The 25 Best Pizzas in Chicago

We run down the best pizza places in Chicago. It’s the Pizza Top 25, Chicago style!

Margherita pizza at Coalfire (No. 5)   Photo: Anna Knott

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21 Frasca

Margherita

Neapolitan: Instead of sauce or San Marzanos or even plum tomatoes, Frasca’s weirdly inspired Margherita employs perky halved grape tomatoes, each of which explodes delicious juice onto the heady basil strips and sedate mozzarella when you take a bite. And every nibble tastes different. You start at the tender tip of your slice, and as you work your way north, the defiant crust begins to offer more of a fight, toughening up before ultimately hardening into a crisp, aggressive exterior. A lot like adolescence. Without the years of resentment, of course. 3358 N. PAULINA ST.; 773-248-5222

22 Gino’s

Thin with sausage

New York: For 50 years, Gigio’s has been the kind of no-frills, late-night pizzeria where you eat greasy slices off generic white paper plates and drink your RC Cola straight from the can. (Read as: It’s a grunge-hole.) But the pizza—adamantly New York–style in an area that’s pure Chicago—is worth braving the grime. The hand-stretched crust somehow stays crispy on the bottom; on top, lithe cheese curls around homemade sausage and a thin sheet of sauce. If you crave NYC pizza so much you’re willing to eat it under the el with a wide variety of characters, get yourself to Uptown. If not, get it to go.4643 N. BROADWAY; 773-271-2273

23 Monica’s

Thin with sausage

Thin Chicago: has never been a slice town, for whatever reason. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Chicagoans are not animals and they like to sit and digest their food before looking for the next kill. So when faced with a place like this tiny West Town storefront, their first concern is the freshness of the wares behind the counter. But Paula & Monica’s tempting cornmeal-dusted jumbo sausage slice ($5) is lighter, yeastier, and bubblier than your typical slice. And cheaper. It’s actually three hulking wedges—one-third of a pizza—and the constant demand means your order probably just emerged from the oven. 1518 W. CHICAGO AVE.; 312-929-3615

24 Parker’s Restaurant & Bar

Margherita

Neapolitan: Despite being one of the only pizzas in Chicago to earn the famously stringent Verace Pizza Napoletana seal of approval, Parkers’ highly touted Margherita has something very un-Neapolitan about it: a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. While this gambit might get a Neapolitan’s biancheria in a twist, I am not from Naples. The nuttier cheese melts right into the usual elements—creamy mozzarella disks, San Marzano tomatoes, and tiny basil leaves on a snappy, bubbly crust—and punches up the proceedings in a satisfying way. Whether a masterstroke, a mistake, or a brazen act of pizza treason, it works. 1000 31ST ST., DOWNERS GROVE; 630-960-5701

25 Aurelio’s

Thin with black olive

Chicago thin: South suburbanites love to talk about Aurelio’s old oven, a magical apparatus that supposedly dates back to 1959. People have been asking for their pizzas to be cooked in the old oven for so long that no one knows whether it still exists. (It’s also spawned one of Chicago’s longest-running in-jokes—ordering old-oven-cooked pizzas in every Aurelio’s outpost.) My waitress at the flagship location, a middle-aged lady named Betty, assured me it does exist, then served a quintessential party-cut pie with sweet plum tomato sauce, a thick cheese blend, and a crunchy yet distinctively filling crust. “Some people like it,” she said, “because it makes the pizzas extra crispy.” You got that right, Betty. 18162 HARWOOD AVE., HOMEWOOD; 708-798-8050

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4 years ago
Posted by KLF

I can't believe how few of these pizzas are Chicago-style? Was the judging panel from New York?

4 years ago
Posted by Sherry2

Where is Giordanos? I agree with the previous comment, these look like New York pizzas to me! I have never heard of half the stuff on the pizzas.

I like Al's on Cermak/Austin in Cicero. Now that's some pizza!!

4 years ago
Posted by jayrock81

Although I'm happy to see Apart Pizza on this list, you guys missed the boat on the best...Marie's on Lawrence has the absolute best thin crust in Chicago.

4 years ago
Posted by nyerinmo

Does it matter?? ANY of these so called "pizzas" would come in dead LAST against any of New Yorks TRUE pizza! Why people in this town think their pizza is so "great" is beyond me? Its more of a great tragedy that the pizza business has been able to scam this entire city!

4 years ago
Posted by scoods

while some of these on the list ARE great pizza, it's soooo typical of Chicago Magazine/Timeout Chicago. Jeff Ruby has probably never ventured into anywhere but the trendiest northside neighborhoods with his Sex and the City girlfriends all the while thinking they're really digging up some unknown places. i've had great lake pizza it's tasty but shouldn't be called pizza in Chicago. Frasca?? Are you kidding me?? Jeff Ruby should be canned as a food critic if he thinks these are the 25 best pizzas. I'll give you a hint: next time, make sure some thin crust pizza, CUT INTO SQUARES, gets on your stupid list. Northside and Southside gems are missing.

4 years ago
Posted by AustinChicago

1) Chicago-style and New York-style are apples and oranges. The truly enlightened like them both. 2) I cannot believe Pat's on Lincoln isn't on this list... BEST thin-crust in the city. Hands down.

4 years ago
Posted by alwaysacubfan

this is obviously the opinion of a New Yorker! Where is beggars, homerun Inn, Giordano's...please...and why are the slices not in squares? and where is the cheese? Only New Yorkers think a drizzle or cheese and tea spoon of sauce and a basil leaf is pizza!

4 years ago
Posted by jscapes

Where the heck is Barnaby's!!!!!!

4 years ago
Posted by Jay M

For the NY responder that raves about NY pizza; I lived in Chicago for 10 years and have been in NY for 1 year...the two pizza styles are completely different. In NY, you can't get anything close to Chicago pizza unless you go to touristy UNO's. I have to say I can not tell the difference between a great NY slice or a 99 cent NY slice as it all tastes floppy and bland to me. I have to give the edge to Chicago by a landslide. But like the one poster said they are apples and oranges, so I admit my bias.

However, for a Chicago article this is a New York writer with a NY taste. Shame on this editor for letting a non-Chicagoan show us the best pizza in the city.

I would vote Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders for the city and Rosatti's for the burbs!

4 years ago
Posted by badplaid

Um yea...any list without Salerno's (the original on Grand) or Vito & Nick's is pretty incomplete. Burt's Place is way over-rated...dry and bland compared to the original creation at Pequods...and the service there is ridiculous. Art of Pizza should be higher...they have mastered stuffed pizza. Coalfire is great as well, but must be enjoyed dine-in only. Gino's shouldn't be anywhere near the list unless it's 1987.

4 years ago
Posted by Yikes

Enough with Great Lake already. Good God. This list should be re-titled "The Best 25 Trendy Yupster Pizzas in Chicago."

4 years ago
Posted by scoods

Fox's on Western in Beverly

Pat's on Lincoln in Lakeview

Vito and Nick's on 84th & Pulaski.

Suprisingly, these gems of Chicago are not found on the Sex and the City pizza list compiled by Ms. Jeff Ruby.

4 years ago
Posted by rogldr5

Glad to see Aurelio's on the list!! As a South-suburb girl, I would have been disappointed not to find it. I would go with pepperoni, but close enough!

4 years ago
Posted by Coogles

"Burt's Place is way over-rated...dry and bland compared to the original creation at Pequods"

You do know that Burt of Burt's Place is the original owner of Pequods, right?

4 years ago
Posted by Spicy Lou

Um, what about Father and Son / Marcello. That's my family's favorite and we are Chicago natives. New York pizza is the Harold Miner of the culinary world.

4 years ago
Posted by kwhitehead

Chicago pizza is a joke. New Haven style all the way. Or a nice tidy New York slice. Both are milesa bove that goopy Chicago pie.

4 years ago
Posted by SamIam

Jeff Ruby, where are you from? Iowa? Kansas? You sure don't know anything about Pizza. I bet your favorite hotdog is Oscar Myer.

4 years ago
Posted by chipizza888

What about Pizza Art Cafe?!

4 years ago
Posted by ChiGirl67

I am originally from Chicago and am now in Cape Coral, Fl. and what i wouldn't do for a true Chicago Pizza, but you forgot one pizza place off the beaten path and that's Johnny's on Western by Fullerton mmmmm goood the football size could feed a football team..

4 years ago
Posted by rocketmama

What a lazy article -- more than half the photos aren't even of the pizza in question, just the storefront.

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