#51 Pizzeria Uno, Chicago, (Numero Uno)
It’s just as easy as ever to rile up New Yorkers with the old "Chicago’s pizza is better than New York’s" poke. "But it’s not even pizza," they’ll exclaim, "it’s a casserole for crying out loud!" They’re right, but it’s a pizza style here to stay. All the more interesting to note it was not an overnight success (they had to give it away until customers were acclimated), and that the thick, buttery pizza wasn’t the foundation for the restaurant’s initial idea. Consider Chicago Tribune’s restaurant critic Phil Vettel’s report about Uno’s beginnings, which suggests, "Chicago-style pizza may owe its existence to a bad enchilada."
When Uno founders Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo were first planning, Sewell (a Texan) wanted to serve Mexican food, "But one of the sample meals the partners tested made Riccardo so sick that he rejected Mexican food entirely." When Riccardo suggested pizza, which he’d experienced in Italy during the war, Sewell suggested a more substantial version than what was readily available in Little Italy.
Thus, the style featuring "buttery ‘out-of-this-world’ crust," and the generous amounts of cheese. Sure, the company is now based in Boston. No, you don’t have to visit Chicago to experience it (according to the company, there are more than 140 Uno Chicago Grill restaurants found in 24 states). And certainly, some pizza experts will quibble about where it should rank on this list, and compared with the city’s other deep-dish pies, but there’s something to be said about visiting the original spot in Chicago (even though the only Chicagoans there will be there on behalf of out-of-town guests) and ordering "Numero Uno — The One. The Best" topped with the works: sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms, chunky tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Romano.