It’s just as easy as ever to rile 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!" Cue Jon Stewart’s epic rant (he’s wrong about hot dogs, by the way).
They’re right, but it’s here to stay. All the more interesting to note it was not an overnight success (they had to give it away at first), and that the thick, buttery pizza wasn’t even the foundation for the restaurant’s initial idea.
Consider Chicago Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel’s report about Uno’s beginnings, which suggests, "Chicago-style pizza may owe its existence to a bad enchilada." Uno founders Ike Sewell (a Texan) and Ric Riccardo planned to serve Mexican fare, “But one of the sample meals the partners tested made Riccardo so sick that he rejected Mexican food." When Riccardo suggested pizza, which he’d experienced in Italy during the war, Sewell proposed a more substantial version than what was available in Little Italy. Thus, the style featuring "buttery ‘out-of-this-world’ crust" and generous amounts of cheese.
Sure, the company is now based in Boston, and there are presently more than 140 Uno Chicago Grill restaurants in some 24 states, South Korea, and the Middle East. Certainly, pizza experts will quibble about where, or if, it should rank on this list, and compare it with Chicago’s other deep-dish pies, but there’s something to be said about visiting the original in Chicago (though the only Chicagoans visiting will be there to accompany 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.
— Arthur Bovino, 101 Best Pizzas in America 2015, 8/6/2015