Chicago-style pizza

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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 more popular with locals.[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]


According to Tim Samuelson, Chicago's official cultural historian,[8] there is not enough documentation to determine with certainty who invented Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.[9] It is often reported that Chicago-style deep-dish pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, in 1943,[10] by Uno's founder Ike Sewell. However, a 1956 article from the Chicago Daily News asserts that Uno's original pizza chef Rudy Malnati developed the recipe,[11] and Michele Mohr from the Chicago Tribune reports that the menu at Rosati's Authentic Chicago Pizza has included deep-dish since it opened in 1926, according to the descendants of Saverio Rosati.[12]

Stuffed pizza

Stuffed pizza from Giordano's

By the mid-1970s, two Chicago chains, Nancy's Pizza, founded by Rocco Palese,[13] and Giordano's Pizzeria, operated by brothers Efren and Joseph Boglio, began experimenting with deep-dish pizza and created the stuffed pizza.[14] Palese based his creation on his mother's recipe for scarcedda, an Italian Easter pie from his hometown of Potenza, more commonly known in Italy as pizza rustica Lucana.[15][16] 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.[17]

Thin-crust pizza

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.[18]

This pizza is cut into squares, also known as "tavern-style" or "party cut", as opposed to wedges.[19][20] 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.[18]

According to Grubhub data and Chicago Pizza Tours, thin-crust outsells the more widely known deep-dish style among locals. Technomics food industry researcher Darren Tristano has questioned GrubHub's conclusion on the basis of the delivery service's user demographics, and NPR noted that the data would not include information on several deep-dish chains that are not on GrubHub.[21][22]


The typical toppings commonly found on pizzas in most of North America (i.e., sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, etc.) are also standards in Chicago area pizzerias; however, a survey in 2013 indicated that while the most popular pizza topping in the rest of most of the United States is pepperoni,[23][24] in Chicago, the most popular topping is Italian sausage.[25]

See also


  1. ^ "Deeper Than Deep-Dish | Perspectives on History | AHA". Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  2. ^ Ali, Tanveer; Ludwig, Howard (January 13, 2015). "A Guide to Chicago Pizza: From Deep-Dish to Tavern-Style and Beyond" Archived 2016-01-01 at the Wayback Machine, DNAinfo. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  3. ^ Kindelsperger, Nick (June 2, 2014). "The Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago" Archived 2016-01-06 at the Wayback Machine, Serious Eats. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  4. ^ "Deep Dish vs. Thin Crust - The True Chicago Pizza". Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  5. ^ "Chicago's Real Signature Pizza Is Crispy, Crunchy, and Nothing Like Deep Dish". Bon Appétit. 2019-07-22. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  6. ^ Mai, Jeffy (2017-03-13). "Chicago's Essential Tavern-Style Thin-Crust Pizza Restaurants". Eater Chicago. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  7. ^ "Why Tavern-Style Pizza Is Chicago's Signature Food". Chicago Magazine. 2021-05-16. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  8. ^ Borrelli, Christopher. "Tim Samuelson: Chicago's cultural historian". Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  9. ^ "Who Invented Deep Dish?", Chicago Tribune, February 18, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  10. ^ Who Cooked That Up? Archived May 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Pizano's Pizza and Pasta – About Us – The Best Chicago-Style Pizza and Italian Restaurant". Archived from the original on 2018-09-29. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  12. ^ Mohr, Michele (October 22, 1995). "Rosati Family is Dividing Up the Pie". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  13. ^ Chu, Louisa (September 19, 2016). "Family's Stuffed-Pizza Dynasty Began with a Fight". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  14. ^ Pollack, Penny; Jeff Ruby (2005). Everybody Loves Pizza. Emmis Books. p. 33. ISBN 1-57860-218-1.
  15. ^ "Our Story". Nancy's Pizza. Archived from the original on 2018-10-23. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  16. ^ "Scarcedda".
  17. ^ "Stuffed Pizza vs Deep-Dish Pizza?".
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Vettel, Phil; Kevin Pang (2009-07-23). "Pizza slices: Two foodies debate the merits of wedge versus 'party cut'". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL: Tribune Company. Archived from the original on 2009-07-26. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  20. ^ Chahwala, Jaison (March 13, 2017). "20 Great Spots to Taste Real Chicago Pizza: Tavern-Style Thin Crust". Eater Chicago. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  21. ^ Rousseau, Caryn (2014-09-19). "It's not all deep-dish pizza in Chicago". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  22. ^ John, Derek (December 20, 2013). "Deep Dish or Thin Crust? Even Chicagoans Can't Agree". NPR. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  23. ^ Lutz, Ashley (October 10, 2013). "Here's a Pie Chart of the Most Popular Pizza Toppings". Business Insider. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  24. ^ "The Top 10 Most Popular Pizza Toppings". Huffington Post. November 12, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  25. ^ 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