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Chicago’s Best Pizza

From cracker crust to deep dish and everything in between: the 38 greatest pizzas in the greatest pizza city on earth

Above: Lasagna pizza at Coalfire Photo: Clint Blowers; food styling: kim Loughlin

In 2010—the last time Chicago undertook the mammoth task of identifying the top pies in town—the runaway champ came from an exacting Andersonville boutique called Great Lake. But Nick Lessins, the mercurial artiste behind the place, forfeited the crown when he closed up shop in 2013. The Gold Coast’s Castel Gandolfo (No. 3), a forgotten master of the Margherita, has closed too. So has Wicker Park’s Crust (No. 4). We knew it was time to get back out there—and that anything could happen.

In an era when no new restaurant dares open without a wood-burning oven, we found a scene tilting ever further from thick crust to thin. We encountered both slavishly traditional pizzas and brilliant gourmet creations like nothing we’d eaten before. Eighty-four restaurants, 150 pies, and 23 pounds later, we named the diverse group of 38 winners that follows. (Yes, 38 winners, up from 25 in 2010: The local pizza landscape has gotten that much bigger. And better.)

The list may surprise or even enrage you. No Pequod’s, no Aurelio’s. No Art of Pizza, no Gino’s. Elbowing them out were lesser-known makers of superior specimens, such as Cristiano Bassani’s Big Chef Burgers in Schaumburg and its pizza con buffalo mozzarella prosciutto crudo rucola e pomodorini. (It sounds like a mouthful, and it is.)

Whether under sparkly chandeliers on Randolph Street (Nellcôte) or adjacent to its own liquor store on the Northwest Side (Marie’s), every establishment shares at least one trait: Its pizza has that indefinable quality that keeps you reaching for another slice long past the point of hunger, or even sanity. 

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1

Coalfire

  • What Artisanal pizza heaven
  • Where West Town and Lake View
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Lasagna
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2

Macello

  • What Colorful trattoria
  • Where West Loop
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Pugliese
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3

Piece

  • What Brewpub and pizzeria
  • Where Wicker Park
  • Style New Haven
  • Top pie Plain
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4

Santullo’s Eatery

  • What Drab storefront
  • Where Wicker Park
  • Style New York
  • Top pie Pepperoni
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5

Boiler Room

  • What Industrial-chic bar
  • Where Logan Square
  • Style New York
  • Top pie Hawaiian
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6

Vito & Nick’s

  • What Throwback storefront
  • Where Ashburn
  • Style Chicago thin
  • Top pie Half sausage, half cheese
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7

Big Chef Burgers

  • What Spiffy café
  • Where Schaumburg
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie No. 7
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8

Pizzeria da Nella

  • What Low-key pizzeria
  • Where Lincoln Park
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Cavani
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9

Bartoli’s

  • What Bare-bones storefront
  • Where Roscoe Village
  • Style Deep dish
  • Top pie Bartoli’s Chicago Classic
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10

Tocco

  • What Two-and-a-half-star Italian restaurant
  • Where Wicker Park
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Rustica
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11

Balena

  • What Three-star Italian restaurant
  • Where Lincoln Park
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Sausage
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12

Elio Pizza on Fire

  • What Strip-mall pizzeria
  • Where Addison
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Ortolana (eggplant)
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13

Eataly

  • What Italian superstore
  • Where River North
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Margherita
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14

Dante’s Pizzeria

  • What Scruffy joint
  • Where Logan Square and Avondale
  • Style New York-ish
  • Top pie The Inferno
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15

Pizzeria Uno

  • What The pizzeria that spawned an empire
  • Where River North
  • Style Deep dish
  • Top pie Italian sausage
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16

Lou Malnati’s

  • What Local chain
  • Where 42 locations
  • Style Deep dish
  • Top pie Malnati Chicago Classic
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17

Union

  • What Suburban loft
  • Where Evanston
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Sausage and pepper
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18

Sono Wood Fired

  • What Smart storefront
  • Where Lincoln Park
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Speck
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19

Pizano’s

  • What Local chain
  • Where Six locations
  • Style Chicago thin
  • Top pie Cheese
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20

Pizza East

  • What Soho House’s pizzeria
  • Where West Loop
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Eggplant
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21

Fiammé Pizzeria Napoletana

  • What Suburban hot spot
  • Where Naperville
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Sweet Home Chicago
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22

Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe

  • What Stark corner storefront
  • Where Lincoln Square
  • Style New York
  • Top pie Pepperoni
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23

Nellcôte

  • What Sceney restaurant
  • Where West Loop
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Lamb merguez
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24

Parlor Pizza Bar

  • What Enormous tavern
  • Where West Loop
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Abe Froman’s Fave
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25

The Local Pizzeria

  • What Earnest BYO
  • Where North Park
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Caramelized onion
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26

Pi-Hi Café

  • What Strip-mall eatery
  • Where Roscoe Village
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Mediterranean Pi
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27

Spacca Napoli

  • What Rustic pizzeria
  • Where Ravenswood
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Margherita
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28

Reno

  • What Sunny hangout
  • Where Logan Square
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Combo (sausage and mushroom)
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29

Davanti Enoteca

  • What Polished charmer
  • Where Five locations
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Terra
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30

Roots

  • What Family-friendly sports bar
  • Where Ukrainian Village
  • Style Quad Cities
  • Top pie Charlie McKenna’s Lillie’s Q BBQ Pulled Pork
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31

Osteria La Madia

  • What Cozy-chic spot
  • Where River North
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Grape and Taleggio
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32

Nueva Italy Pizzeria

  • What Spare storefront
  • Where East Rogers Park
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Vegetarian
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33

Home Run Inn

  • What Old-school legend
  • Where Eight locations
  • Style Chicago thin
  • Top pie Laura’s Favorite
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34

Bongiorno

  • What No-frills pizzeria
  • Where River North
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Pepperoni
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35

Bar Siena

  • What Splashy tavern
  • Where West Loop
  • Style Neapolitan
  • Top pie Prosciutto and fig
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36

Borelli’s Pizza

  • What Rug-rat heaven
  • Where Lincoln Square
  • Style Thin crust
  • Top pie Quattro formagi
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37

Louisa’s Pizza & Pasta

  • What Roadhouse
  • Where Crestwood
  • Style Deep dish
  • Top pie Sausage
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38

Marie’s Pizza & Liquors

  • What Vintage corner tap
  • Where Albany Park
  • Style Chicago thin
  • Top pie Marie’s Special
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