Pizza is a dangerous topic in Chicago - chairs will fly through windows when people start giving opinions on deep dish vs. thin crust. And new styles have crept in, too, creating whole new types of pizza fights for us to have. But we fight because we care, and we care because pizza is a nearly perfect food that everyone likes. If you don’t like it, you should take a good, long look in the mirror. That, at least, we can all agree on.
This is a guide to the best pizza places in Chicago. You’ll find a diverse collection of pizza styles, in a variety of neighborhoods. Embrace the pizza debate by having an informed opinion. Then go ahead and throw all the chairs you want.
Some of us at The Infatuation think this is the best pizza in Chicago. Pequod’s serves pan-style pies, with sauce underneath the toppings (unlike traditional Chicago-style deep dish, which has sauce on top). What sets Pequod’s apart is its “caramelized” crust, also known as the burnt edges of crispy cheese surrounding the pie. The crust itself is thick and airy, with a great crunch, and the pies only have a little bit of sauce. The original is in Morton Grove, but we prefer the Lincoln Park location - it’s basically a sports bar, always crowded, and perfect for a group.
Lou Malnati’s pizza is what the world thinks of as classic Chicago deep dish - the kind we love to love and New Yorkers love to hate - and it’s our favorite of its type. “Classic Chicago deep dish” means that the pizza has its sauce (usually a lot) on the top, with cheese and toppings underneath. The crust is buttery and flaky, there’s a ton of cheese, and if you get the sausage (which you should), it’s a giant patty layer instead of little crumbled pieces. This pizza is a gooey mess, and will require a fork and knife. And probably a nap afterwards.
If you’re looking for outstanding Northside Neapolitan pizza, Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood is where to find it. The space feels like it’s trying to channel Italy, with brick walls, cans of tomatoes on display, and a wood-burning oven. The pizzas come out with bubbled, puffy edges, and the thin crust is just perfect. You can’t go wrong with any of the pies here.
Bebu is in the part of Lincoln Park that doesn’t have much “park” - unless you count all the parking lots. And sure, maybe it’s not the place to go for a pizza party (instead of checkered tablecloths and cute decorations, the main design element is sheet metal), but we’re perfectly OK with that, because the thin-crust pies here are amazing. There’s a mixture of creative pies (the littleneck clam is a standout) and classics like a soppressata made more interesting with the addition of Calabrian chili honey. Luckily you can order pizzas half and half, so you won’t have to stress about what to get.
Two reasons we really enjoy Bob’s in Pilsen is that there’s no “Bob” (the chef just likes the name) and this place boldly claims it makes “Pilsen-style” pizza (which isn’t a thing). But we love it because it’s the kind of fantastic pizza we immediately want all of our East Coast friends to try. The crust is made with beer and it’s pliable enough to fold, with a slightly-charred undercarriage and puffy outer edge. We’re big fans of the specialty pies here - the pesto and stracciatella is a stand-out and so is the pickle (with mortadella and garlic cream), which sounds weird, but we promise it’s good. In conclusion: come here.
Vito and Nick’s has been around since the 1950s, and is a Southside institution worthy of its place in the Chicago Pizza Hall of Fame. Their specialty is cracker-crust pizza, which is super thin and crispy, with bubbly browned cheese and spicy tomato sauce. Inside, it’s a total dive: drop ceilings, neon beer signs, and wood-paneled walls. But this is the best kind of bar pizza, and it might not taste the same in a shiny new place.
Forno Rosso’s location in the West Loop is all about exposed air ducts and sleek wooden walls, so it doesn’t necessarily look like it’s trying to convince you you’re in Italy. But it doesn’t need to, because the Neapolitan pizza, with its perfectly charred and chewy crust, is convincing enough on its own.
Etta isn’t technically a pizza place, but we’re putting it on here anyway, because a large portion of the menu is dedicated to some fantastic wood-fired pies that are certainly destination-worthy. They have a perfectly charred and bubbly crust, with well-balanced and high-quality toppings. All the varieties are good, but the “hot pie” is our favorite. It has guanciale, giardiniera, and even more giardiniera served on the side - making it a very “Chicago” pizza, even though it’s thin-crust.
According to the internet and Jon Stewart, we’re at war with New York when it comes to who has better pizza. So when we got Paulie Gee’s from Brooklyn, we were a little self-conscious about how much we liked it. But now we’ll happily admit that the Neapolitan pies at Paulie Gee’s are awesome. As a bonus, they have vegan options that actually taste good. Get anything with their spicy honey as a topping.
If you’re a transplanted New Yorker searching for big pieces of pizza you can fold, this is where you’ll find them. Jimmy’s serves huge, perfectly greasy slices on little paper plates. Come for the basics, like a plain cheese pizza with red sauce and a garlicky white one topped with blobs of ricotta. And when you’re done, go eat some deep dish.
Located in the basement level of a three-story brick building, Chicago Pizza And Oven Grinder is a dimly-lit place that looks like a Prohibition-era hideout. And when you’re here, you’ll feel like you’re eating something that should be prohibited: pizza pot pie. This thing is ugly - it’s a bowl-shaped crust filled with sauce and toppings, and covered with an intimidating amount of cheese. There’s no way to even pretend this is good for you, but don’t let that scare you off. It’s delicious, and in a category by itself.
Piece in Wicker Park holds its own with its New Haven-style pies, which have a soft and chewy crust, lots of red sauce, and parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella (so no gooey cheese bombs here, unless you ask for them). The pizzas are large enough that you won’t need to calculate how many pieces everyone gets as soon as yours hits the table, there’s an extensive topping list, and as a bonus, Piece is also a brewery that has some solid beer.
One thing this list makes abundantly clear is that Chicago isn’t just a deep dish city - despite what the rest of the world thinks. Robert’s in Streeterville showcases this fact with its yeasty, airy, slightly crispy thin-crust pies. You’ll find a variety of toppings, from fennel with pepperoni and honey, to sausage with caramelized onions. While the crust is always excellent, the daily special topping combinations can be a bit unbalanced - so when you come, just stick with the pizzas on the regular menu.
The original Bonci is a counter-service pizza spot in Rome that has a cult following, and this location in the West Loop is the first outside of Italy. Coming here is like going to a pizza sample sale, with people in line impatiently waiting for limited availability slices. There are usually around 12-18 varieties, and the pizza is served “al taglio,” meaning it’s cut with scissors and sold by weight. You’ll find interesting topping combinations like potato and rosemary, or romanesco and hummus. They’re all great, so you should go and try as many kinds as you can.
This is from the same people who owned Pizzeria Da Nella, a fantastic pizza place that used to be in Lincoln Park. Now they’re in Hyde Park, and still putting out the same awesome Neapolitan pies as before. Pizzas are cooked in a 1000-degree wood-burning oven, and have the perfect puffy charred crust you hope for in a Neapolitan pie. The decor in the new space feels modern and a little cheesy, with white walls and a bright yellow Vespa dangling over the bar. But the pizza is good enough that we don’t (usually) even stop to wonder how securely that Vespa is fastened.
Unlike New York, Chicago doesn’t have a lot of slice shops. And eating an entire deep dish pizza by yourself can make you feel like you’ve inadvertently entered a competitive eating contest. Luckily there’s Art of Pizza, which offers some very good deep dish by the slice. The best is their stuffed pizza, which has an extra layer of dough on top. This place is a BYOB, counter-service operation, and the Lakeview location feels like a partially finished basement from the ’80s. But it’s large and great for groups, or even just a slice or two by yourself.
Burt’s isn’t in Chicago, it’s in Morton Grove, but this is our guide, so we can make the rules. If you’re willing to travel for pizza, you need to know about Burt’s. It was started by the original owner of Pequod’s, and developed a cult following. The pizza is almost identical to what they serve at Pequod’s, with the same caramelized crust, but has a sweeter sauce. New owners recently revamped the space, so it now has a full bar and a large outdoor patio - and best of all, you no longer need to reserve your pizza 48 hours in advance.