Pizza Wars go back as far as the rivalry between New York and Chicago. The Big Apple, and The Second City. There is room in a pizza lovers heart for both styles, and an appreciation and understanding of Chicago style pizza will enhance your experience of this tasty treat.
A heavy, robust, yet nuanced flavor is the trademark of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. It is indeed, as the song goes, a pizza pie, more than a traditional approach, or what New Yorkers or Romans would think of as pizza. But like the brutal winters and windy days that are the trademark of this Second City, Chicago pizza is not for the faint of heart.
Chicago deep-dish pizza is a gorgeous layered affair, almost a cross between lasagna and a pie. It is deep with a thick crust like a pie, yet layered with ingredients like lasagna. The depth of Chicago deep dish pizza varies depending on the chef who’s making it, but generally ranges from one inch on the lighter side, to up to three inches on the decadent side.
The base of all pizza is a crust, and Chicago deep-dish pizza is no different. But Chicago style pizza takes its crust and puts it into a foundation of a thick pan, almost like a pie pan, but with a more abrupt and distinct edge. The crust on a deep-dish pizza is hearty as Chicagoans like a good carbohydrate base to help them through the long winters!
Next come the layers of ingredients, and like lasagna, the distribution of these varies depending on the chef or the restaurants secret specialty. Tomato sauce usually follows, then a generous helping of mozzarella cheese. Next the toppings are sprinkled through, but with Chicago style pizza, the toppings are actually deliciously trapped within the pie. A final layer of cheese is then placed atop the additions whether you choose a Chicago favorite of sausage, mushroom and onion, or something more contemporary like ham and pineapple, a lavish second layer of cheese is always on order.
The largest variation among different restaurants preparing the deep-dish pizza, other than crust and sauce recipes, which are closely guarded, comes next. Some chefs add another layer of crust to seal in the final cheese layer, then add the closing layer of tomato sauce, while some other restaurants simply go straight to the top layer of tomato sauce. When it comes to Chicago style pizza, there is no right or wrong just interpretation. So when you visit this city, tuck in and try the pizza from several different places, and discover your own favorite of this unique treat!