Pizza in Chicago is kind of a Gangs of New York situation: O.G. deep dish vs. the thin crust that migrated from the coast. Despite Chicago’s loyalty to deep dish (Pequod’s forever) the siren song of airy, chewy thin crust is compelling. As a result, we have a lot of artisanal Neapolitan pizza spots popping up in Chicago. Their ovens have special names, someone’s Nonna is making the dough, and cans of tomatoes are all over the walls. These places are great and we like them, but they’re all starting to feel the same.
But Bebu is different. They don’t have an oven powered by the flames of Mt. Vesuvius and no one from the Old Country is in the kitchen. But they don’t need any of that stuff, because they’re making some of our favorite pizza in Chicago.
Walking into Bebu does not make you feel like you’re about to have a pizza party. Instead of checkered tablecloths and san marzano cans there’s sheet metal and uncomfortable looking furniture. But rather than coming off as uninviting, the utilitarian vibe gives the impression that they are very serious about making pizza. And luckily for us they’re serious about making some f*ckng fantastic pizza.
Bebu’s thin crust makes a perfect vehicle for the toppings, it has the right balance of chewy and crispy and a great char. The pies here are a mixture of classics (the “Ode to Rubirosa” has vodka sauce, pesto, and fresh mozzarella) and creative (the carbonara and littleneck clam are standouts) and they’ll do them half and half if you can’t choose. Most everything is made in house, you won’t find any flavorless or gross-textured meatballs on the meatball and giardiniera pizza.
Bebu’s small plates and salads are definitely something you should have on your table. The meatballs stand on their own as an excellent appetizer, and you can’t go wrong with ordering one of the huge salads. House-cured pancetta and avocado make the chopped salad stand apart from the lunch meat and iceberg lettuce salad at most pizza joints.
Just when we’ve gotten thin crust fatigue and are ready to go back to deep dish, a place like Bebu comes along and quietly starts making some of the best pizza in the city. Spots like this make a great argument for pizza diversity in Chicago, and this is something we can get behind.
Named after the excellent NYC restaurant, this pizza is a successful attempt at making us jealous of New York. It’s a really good.
This is the closest thing on the menu to a traditional pepperoni pizza. But they use soppressata instead of pepperoni and drizzle the pie with a calabrian chili honey. It’s simple but we love the salty/sweet/spicy combo.
Giardiniera, meatballs, and ricotta cheese make this pizza taste kind of like an Italian beef sandwich, and is our favorite of the red sauce pizzas.
A take on the pasta dish, this pie has thick pancetta, panna cheese, and caramelized onions. Instead of a whole fried egg, they do a nifty yolk drizzle, so there’s an equal distribution on every piece and the crust manages to stay really crispy.
We love this pizza. The clam, lemon, and garlic combo isn’t something you normally find in the Midwest, and it’s a must order if you like clams. Actually, you should order it even if you don’t like clams.
They always have a seasonal roasted vegetable, and when we were there it was asparagus. Whatever it is, it’ll have cheese and breadcrumbs and be a good idea to if you want to see a vegetable on your table.
There are a lot of beet salads in the world, and this one is really good. The beets are on a bed of arugula with tahini and feta, and a great way to forget about all the pizza you’re eating.
The meatballs are in a tomato sauce with cheese and thick slices of house made foccacia. So basically this is a deconstructed deep dish pizza.