Chicago deep dish pizza

Correction 4/11/22: A previous version of this article stated that Phil’s Pizza is cash only. That is only the case for delivery.

Chicago is a pizza wonderland. It makes sense, considering the city has birthed two incredible styles of saucy, cheesy goodness.

For many people outside of the Midwest, Chicago pizza just means one thing: Gooey, cheesy deep dish. That’s understandable, considering restaurant chains like Uno have brought that style of pizza to towns around the country, calling it literally "Chicago deep dish pizza" and equating it with the city where it was born. But a lot of haters — mostly from outside of Chicago — have questioned whether deep dish pizza is actually even pizza (via Eater). Perhaps it’s a self-contained casserole instead.

More discerning Chicagoans know that deep dish pizza is just one of the Windy City’s favorite styles of pizza and that, actually, true Chicago pizza is flat, crispy, and cut into relatively small squares. That style of pizza is known as "tavern style" and it dates back to around World War II, where it was popularized in the city’s many, many corner bars and watering holes (via Chicago Magazine).

While every Chicagoan has their favorite style of pizza from their favorite restaurant — and maybe multiple favorite styles from multiple favorite restaurants — there are still some pizzas that reign supreme in the hearts and minds of Chicago’s heartiest eaters. Here’s the Tasting Table guide to the absolute best pizza in Chicago, ranked.

10. Phil’s Pizza

The mural outside Phil's Pizza

A Bridgeport institution that specializes, once again, in tavern-style pizza, Phil’s is a no-frills, counter service establishment. That doesn’t mean it’s without charm. Families have been coming to Phil’s for ages, especially if they’re on their way to a White Sox game at nearby Guaranteed Rate Field. Their pies are crispy and delicious, especially when topped with spicy little chunks of house-made fennel sausage or the extremely Chicago combination of Italian beef and giardiniera. All of Phil’s pizzas are covered with a thick, gooey layer of mozzarella, too, which perfectly counteracts the crispiness of the cracker crust.

And late-night diners, take note: Phil’s is open till midnight during the week and 1:30 a.m. on weekends, meaning it’s the perfect spot for a bite when you’re looking for something that will soak up all that Old Style you drank at the ball game. You can even add on a side of fries, because sometimes, nothing goes better with pizza than fries.

9. Robert’s Pizza & Dough Company

Pizza from Robert's Pizza & Dough Company

Located in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, not far from the Chicago River and Lake Shore Drive, Robert’s Pizza & Dough Company is a solid bet for out-of-towners looking to pick up a brick-oven pie. Owned and operated by a New York native and certified pizzaioli Robert Garvey, Robert’s is obsessed with perfect crust and pizza that "when folded, cracks but does not break."

Robert’s opened just a few years ago, so it doesn’t have quite as much charm as, say, a Vito & Nick’s or a Marie’s, but the menu is solid and the pizza’s delicious doughy taste is undeniable. A pie with "cup and char" pepperoni is always a solid choice, as is Robert’s seafood pie, which is pretty surprising since those generally are more gimmick than taste. Toppings range from truffle cream sauce bases and braised fennel to Brussels sprouts and dates. Don’t forget to grab a loaf of Robert’s Fresh Za Bread on your way out the door. It’s chewy and delicious, and it’s just $5.

8. Burt’s Place

Plaque memorializing Anthony Bourdain at Burt's Place

Burt’s has a backstory. Longtime owner Burt Katz founded the original Pequod’s, but sold the business in the ’80s. He went on to found Burt’s Place in suburban Morton Grove, which offers pies not too dissimilar to Pequod’s.

Fast forward dozens of years to 2015, when Katz decided he was done with the biz, even though he’d just found fast fame after being featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s "No Reservations." The restaurant had become almost too popular: Burt’s only had one oven, so diners had to call in their pizza orders two days in advance, or be turned away at the door even if they had a reservation.

Katz sadly died in 2016, and the restaurant sat idle until early 2017, when its new owners opened up shop (via Chicago Tribune). Fortunately, they’ve kept much of Katz’s style and cooking while upgrading his kitchen, producing pizzas that are just about as good as the originals. Smart customers know to opt for just one or two toppings, like pepperoni and sausage, because too many toppings can dilute the pure doughy, cheesy taste of Burt’s delicious deep dish.

7. Middle Brow Bungalow

Middle Brow Bungalow

Good pizza doesn’t have to come from a pizzeria. Middle Brow Beer’s taproom, The Bungalow, offers a full slate of breakfast, brunch, and dinner options, including a chewy, sourdough crust-forward pizza that’s captured the hearts of many Chicagoans. Cut into traditional doughy triangles, Middle Brow’s pizza is often covered with fresh, local ingredients like butternut squash and seasonal spring ramps, but traditionalists could also opt for a very solid cheese or sausage pie.

Yelpers are particularly into Middle Brow’s wild mushroom pizza, which they say is best enjoyed in-house rather than at home. They also rave about the restaurant’s hot honey pizza, which comes with mozzarella, parmesan, and soppressata. Pair it with one of the rotating beers from Middle Brow’s roster, like the Cape Town Crush IPA or the White Light wheat beer, and that’s a delicious sounding meal — especially if you start with some of the restaurant’s famous bread and butter as an appetizer.

6. Piece Brewery and Pizzeria

Piece pizza and beer

A bustling Wicker Park brewery and pizzeria, Piece is part owned by Cheap Trick guitarist and local icon Rick Nielsen (via The Daily Meal). Go at the right time and you could catch him (or Dave Grohl) enjoying a pie.

Piece stands alone in Chicago by offering New Haven-style pies, which originated in Connecticut and is kind of a crispier, greasier take on Neapolitan pizza. Fired in a coal oven, Piece’s New Haven-style pizza comes in a variety of traditional iterations, including a tomato pie that features no mozzarella at all.

Where Piece really shines, though, is in its specialty pizzas. The eatery has partnered with a number of beloved restaurants, like the legendary Hot Doug’s, which closed its doors in 2018 (via Serious Eats), to create custom pizzas for its menu. The resulting creations, like Hot Doug’s Atomic Sausage pizza and Honey Butter Fried Chicken pizza, do occasionally sound a little out there, but their flavor profiles are undeniable.

Anyone who might shy away from a full-out chef creation can always customize their own pizza with Piece’s wide range of premium toppings, including clams, house-made meatballs, giardiniera, and both feta and gorgonzola cheese.

5. Paulie Gee’s

Paulie Gee's pizza

The newest spot on this list, so far, Paulie Gee’s offers a more gourmet take on what pizza can be. While the restaurant does have restaurants in other cities, that doesn’t mean it’s just a chain pumping out boring pizza. Paulie Gee’s is actually the opposite, focusing on small purveyors, interesting flavor profiles, and offering a breadth of ingredients, from Italian tomatoes to kimchi and dried Bing cherries.

With outlets in Chicago’s Logan Square and Wicker Park neighborhoods, Paulie G’s caters to a slightly more trendy crowd than the four previous slots, but that doesn’t mean it sacrifices quality for Instagram cred. The restaurant even took home the prestigious U.S. Pizza Cup for one of its Sicilian pies topped with sharp white cheddar, mozzarella, Ezzo pepperoni cups, housemade bacon jam, red sauce, ricotta, basil, and Mike’s Hot Honey. The restaurant offers a number of other incredible combinations, including a robust menu of vegan options.

4. Marie’s Pizza & Liquors

Inside Marie's Pizza & Liquors

Another classic, Marie’s Pizza & Liquors has been keeping the Northwest side of Chicago fed and happy for more than 80 years. The restaurant sits adjacent to a liquor store, and is full of wood paneling, red vinyl booths, and authentically retro charm. More than a few of the employees have been there for over 20 years, and there’s even live music on the weekends! Pro tip: Come at Christmas, when the establishment goes all out on its decorations.

Marie’s bread and butter is thin crust, and Marie’s Special Pizza — the restaurant’s most popular — is topped with sausage, onion, green pepper, and mushrooms. Perfectly cheesy and just the right amount of oily, Marie’s is yet another example of a thin-crust pizza that’s been honed and refined over time. Don’t worry about ordering too much, either. Leftovers go home with patrons in a very charming horizontal pizza bag, and tearing it off when you’re ready for another go is just part of the fun.

3. Vito & Nick’s

Vito & Nick's pizza

A neighborhood spot situated in the Ashburn neighborhood on the city’s south side for over a century, Vito & Nick’s started churning pizzas in earnest in 1946, right after the end of WWII. The pizzas were crafted with the help of co-owner Nick Barraco’s mother, and were based on a traditional Sicilian recipe that relies on quality ingredients, perfectly seasoned sausage, and a closely guarded family dough recipe.

Today, Vito & Nick’s has become a haven for generations of Southsiders who grew up loving the crispy thin crust, as well as for food celebrities like Guy Fieri and Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy, both of whom have given the pizza rave reviews. The interior of the cash only spot is perfectly unglamorous, and the restaurant’s exterior isn’t really much to write home about either. Don’t be confused, though: Some of the very best pizzas come out of the most nondescript locations.

While the restaurant offers a variety of toppings, both traditional and twisted — Italian beef and giardiniera pizza, anyone? –Chicagoans seem to prefer Vito & Nick’s classic cheese, sausage, and half cheese/half sausage pizzas most of all.

2. Spacca Napoli

Spacca Napoli white pizza

A little local spot tucked away off the Metra track in Ravenswood, Spacca Napoli makes classic Neapolitan style pizza with care and heart.

The decade-plus-old restaurant is owned and operated by true pizza lovers who craft their pizzas in an oven straight from Naples, Italy, that was built by third and fourth-generation artisans. The restaurant’s owner, Jon Goldsmith, is a certified pizzaiuolo and takes care to only use quality ingredients, often sourced from smaller or more specialty vendors. Goldsmith and company also often offer specials that are both incredibly seasonal and incredibly delicious, as well as a solid roster of appetizers like burrata and polenta cakes.

In terms of pizza, there really are no losers on the Spacca Napoli menu. The best move is always to order a bunch and share, because it’s always smart to try a little bit of everything. Yelpers are especially partial to the white pizza, the margarita, and the prosciutto and arugula pizza, but you can’t really go wrong.

While reservations are always recommended for Spacca Napoli, the restaurant does have the occasional walk-up spot and is open for lunch, so there’s always a way to get in at the last minute.

1. Pequod’s

Pequod's Pizza

Ask any Chicagoan worth their salt where to go to get deep dish, and they’ll tell you Pequod’s. (That is, if they’re not trying to keep it a secret.) The Lincoln Park eatery has been pumping out pizzas since 1970 and is a local favorite. It’s so popular, in fact, that wait times on weekends are occasionally measured in hours, not minutes. Don’t worry, though: Those who plan ahead can make a reservation or join the eatery’s waitlist on Yelp.

It’s worth it, though, as the pan pizza’s crispy caramelized crust is positively transcendent. Other deep dish establishments like Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s are fine, but Pequod’s takes the gooey style and elevates it to its highest potential. The restaurant’s sausage is especially good, offering a nice layer of fennel flavor to cut through the pizza’s richness.

While a lot of hyped-up restaurants don’t always deliver on their reputation, Pequod’s does, and it does it consistently. The restaurant has been named to so many "best pizza" lists that the restaurant’s site says that "it’s difficult to list them all," and there’s a reason for that. Pequod’s makes the best pizza in Chicago, if not one of the best pizzas in the country.