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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

(page 4 of 5)

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 (Closed)

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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