In the world of pizzas, few styles stir as much passionate debate as Chicago’s iconic deep-dish pizza. A meal in itself, this culinary masterpiece stands tall (literally) and represents the city’s rich gastronomic legacy. If you’re unfamiliar with it, let’s dive deep into what makes the Chicago deep-dish pizza a must-try for any food lover.
History and Origins
While the exact origins of the deep-dish pizza remain a subject of debate, it’s widely acknowledged that Pizzeria Uno, established in 1943 by Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, was the first to introduce this unique take on pizza. Departing from the thin-crust styles prevalent in Italy and much of the U.S., deep-dish pizza was a heartier, more filling alternative, tailored for the appetites of hardworking Chicagoans.
The Chicago deep-dish pizza is distinctly different from its counterparts in both its assembly and taste. Here are its defining features:
- Thick Crust: The pizza’s foundation is a thick, almost pie-like crust, made from a cornmeal and flour blend. This dense crust can stand up to a plethora of toppings and sauce without getting soggy.
- Layered Toppings: Unlike a traditional pizza where cheese comes atop the toppings, in a deep-dish, the cheese is laid directly on the crust, followed by meats and vegetables, and finally topped with a rich tomato sauce. This layering ensures each bite is a medley of flavors.
- Cooking Technique: Given its thickness, the pizza requires a longer cooking time at a slightly reduced temperature. This ensures the crust is perfectly baked, while the toppings meld seamlessly.
Where to Try
While Pizzeria Uno holds the distinction of pioneering the dish, Chicago is now home to several establishments that offer their unique spin on deep-dish pizza. Some of the renowned pizzerias include:
- Lou Malnati’s: Known for its buttery crust and use of fresh mozzarella.
- Giordano’s: Famous for its stuffed crust pizza, a variation of deep-dish with an additional layer of dough above the toppings.
- Pequod’s Pizza: Offers a caramelized crust due to cheese being placed between the crust and the pan.
See also: Food Carts & Pods in Portland, Oregon
Deep-Dish vs. the World
Chicago’s deep-dish pizza has seen its fair share of love and critique. Detractors, often New York pizza loyalists, argue it’s more casserole than pizza. But regardless of the debates, the deep-dish continues to be a symbol of Chicago’s culinary ingenuity.
Deep-dish pizza is more than just food for Chicago – it’s a piece of the city’s history, culture, and soul. Whether you’re a longtime resident or a tourist, indulging in a slice (or more) is a rite of passage. Just remember to come hungry and leave any pizza preconceptions at the door!