Take A Pizza Tour From A True Chicago Expert
As with many great things, Pizza City USA Tours were born out of a combination of love and frustration. “I was super annoyed reading yet another listicle online of the 7 hottest pizza places in Chicago,” explained founder (and Chicago food superstar) Steve Dolinsky. “And I had been to one of them that week and thought, this makes no sense.” Dolinsky, who you probably know as ABC7’s Hungry Hound, was startled to find that no one had done a really-for-real deep dive into Chicago pizza. So, he started eating.
185 pizza places (and some acid reflux and a lot of yoga) later, Dolinsky is, likely, the most comprehensive expert on Chicago pizza in the world. “In January and February of 17, I started on this major quest, doing 3 a day,” Dolinsky remembered. “People talk about ‘3-a-days’ as if it were a workout, but mine were pizza!” The result: a new book coming in September called Pizza City USA: 101 Reasons Chicago is America’s Greatest Pizza Town. If you can’t wait that long (and want to eat pizza yourself), Dolinsky has also started his own tour company.
“There’s an interest in Chicago pizza, and I wanted to do something to talk about pizza before September 15,” explained Dolinsky. He’s launched a series of four tours covering different parts of Chicago and different styles of pizza. Some are walking tours, some are bus tours, but no matter which you choose, you’re gonna get your fill.
Be warned, though: this might not be what you think of as “Chicago Pizza.”
“Chicago is really a city of thin crust,” insisted Dolinsky. “My analogy: deep dish is to Chicago what Times Square is to New York. It’s a thing for tourists, locals could really care less.” Most of the pizzas he’s covering in the book and on the tours are from a variety of non-deep dish styles, including tavern-style, Detroit-style, Neapolitan and Roman. A tour will visit places with different styles; for example, one of his bus tours will visit Labriola on Michigan Avenue for deep dish, Pizzeria Bebu for an artisan pie, Pat’s for a tavern-style pizza and Dante’s for a New York-style slice.
Tickets for the tours are already on sale, and they’ll be hosted by Dolinsky and the expert guides he has personally trained. Walking tours will run until it starts snowing, and the mix of places and tours will depend somewhat on demand. They cost between $49 and $69, which includes plenty of pizza.
Dolinsky sees this as his opportunity to expose people, both locals and tourists, to some of the hidden gems of Chicago pizza. “People don’t get into the neighborhoods enough. There’s so much more than Deep Dish and your neighborhood pizza joint.”