Sausage pizza at Vito & Nick's
This 90-plus-year-old pizzeria was voted Chicago's best spot for thin-crust by Tribune readers in 2016, and one bite through the red-sauce-smeared cracker crust, cut into squares and topped with fatty fennel sausage and melted mozzarella, and you will believe in democracy again. Not only is this one of the best Chicago-style thin-crust pizzas ever, it represents the best of a specific South Side substyle, with an addictive hard-bite crunch. The pizzeria, now in the Ashburn neighborhood on the far Southwest Side, is cash-only, and the pizzas come in only small and large. Get the large, always ($17). And if someone in the group is feeling the need for veggies? Pizza-makers are amenable to a half-and-half toppings situation, as pictured with green peppers.
8433 S. Pulaski Road, 773-735-2050, www.vitoandnicks.com
— Louisa Chu
The 'Nduja at Coalfire
This is the Leonardo DiCaprio of pizzas — it sweeps every awards list. And for good reason: Chefs whip ricotta with 'nduja (en-DOO-ya), a spicy salami that's soft enough to be spreadable (or, in this case, whippable), thanks to the high amounts of ground pork fat in the mixture. The result is a spicy cloud of fat and salt, so delicious that the rest of the pizza almost doesn't matter. For posterity: mozzarella, sausage, cherry bomb pepper and basil, all on Coalfire's signature blackened crust ($19, one size only).
1321 W. Grand Ave., 312-226-2625; 3707 N. Southport Ave., 773-477-2625, www.coalfirechicago.com
— Marissa Conrad