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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

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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 (Closed)

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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