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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16 Apart

Apart signature pie

Thin: Part of what I love about pizza is that I occasionally stumble across an idiosyncratic place that’s not prisoner to any style but its own. Apart, whose menu name-checks Naples, Rome, and New Jersey, synthesizes the pizzas of all of the above, and the result is unlike any of the above. The lovely, blistered Apart, which cradles ample sausage chunks, pepperoni, and champignons, is crisper than an East Coaster, softer than a Roman, and bulkier than a Neapolitan. And it’s meant to be eaten fast: What’s heartbreakingly magnificent right out of Apart’s new oven becomes a limp mess with time. 2205 W. MONTROSE AVE., 773-588-1550; ANOTHER LOCATION IN EDGEWATER

17 Nella Pizzeria Napoletana

Margherita

Neapolitan: Now that Nella Grassano is no longer in the kitchen at the bright Lincoln Park trattoria built and named for her, where does that leave the place? At the moment, the oven and the celebrated exhibition mirror are in the able hands of Alfredo Colle, another Naples native, whom Francis Ford Coppola discovered at a Neapolitan pizzeria in Paris and brought back to the States. Colle’s scorching Margherita, oblong and firebrick red, is pocked with luscious craters and volcanoes, each oozing smoky, tart flavor. Perhaps best of all, Colle is not afraid to override tradition where necessary, avoiding the soupy Neapolitan oil lagoon that most Americans can’t stomach. The mirror is yours, Alfredo. 2423 N. CLARK ST.; 773-327-3400

18 Gino’s East

Deep-dish with sausage patty

Deep-dish: Gino’s may have secured an impressive following over its 44 years, but once you get past the generations of graffiti and dewy-eyed nostalgia, the volatile pizza has always been a bit like a particularly risky stock. At the moment, Gino’s is up. Way up. The Streeterville legend masters deep-dish by adhering to a careful balance of crust, cheese, and sauce—and with an entire layer of fresh sausage applied in equal measure, it’s like eating a really good open-faced Italian sandwich on buttery, crisp bread. My undistinguished investment portfolio notwithstanding, I’m telling you: Buy now. 162 E. SUPERIOR ST., 312-266-3337; 12 OTHER AREA LOCATIONS

19 Gruppo di Amici

Funghi e formaggi

Thin: On a wall near the Forno Bravo oven at this Rogers Park pizzeria is a small black mark. It’s the area where Gruppo’s steel pizza peel rests when it’s not sliding pies around under 500 degrees of wood-fired heat, and it tells tales of myriad creations—some good, some great. My eyes were drawn to the smudge as I watched the pizzaiolo pull out my pizza, a crackery disk swarmed with wispy sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese as soft and supple as the crust was brittle. Wonderful. When I looked back at the oven, the peel was back in its spot, adding another layer of history. 1508 W. JARVIS AVE.; 773-508-5565

20 Louisa’s

Cheese

Deep-dish: The close-minded cranks who write off deep-dish pizza as nothing more than a corpulent casserole ought to check out Louisa DeGenero’s roadside restaurant before they dismiss the whole genre. DeGenero, an Uno veteran, long ago developed her own version. It’s cooked in a deep pan, yes, but the crust and toppings are hardly exaggerated: Hers is a simple, modest pie with crushed fresh tomatoes, a scattering of cheese, and a crust that’s neither thick nor thin. What it is is buttery, light, and terrific, no matter what kind of pizza prejudices you’re lugging around. 14025 S. CICERO AVE., CRESTWOOD; 708-371-0950

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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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