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Chicago's 10 best pizzas, regardless of crust

We’re suckers for lists, so when a certain travel site recently posted the “Top 10 Cities for Pizza”, our ears perked up. Let’s see where Chicago ranks on here, hmmm… we’re not 6-10, must be in the top 5, alright! Wow, NYC is only 4th -- we’re happy to take potshots at New York, but that seems low. Boston and Vegas both make the podium… somehow. Well, it is with much civic pride we see that the best pizza city in America is Chicag-- SAN DIEGO!?! Not only does Chicago pie reign supreme, it has its own sub-category of pizza. As a matter of principle, here are Chicago’s 10 best pizzas, divided into deep-dish and thin-crust, all of which better than anything you’ll get in California.


Deep Dish Division

5. Pizano's
Multiple locations
What you're getting: The Rudy Special
A descendant of Pizzeria Uno’s that you won’t find being hocked in shopping malls, Rudy Malnati Jr. carries on his pizza lineage with deep-dish offerings like the Rudy Special (sausage, mushroom, onion, and green pepper) worthy of sitting down and splitting with your pizano.
Flickr User [Riley Petersen]
4. Art of Pizza
What you're getting: Meaty Delight
Because the act of eating two slices too many and waking from a food coma is an art unto itself, we present the Art’s Meaty Delight with bacon, ground beef, pepperoni, and sliced beef sandwiched into a stuffed a crust that is just the right amount of crispy and not-too-greasy.
Flickr User [pzavit]
3. Pequod's
Lincoln Park
What you're getting:Pepperoni Pizza
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. While it's hard to go wrong with any combo of ingredients, the fatty meatiness of pepperoni plays beautifully with that crisp crust.
2. Giordano's
Multiple locations
What you're getting: Meat & More Meat
Dating back to an Italian Easter recipe from the founder’s mother for a double-crust pie with ricotta filling, get these giant stuffed pizzas available with meat and more meat (pepperoni, salami, sausage, and bacon), all lovingly encased in a flaky, almost pastry-like crust.

1. Lou Malnati's
Multiple locations
What you're getting: The "Lou"
Illinois residents are fortunate to live in a thriving deep-dish ecosystem as Rick Malnati (Lou’s son) swears by Lake Michigan water to make his dough and refuses to make pies outside the state. Nor should he, because when you’ve got that flaky, buttery crust, seasoned homemade sausage, and plum tomato sauce, you keep it to yourself.

Thin Crust Division

5. Reno
Logan Square
What you're getting: The Hog
On top of putting out unbelievable bagels, their wood-burning oven is also responsible pizzas that stand among the best like the Hog, covered in pork belly carnitas, cotija, and salsa verde. The pizzeria from the team behind Telegraph also grants you toppings like smoked chicken, fennel sausage, and jalapeno pesto.
Piece Chicago
4. Piece
Wicker Park
What you're getting: Plain Pizza
Emulating New Haven-style doesn’t mean you’re out power-washing your yacht -- it means creating a pizza sans mozzarella with tomato sauce, garlic, Parmesan, and oil. Piece harkens to the lauded Connecticut landmarks like Sally’s and Frank Pepe’s with their signature thin-crust pies, as well as offering original options like a BBQ base sauce.
Pizzeria da Nella
3. Pizzeria da Nella
Lincoln Park
What you're getting:Prosciutto e Rucola
Having the original pizzaiola (Italian for “pizza lady”) from just-missed-the-list Spacca Napoli and a third-generation Neapolitan, Nella’s authenticity oozes from its wood-fired crave-able crusts that are chewy and smoky. It's hard to make a bad call, but getting the white pizza with prosciutto and arugula beautifully offsets the perfect crust.

2. Vito & Nick's
What you're getting: Sausage Pizza
You may hear the sounds of Huey Lewis in your head as you murder Paul Allen with an axe devour these hip-to-be-square slices. 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 a Chicago-style thin crust pizza, you'll understand why.
1. Coalfire
West Town
What you're getting: Anything!
With their coal-burning oven (get it?!) firing at 800 degrees, Coalfire puts out a nicely charred crust that’s crispy and bubbly without sacrificing foldability. Coalfire’s masterful crust doesn't need much in the way of help -- you'll be perfectly content with a margherita adorned with whole fresh basil leaves, or the prosciutto, piled with thin sliced-salty goodness after it escapes the oven. It won't escape your mouth, though.
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1. Pizano's Pizza 61 E Madison St, Chicago, IL 60603

Pizano's pizza comes from a line of Chicago pie royalty -- Rudy Malnati, Lou's son -- so you know that their pizza, whether deep-dish or thin-crust, will be awesome and authentic.

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2. Coalfire 1321 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

Coalfire's cooking Neopolitan-style pizzas at 800 degrees so they're perfectly (lightly) charred with a recommended "less is more" approach to toppings.

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3. Vito and Nick's Pizzeria 8433 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60652

With Sicilian roots, this family-owned pie palace started 84yrs ago and continues to deliver delicious, authentic, thin-crust 'zas beloved by Chicagoans -- except, they don't actually deliver because "if you want a truly great pizza, you will come in for it." It's worth it, promise.

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4. Piece Brewery & Pizzeria 1927 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Microbrews and New Haven-style thin crust pizzas are paired together in this casual, lounge-style loft. Specialties include fried chicken (!) pizza and classics like red pizza and plain white pizza brushed with olive oil.

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5. Reno 2607 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

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.

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6. Lou Malnati's Pizzeria 439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610

Lou Malnati is essentially the Godfather of Chicago pizza, and his empire extends throughout the city -- but it's easy to see why: great ingredients, authentic recipes, and just all-around great deep-dish pies.

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7. The Art of Pizza 3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Art of Pizza is a simple, authentic Chicago pizzeria serving up killer deep-dish pies the traditional way.

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8. Pequod's Pizza 2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Pequod's Pizza in Chicago specializes in deep-dish pies with a crust that's GOT CARAMELIZED CHEESE ON IT. Yup.

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9. Giordano's 223 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60606

Giordano's is a Chicago-area staple pizzeria, serving up deep-dish pies inspired by Northern Italian recipes.

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10. Pizzeria da Nella 1443 W Fullerton, Chicago, IL 60614

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.

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