Sausage and Giardiniera at Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream
This tavern-style pizza pays respect to legends like Vito & Nick’s, but it’s no copycat. The trio of friends behind it are the same ones who started the Instagram pop-up Eat Free Pizza. They’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves, like a dough that’s cold-fermented for a week and baked dark for maximum flavor, bracing giard from J.P. Graziano Grocery, and a blitz of fresh sage that infuses the juicy sausage with an earthy fragrance. $23. 960 W. 31st St., Bridgeport — Cate Huguelet
Pepperoni at Paulie Gee’s Wicker Park
The original Paulie Gee’s in Logan Square put itself on the Chicago pizza map with textbook Neapolitan and Detroit-style pies. At the new Wicker Park outlet, Derrick Tung has proved there’s no shape, depth, or genre of crust he and his crew can’t conquer. At any given time, you’ll find half a dozen New York–style slices, sold by the giant, foldable wedge. The pepperoni, with oil-slicked cups that balance crisp and chewy, is the most satisfying. $4.50. 1566 N. Damen Ave., Wicker Park — Carly Boers
Half and Half at Pizza Finestra
When Superkhana International furloughed its staff last year, it let them use the kitchen to work on their own projects. Cornelius Bouknight started making pizza alla pala, a style he encountered on his honeymoon in Rome, and offering it out of the restaurant for lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The crusts are crackly, with an airy interior. Order the Half and Half: One side is slathered with nothing more than high-quality canned tomatoes blended with olive oil and salt, while the other features lightly brined Yukon potatoes, onions, and rosemary, drizzled with olive oil. $16. 3059 W. Diversey Ave., Logan Square — Titus Ruscitti
Sunny Tomato at Pizza Friendly Pizza
His fine-dining Oriole put on hold, chef Noah Sandoval teamed with restaurateur Bruce Finkelman to open a Sicilian-style pizza spot in the former Bite Cafe. The star of this pizza is the thick and airy crust, and the pies here come adorned with fancy and surprising toppings. This one (also available by the slice) is slathered with a funky black garlic pesto and dressed with both sun-dried and pickled green tomatoes. It all adds up to a flavor bomb of a veggie pie that can be made vegan on request. $30 ($3.75 a slice). 1039 N. Western Ave., Ukrainian Village — Amy Cavanaugh
ClickBait at Milly’s Pizza in the Pan
A COVID-furloughed 16-year restaurant veteran, Robert Maleski opened this virtual restaurant, making a few dozen pizzas a day out of a rented kitchen. His deep-dish crusts are blanketed in mozzarella and have a salted, crisped, and caramelized perimeter à la Pequod’s and Burt’s. It’s the toppings, though — a rainbow of peppers, tomatoes, onions, Sicilian olives, mushrooms, and fresh ricotta — that warrant this particular pie’s name. $26 for 10 inch, $30 for 14 inch. 1801 N. Spaulding Ave., Logan Square — C.B.
Margherita at Professor Pizza
When the pandemic scuttled Tony Scardino’s plans to open a stall at a food hall, the Publican veteran, who has slung pies at Dough Bros. and Paulie Gee’s, began selling grandma-style pizzas out of Wrigleyville’s Full Shilling Public House. His thin, square crusts are super crunchy and topped with perfectly calibrated combinations, as on the margherita, which has two types of mozzarella, garlic, oregano, and dollops of tangy tomato sauce and a vibrant herb pistou. Though the Full Shilling residency has ended, you can find his pizzas at events this summer. $23. Follow on Instagram at @professorpizza. — A.C.
Amatrice’ Yo-self at Pizza Lobo
After selling slices from Lone Wolf for a few years, Heisler Hospitality entered the bumping Logan Square pizza scene. Chef Dan Snowden’s hard-to-classify crust leans New York style, with a billowy edge and speckly charred underside. Half a dozen specialty pies come topped with unexpected ingredients; this one features pancetta, roasted tomatoes, pecorino, onions, and plenty of Calabrian chiles — elements of the spicy pasta sauce it’s named for — and leaves your tongue tingling. $29. 3000 W. Fullerton Ave., Logan Square — C.B.
BBQ Katsu Chicken at Chef Bill Kim’s Pizza & Parm Shop
Urbanbelly chef Bill Kim launched his Detroit-style virtual restaurant in Wicker Park and Oak Brook last year. He tops the thick, buttery crusts with creative combos, like Korean barbecue beef and kimchi, but the best is this chicken katsu offering. He loads it up with chunks of fried bird, scallions, mozz, Parmesan, and a spicy-sweet sauce — it’s basically a fusion homage to chicken parm. Though the Oak Brook spot is on hiatus, you can still get pizzas at Urbanbelly. $19. 1542 N. Damen Ave., Wicker Park — A.C.
Hot Oil Stinger at Paper Thin Pizza
You can get these pies at Soho House’s Fox Bar now, but Andrew Anthony, who worked on the admin side at Hogsalt Hospitality prepandemic, started out making them in his Bridgeport apartment. He packed his menu with riffs on some of the country’s best thin-crust offerings. Try his take on the iconic pizza from Colony Grill in Stamford, Connecticut: It’s a cracker-thin pizza topped with mozzarella and brick cheese, a light layer of sauce, and large slices of roasted jalapeños. $17. 113–125 N. Green St., West Loop — T.R.
Mushroom at Ludlow Liquors
The neighborhood bar was closed for much of last year — except for exceptional takeout pizzas from chef Mickey Neely. Now that it has reopened, you can still get the Sicilian-style offerings on Sundays. This particular one is a dream for fungi fans. The thick, crisp crust is slathered with a rich green garlic and mushroom cream, then topped with mozzarella, ricotta, loads of beech mushrooms, and diced chives — a combination that provides more deep bass flavor than a Barry White album. $21. 2959 N. California Ave., Avondale — A.C.