Whoever said, “Sex is like pizza: even when it's bad, it's still pretty good”, probably wasn't taking into consideration how truly awful pizza can be. So to help ensure you never end up with another poor pie, we braved Chicago's vast marinara ocean to piece together this list of the best pizzas in 23 different neighborhoods.
Editor's Note: We’ve excluded chains with locations in multiple 'hoods, but that doesn't mean we don't heart you, Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s.
Best Pizza Place: Piece (click here for address and deets)
Their thin-crust, New Haven-style pies let you choose a base of tomato sauce, olive oil, or BBQ sauce (and yes, they will think less of you if you don't choose BBQ sauce). They’re also not afraid to sprinkle fried chicken on a pizza.
Best Pizza Place: My Pie Pizza (click here for address and deets)
You can grab both thin-crust and deep dish pie by-the-slice, each of which will include dedicated ingredients and dough recipes.
LOGAN SQUARE (TIE)
Best Pizza Place #1: Reno (click here for address and deets)
On top of putting out unbelievable bagels, its wood-burning oven is also responsible for pizzas with choice toppings, like smoked chicken, fennel sausage, and jalapeno pesto.
Best Pizza Place #2: Boiler Room (click here for address and deets)
A rotating oven puts out gigantic, thin-crust pizzas -- available by the pie or slice -- with specialties like the Thai Serrano (sweet chili oil, cream cheese sauce, serrano peppers, chicken) and a chicken club-inspired pie. A. CHICKEN. CLUB. INSPIRED. PIE.
Best Pizza Place: Antica Pizzeria (click here for address and deets)
The thin and crispy crust of Antica’s pizzas is a blend of Neapolitan and Sicilian techniques, and includes ingredients imported from Italy. Try the Pistacchio e Speck, a no-sauce disc topped with mozzarella, roasted pistachios, arugula, sliced speck, shaved Parmesan cheese, and truffle oil.
WEST ROGERS PARK
Best Pizza Place: Candlelite (click here for address and deets)
Tuesdays mark 2-for-1 pizzas at the 60+ year-old Rogers Park mainstay, with a selection that includes an Angry Hawaiian with Buffalo sauce, and a Flaming Italian beef with giardiniera.
LINCOLN PARK (TIE)
Best Pizza Place #1: Pequod’s (click here for address and deets)
A departure from more conventional deep-dish and stuffed incarnations, the calling card for Pequod's breadier crust is the sacred ring of caramelized cheese along the edge.
Best Pizza Place #2: Pizzeria Da Nella (click here for address and deets)
This wood-fired brick oven pizza stop (opened by the former pizza-maker from Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood) finishes each pie with a crave-worthy, half-chewy-half-smoky crust.
Best Pizza Place: La Villa (click here for address and deets)
This Italian joint does square-cut pizzas with an extra layer of cheese melted over the toppings, which include taco fixings or Southwestern BBQ chicken.
Best Pizza Place: Art of Pizza (click here for address and deets)
Grab ahold of meaty delight (uhhhhh) with bacon, ground beef, pepperoni, and sliced beef, all sandwiched into stuffed pizza crust (ooooooh). It's just the right amount of crispy and not-too-greasy.
Best Pizza Place: Apart Pizza (click here for address and deets)
Tear apart (!) a 10in personal pizza; their signature pie being the #22 with fontanini, fresh champignons, and pepperoni.
Best Pizza Place: Eataly (click here for address and deets)
It’s worth navigating through the wave of shoppers to grab a spot in line at La Pizza, and its wood-fired ovens' volcanic pizza stones that put out margherita pies topped with Buffalo mozzarella, basil, and shmancy, high-end olive oil.
Best Pizza Place: Bar Toma (click here for address and deets)
This pizzeria, from Spiaggia & Top Chef Masters' Tony Mantuano, offers 20 different wood-fired options, with toppings ranging from prosciutto to duck sausage, as well as a pizza parlor available for private events
with your Little League team.
Best Pizza Activity: Chicago Pizza Tour (click here for deets)
You could hit up the deep dish chains around The Loop individually, but the better move is to get in on the Chicago Pizza Tour and hit four great pizzerias in one afternoon.
Best Pizza Place: Roots Handmade Pizza (click here for address and deets)
Roots' Quad City-style pizza -- cut into strips with scissors -- is thicker than most thin-crust pies, with the cheese baked on top of the toppings (making them bottom-ings?!).
Best Pizza Place: Coalfire (click here for address and deets)
With their coal-burning oven firing at 800 degrees, Coalfire puts out a nicely charred crust that’s crispy and bubbly without sacrificing foldability. Their masterful margherita and prosciutto pies sit atop our latest pizza rankings.
Best Pizza Place: Spacca Napoli (click here for address and deets)
This pizza place meets the Naples standard, from an oven that was built by third- and fourth-generation Italian artisans to pizzas made by their certified pizzaiolo (which's fancy Italian for "pizza maker").
Best Pizza Place: Marie’s Pizza & Liquors (click here for address and deets)
Great thin-crust pizza + Live music + No-hassles in bringing your own booze from the adjacent liquor shop = So much yes.
Best Pizza Place: A10 (click here for address and deets)
A10’s open kitchen gives hungry pizza eater's warmth/a view of their oven firing-off Roman-style squares that're topped with smoked eggplant, country bacon, and portobello mushrooms.
Best Pizza Place: Pisa Pizza (click here for address and deets)
You won’t find a better bang for your buck in Pilsen than Pisa’s Sicilian slices -- they're both big and cheap ($2 for a cheese slice).
Best Pizza Place: Vito & Nick’s (click here for address and deets)
This South Side institution doesn't look like it's changed a whole lot since the '50s, and when you taste this textbook rendition of square-cut, thin-crust pizza, you'll understand why.
Best Pizza Place: Phil's Pizza (click here for address and deets)
The sausage and garlic pie at this Bridgeport pizza landmark comes with house-made sausage, hunks of garlic, and a thick layer of mozzarella.
Best Pizza Place: Pompei (click here for address and deets)
While Little Italy is often breezed over on “best” lists, Pompei holds its own thanks to Old World pizzas and new-school pizza strudel: stuffed bread with ingredients like chicken Parm, beef Angelo, and meatballs. Eccellente.
Best Pizza Place: Caponie's Trattoria (click here for address and deets)
Even though the neighborhood next to UIC claims the moniker “Little Italy”, you’ll find equally authentic Italian eats in Dunning, including “the pizza you can’t refuse” at Caponie’s Neapolitan pizzeria.
Best Pizza Place: Mama Luna's (click here for address and deets)
Luna’s serves up ultra thin-crust pizza in sizes ranging from small (10in) to megaball (a 16in x 32in behemoth).
Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and he knows to never get involved in a land war in Asia. Follow him @SeanCooley.
1. Antica Pizzeria5663 N Clark St, Chicago
2. The Art of Pizza3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
3. Pequod's Pizza2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago
4. Pizzeria da Nella1443 W Fullerton, Chicago
5. Reno2607 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
6. The Boiler Room2210 N California, Chicago
7. Roots Handmade Pizza1924 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
8. Vito & Nick's Pizzeria8433 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago
9. Coalfire1321 W Grand Ave, Chicago
10. Eataly43 E Ohio St, Chicago
11. Bar Toma110 E Pearson St, Chicago
12. A101462 East 53rd St, Chicago
13. Caponie's Trattoria7419 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago
14. My Pie Pizza2010 N Damen Ave, Chicago
15. Spacca Napoli1769 W Sunnyside Ave, Chicago
16. Candlelite Chicago7452 N Western Ave, Chicago
17. Pisa Pizza2050 W Cermak Rd, Chicago
18. Marie's Pizza & Liquors4127 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago
19. Apart Pizza2205 W Montrose Ave, Chicago
20. La Villa3638 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago
21. West Town Pizza2525 W North Ave, Chicago
22. Mama Luna's5109 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago
23. Phil's Pizza1102 W 35th St, Chicago
24. Pompei1531 W Taylor St, Chicago
Antica was founded on creating the finest Italian dishes by staying true to authentic recipes for the tastiest results. Their menu is always changing, so their antipasti, salads, risotto, pizzas, and pastas will always surprise you.
This simple and unfussy counter-serve pizzeria in Lakeview serves quality deep-dish pizza without the tourists and crowds. The Art of Pizza gets everything right, from the flaky crust to the brightly spiced tomato sauce on top, and even serves pan pizza by the slice for those who don't want to commit to the entire thing. Even though the spot is known for its deep-dish pies, it also makes thin-crust and stuffed pizzas.
Pequod's should be on everyone's bucket list for deep-dish pizza in Chicago. The Lincoln Park mainstay specializes in cast-iron pan pizza with a caramelized cheese-topped crust. The lacy and blackened edges are a Pequod's signature, and the crust is crunchy and dense, while the cheese is sharp and tangy. The Clybourn Ave restaurant is open until 2am, so it's got your late-night pizza needs covered.
Proving women and pizza are about more than just skanky Julia Roberts trying to convince audiences she's Portuguese, Pizzeria da Nella is the new home of the former Spacca Napoli she-pizzaiola, a Naples native who started firing 'zas at age 13. Her new digs are appropriately centered around a brick oven she mosaic-tiled herself, and rounding out the space are canvas pictures of Italian villas and the Bay of Naples, though your arrival will make it more of a Bay of Pigs.
Local, organic ingredients go into making Reno's mostly handmade American cuisine, including its delectably stacked wood-fired pizzas. Decked with choice cocktails and an extensive list of fairly priced wine, this resto knocks it out of the park.
This industrial restaurant-slash-bar in Logan Square does pizza, beer, and general comfort food (fried cheese balls, poutine, mac & cheese) really really well. The pizza options are staggering: aside from simple cheese, pepperoni, and sausage pies, there are more than 15 specials and a build-your-own options. The Boiler Room's real claim to fame is its PB&J special: a slice of pizza, PBR tall boy, and a Jameson. There's plenty of communal tables and a great outdoor patio, and if you couldn't tell from the aforementioned PBR and whisky special, this place is a hipster destination.
Helmed by the people behind The Fifty/50, this deluxe corner spot in West Town is slinging "Quad Cities-style" pizza. The hand-tossed crusts are infused with the same malt you taste in your beer before they're lathered with homemade sauce, doused in mozzarella, topped with your choice of fresh ingredients and cured meats, fired, and sliced into thin, easy-to-eat strips. Perfect for big family outings and group nights, the bar and patio seat more than 300.
This family-owned South Side institution has been making legendary thin-crust pizza since 1932. The square-cut, crispy-like-a-cracker pies can be topped with a variety of toppings but the crowd favorite is the sausage pizza topped with fennel-seasoned sausage. It's hard to miss Vito & Nick's red, white, and green awning, and the interior is as old-school basic as the exterior. Heads up: it's cash-only.
This thin-crust pizzeria in West Town (with a larger location in Lakeview) takes its name from the 800-degree coal-fired oven that cooks its perfectly blistered pizzas. Every pie comes out of the oven with a charred crust and a myriad of topping like pepperoni, whipped ricotta, stracciatella, and sausage. Coalfire is a quintessential family-style joint where the pizzas are meant to be shared and devoured.
Eataly Chicago is the newest hub from Mario Batali. Head to any of his food shops for authentic grub, or take some classes!
James Beard Award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano's Bar Toma in Near North Side is an Italian neighborhood restaurant with open brick walls covered in chalk murals and big leather booths that provide a familial feeling, just like it's classic fare. The mozzarella bar, espresso bar, and gelato are all merely a backdrop to the wood-fired pizzas, the recipe for which Mantuano crafted himself from imported Italian ingredients and are topped with basil, prosciutto, Calabrian chiles, and truffle oil.
A10 is one of the best places to indulge in creme brulee, on-tap cocktails, and awesome brews. Not particularly in that order.
Their motto is "The pizza you can't refuse," and they're pretty much right. Their wood-fired brick oven 'za is some of the tastiest around and it's available in plenty of unique styles such as BBQ Chicken and Verdura con Funghi, which has spinach, 'shrooms, garlic, and ricotta cheese or red sauce.
My Pie opened their first pizza shop in 1971 and the haven't quit crafting quality pies since, and they still use same delicious ingredients and old-school recipes today at their Bucktown location.
Neapolitan-style pies might get overlooked by the deep-dish big names in Chicago, but Spacca Napoli is the place to go for authentic pizza made the Naples way. Owner Jonathan Goldsmith did intense research on the art of pizza-making in Italy, and this Ravenswood pizzeria is proof that he's perfected his craft. Spacca Napoli uses the best possible ingredients (pecorino grand cru, San Marzano tomatoes) and tends dough daily. The simple menu is split into three categories: antipasti, pizza, and dessert. It's hard to choose just one pizza on the menu, but the simple Bufalina is a must.
Located in Rogers Park, Candlelite has been dishing out delicious thin-crust pizza, gourmet burgers, and garlic fries in Rogers Park for more than 60yrs.
Pisa Pizza isn't about frills, but they do a damn fine pie (or slices) for about as cheap as you'll find in the Windy City.
The name says it all. Pizza. And liquors. Seriously, what more could you want? Beer? Oh yeah, they have that too!
Apart Pizza is hands-down some of the best pie North of the city. They've got delectable thin crusts, free delivery, and innovative toppings.
This trattoria-style Italian joint has been an Irving Park favorite since 1972. La Villa is a family-run pizza and pasta neighborhood restaurant that started as a small take-out storefront before expanding up and out into a full-service shop. The original owners still work the kitchen, making everything from the sauce to the dough from scratch.
Their deep dish is righteous, their thin crust is impressive, their toppings are fresh and unique, and, uh... it doesn't get much better than that!
Mama Luna's is seriously edible pie that's juiced up with fresh sauce, cheese, and the right amount of spice.
Phil's is a Chicago staple; from their fresh sauces, cheeses, and thin crusts to their excellent service, this joint is not to be missed.