides of the pan, with a higher fat percentage.[11] Redmond later worked at Gino's East, founded in 1966, where she made a fattier, biscuit-like dough.[9][12]

Uno's original pizza chef Rudy Malnati has also been credited for development of the recipe.[14][15] Rudy's sons Lou and Rudy Jr., who also worked at Pizzeria Uno, later respectively founded Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in 1971 and Pizano's in 1991, both also known for their deep-dish pizzas.[15]

The thick pizza crust, sometimes made with cornmeal for texture,[16] may be parbaked before the toppings are added to give it greater spring. In traditional recipes, the top of the crust is layered with meats and/or vegetables and mozzarella cheese while the sides rise to the top of the pan, and then a layer of crushed tomatoes is ladled over the top and the whole pizza is baked to completion.[17][18] Deep-dish pizza is often eaten with a knife and fork, since its thickness and occasional messiness do not lend themselves to eating with the hands as is often the case for thin-crust pizza.

Stuffed pizza[edit]

Stuffed pizza from Giordano's

By the mid-1970s, two Chicago chains, Nancy's Pizza, founded by Rocco Palese,[19] and Giordano's Pizzeria, operated by brothers Efren and Joseph Boglio, began experimenting with deep-dish pizza and created the stuffed pizza.[20] Palese based his creation on his mother's recipe for scarcedda, an Italian Easter pie from his hometown of Potenza in Basilicata at the far southern end of the Italian Peninsula, more commonly known in Italy as pizza rustica Lucana.[21][22] The primary differences between a stuffed pizza and a deep dish pizza are that stuffed pizzas are typically deeper, have another layer of dough covering the toppings, and have more cheese than deep dish pizza, while deep dish tends to have more sauce.[23]

Thin-crust pizza[edit]

Chicago-style tavern-style thin-crust pizza

There is also a style of thin-crust pizza found in Chicago and throughout the rest of the Midwest. The crust is thin and firm enough to have a noticeable crunch, unlike a New York–style pizza. While in New York, bakers who had immigrated from Italy made pizzas using the traditional method of tossing the dough by hand; the tavern owners who first developed Chicago's thin-crust pizza instead rolled their dough or used mechanical sheeters. This led to thinner crusts than those present in hand-tossed pizzas.[24]

This pizza is cut into squares, also known as "tavern-style" or "party cut", as opposed to wedges.[25][26] The name "tavern-style" comes from the pizzas originally being served in taverns, often as an enticement to drink alcohol. This origin in taverns is also linked to the pizza's shape, as the square shape of the slices made it possible for taverns that did not have plates to instead set them on napkins.[24]

As of 2013, according to Grubhub data and the company Chicago Pizza Tours, thin-crust outsells the more widely known deep-dish style among locals, with GrubHub stating that deep-dish comprises only 9% of its pizza deliveries.[27][28] In response, Technomics food industry researcher Darren Tristano questioned GrubHub's conclusion on the basis of the delivery service's user demographics, saying that its younger users can not afford deep dish pizza, while NPR noted that the data would not include information on two particular deep-dish chains (though with just 20 restaurants in the city of 2.7 million) that are not on GrubHub.[27]


The typical toppings commonly found on pizzas in most of North America (such as sausage, pepperoni, onions, and mushrooms) are also standards in Chicago-area pizzerias. A survey in 2013 indicated that while the most popular pizza topping in most of the United States is pepperoni,[29][30] in Chicago the most popular topping is Italian sausage.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Deeper Than Deep-Dish". Perspectives on History. www.historians.org. AHA. Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  2. ^ Ali, Tanveer; Ludwig, Howard (January 13, 2015). "A Guide to Chicago Pizza: From Deep-Dish to Tavern-Style and Beyond". DNAinfo. Archived from the original on January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  3. ^ Kindelsperger, Nick (June 2, 2014). "The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago". Serious Eats. Archived from the original on January 6, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  4. ^ "Deep Dish vs. Thin Crust - The True Chicago Pizza". Visit Oak Park. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  5. ^ "Chicago's Real Signature Pizza Is Crispy, Crunchy, and Nothing Like Deep Dish". Bon Appétit. July 22, 2019. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  6. ^ Mai, Jeffy (March 13, 2017). "Chicago's Essential Tavern-Style Thin-Crust Pizza Restaurants". Eater Chicago. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  7. ^ "Why Tavern-Style Pizza Is Chicago's Signature Food". Chicago Magazine. May 16, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  8. ^ "Who Cooked That Up?". Archived from the original on May 8, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Kim, Eric (May 10, 2024). "The Most Surprising Thing About Deep Dish Pizza? It's Not That Deep". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  10. ^ Bendersky, Ari (May 8, 2012). "Chicago's Deep Dish History: It All Started With Uno's". Eater Chicago. Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  11. ^ a b "The Secret History of the Original Deep-Dish Crust". Chicago Magazine. May 7, 2024. Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  12. ^ a b Tennison, Patricia (April 13, 1989). "REVEALED: SECRET BEHIND PIZZAS AT GINO'S EAST". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  13. ^ "History Of Deep Dish Pizza - History of Gino's East". Gino's East. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  14. ^ "Who Invented Deep Dish?". Chicago Tribune. February 18, 2009. Archived from the original on August 7, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "About Us". Pizano's Pizza and Pasta. Archived from the original on September 29, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  16. ^ Kavanagh, Olivia (April 12, 2022). "Baking School In-Depth: Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza - Bake from Scratch". Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  17. ^ Schmalbruch, Sarah. "Why Chicago deep dish pizza is better than New York's version". Business Insider. Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  18. ^ "Deep Dish Pizza Recipe". NYT Cooking. Retrieved May 12, 2024.
  19. ^ Chu, Louisa (September 19, 2016). "Family's Stuffed-Pizza Dynasty Began with a Fight". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  20. ^ Pollack, Penny; Jeff Ruby (2005). Everybody Loves Pizza. Emmis Books. p. 33. ISBN 1-57860-218-1.
  21. ^ "Our Story". Nancy's Pizza. Archived from the original on October 23, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  22. ^ "Scarcedda". Cuore Basilicata (in Italian).
  23. ^ "Stuffed Pizza vs Deep-Dish Pizza?". Doreen's Pizzeria.
  24. ^ a b McClelland, Edward (June 30, 2020). "Tavern Style Isn't Just Chicago's Signature Pizza, but Its Signature Food". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  25. ^ Vettel, Phil; Kevin Pang (July 23, 2009). "Pizza slices: Two foodies debate the merits of wedge versus 'party cut'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 26, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009.
  26. ^ Chahwala, Jaison (March 13, 2017). "20 Great Spots to Taste Real Chicago Pizza: Tavern-Style Thin Crust". Eater Chicago. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  27. ^ a b John, Derek (December 20, 2013). "Deep Dish or Thin Crust? Even Chicagoans Can't Agree". The Salt. NPR. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  28. ^ Rousseau, Caryn (September 19, 2014). "It's not all deep-dish pizza in Chicago". The Detroit News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  29. ^ Lutz, Ashley (October 10, 2013). "Here's a Pie Chart of the Most Popular Pizza Toppings". Business Insider. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  30. ^ "The Top 10 Most Popular Pizza Toppings". Huffington Post. November 12, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  31. ^ Kindelsperger, Nick (August 21, 2017). "Why Are Chicagoans So Obsessed with Italian Sausage on Pizza? An Investigation". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2017.

Further reading[edit]