pizza is a deep-dish pizza style developed in Chicago.
Chicago-style pizza has a buttery crust up to three inches tall
at the edge, slightly higher than the large amounts of cheese
and chunky tomato sauce, acting as a large bowl. The term also
refers to "stuffed" pizza, another Chicago style. While in
Chicago most pizzerias serve thin-crust pizza, generally in a
style characteristic to the city, the term Chicago-style pizza
is used to describe this deep-dish style of pizza.
Styles of pizza
The Chicago-style "deep-dish" pizza was
invented at Pizzeria Uno, in Chicago, in 1943, reportedly by Uno's
founder Ike Sewell, a former University of Texas football star.
However, a 1956 article from the Chicago Daily News asserts that
Uno's original pizza chef Rudy Malnati developed the recipe.
This pizza is unique because
it is far from the roots of an original Italian pizza. It does not
include thin crusts or delicate toppings, but rather it is made with
a heavy, thick crust and large amounts of cheese, sauce and
The pizza begins with a
thick layer of dough made with olive oil and cornmeal laid into a
deep round pan and pulled up by the sides, then parbaked before the
toppings are added to give it greater spring; the pan is oiled
heavily in order to create a fried effect on the outside of the
crust. The crust is covered with cheese (generally sliced
mozzarella) and meats, usually in a solid layer or patty, just above
the crust. Italian sausage (a Chicago staple), as well as vegetables
such as onions, mushrooms and bell peppers are also used. A sauce,
usually uncooked, made from shredded or puréed tomatoes is added.
Another deep-dish restaurant
is Uno's companion restaurant Due, opened down the block by Sewell
in 1955. However, a year before, the Original Gino's Pizza opened on
Rush Street. Twelve years later, in 1966, Gino's East opened. Lou
Malnati's was founded by another of Rudy Malnati's sons.
In 1972, the Chicago Tribune
reported that a steakhouse chain called "Gulliby's at S.O.P."
offered "pub dining rooms that feature deep-dish pizza and
Accordingly, many Chicago deep-dish pizza restaurants ship their
partially baked pizzas within the continental U.S.
By the mid-1970s, two Chicago chains, Nancy's
Pizza, founded by Rocco Palese, and Giordano's Pizza began
experimenting with deep dish pizza and created the stuffed pizza.
Palese based his creation on his mother's recipe for scarciedda, an
Italian Easter pie from his hometown of Potenza. The Giordano
brothers worked for Palese as cooks and split off on their own in
the early 70's. Chicago Magazine articles featuring Nancy's Pizza
and Giordano's stuffed pizza popularized the dish.
Stuffed pizzas are often
even taller than deep-dish pizzas, but otherwise, it can be hard to
see the difference until it is cut into. A stuffed pizza generally
has much higher topping density than any other type of pizza. As
with deep-dish pizza, a thin layer of dough forms a bowl in a
high-sided pan and the toppings and cheese are added. Then, an
additional layer of dough goes on top and is pressed to the sides of
the bottom crust.
At this stage, the thin
dough top has a rounded, domed appearance. Pizza makers often tear a
small hole in the top of the "lid" to allow air and steam to escape
while cooking, so that the pizza does not explode and injure the
pizza maker, and also to allow the sauce to permeate the pie. Pizza
sauce is ladled over the top crust and the pizza is baked.
Pan pizza in Chicago is similar to the
deep-dish style, and baked in a similar deep-sided pan, but its
crust is quite thick—a cross between the buttery crisp crust and
focaccia. Toppings and cheese frequently go on the top of a pan
pizza, rather than under the sauce as is traditionally the case with
deep-dish and stuffed pizza. The placement of the cheese and
toppings on top make the pan pizza variety similar to a thin-crust
pizza with a thicker and larger crust.
There is also a style of thin-crust pizza
unique to Chicago. The crust is thin and firm enough to have a
noticeable crunch, unlike a New York-style pizza.
The crust is topped with a
liberal quantity of Italian style tomato sauce, which usually has
quite a lot of herbs or is highly spiced, and typically contains no
visible chunks of tomato. Next, a layer of toppings is added, and
finally a layer of mozzarella cheese. This pizza is cut into
squares, also known as party cut, as opposed to a pie cut into
However, the consistency of
the crust and the quantity and choice of the tomato sauce and cheese
are what separate this style from East Coast- and Roman-style
pizzas, and it makes the pizza from most neighborhood pizzerias
immediately distinguishable from that offered by national chains
such as Papa John's or Pizza Hut. Aurelios is a chain which
specializes in this kind of pizza. Casa Bianca, located in the Eagle
Rock section of Los Angeles, is also well known for this style.