Deep dish pizza is one of the most contentious foods on the American culinary scene today, largely because of its relationship to New York-style thin crust pizza. The Chicago creation (it was actually invented at the original Pizzeria Uno) is — yes, technically — a casserole, but it can also be astoundingly delicious when it’s done right. So let’s put aside the arguments for today and celebrate the best deep dish pizzas in America.
So what exactly is deep dish? It starts with a dish (a deep one), preferably cast iron, and dough (more buttery and crumbly than other pizza doughs) that’s pressed into it. Then comes cheese, toppings, more cheese, maybe more toppings, and plenty of chunky tomato sauce on top. The end result is a cheesy, delicious gut bomb. For today’s purposes, we’re including two close Chicago relatives: stuffed pizza, which has an extra layer of crust below the sauce, and pan pizza, which has a slightly different crust and a layer of caramelized cheese around the exterior. By just about everyone’s estimation, all three of these styles can count as “Chicago deep dish.” Similar styles, like Sicilian and Detroit-style, would never really be called “deep dish,” so we’re not considering them here.
Deep dish pizza is still widely regarded as a regional style native to Chicago (even though there’s some amazing thin-crust pizzas to be found in Chicago, too), but thankfully you don’t need to travel to Chicago to get a real taste of deep dish anymore. Not only do most of Chicago’s most legendary deep dish establishments have newer locations across the country (and a few of them even ship), there are independent pizzerias all across America that are turning out some deep dish pies that will give even Chicagoans pause. Heck, there’s even a spot in New York City, run by a Chicago transplant, that’s convincing deep dish’s most hard-nosed detractors that with a truly great deep dish pizza, there’s plenty to love. Read on for the slideshow, and click here for the 101 best pizzas in America.