Chicago-style pizza is pizza produced in one of several forms established in Chicago and is commonly referred to as “deep dish pizza” due to its cooking method. The baking pan gives the pizza its distinctively high edge, allowing plenty of room for enormous amounts of cheese and chunky tomato sauce. Deep-dish and filled pizzas are both options for Chicago-style pizza.
There is an insufficient record to determine who originated Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, according to Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s official cultural historian. Ike Sewell, the founder of Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, is said to have invented Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in 1943. According to the descendants of Saverio Rosati, the recipe was developed by Uno’s original pizza chef Rudy Malnati, according to a 1956 article in the Chicago Daily News, and Michele Mohr of the Chicago Tribune reports that the menu at Rosati’s Authentic Chicago Pizza has included deep-dish since it opened in 1926.
The main distinction between deep-dish pizza and most other types of pizza is that the crust is quite deep, as the name implies, resulting in a very thick pizza that looks more like a pie than a flatbread. The crust of typical Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas is thin to medium in thickness, despite the fact that the entire pizza is fairly thick.
Deep-dish pizza is baked in a cast-iron skillet or a spherical steel pan that resembles a cake or pie pan rather than a traditional pizza pan. The pan is greased to make removal easier and to give the crust a cooked appearance on the outside. The pizza dough may contain cornmeal, semolina, or food coloring in addition to regular wheat flour, giving the crust a characteristic yellowish tone. The dough is pressed up against the pan’s sides to create a bowl for a thick layer of toppings.
Deep-dish pizza’s thick layer of toppings necessitates a longer baking time (usually 30-45 minutes), which could burn cheese or other toppings if utilized as the top layer.
As a result, the toppings are arranged “backward” from how they would be on a pizza. The cheese (usually sliced mozzarella) is applied to the crust, followed by numerous meat alternatives such as pepperoni or sausage, the latter of which is occasionally in a solid patty-like layer. After that, other toppings like onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers are added.
As a finishing layer, an uncooked sauce, normally made from crushed canned tomatoes, is applied; however, a dusting of Parmesan cheese is often added for extra flavour.
When ordering pizza for takeout or delivery, the crust is usually left uncut to avoid moisture from the sauce and toppings from soaking into the dough and making the pie soggy.
Some Chicago deep-dish pizza joints send partially baked and frozen pizzas throughout the continental United States.
By the mid-1970s, two Chicago restaurants, Nancy’s Pizza (established by Rocco Palese) and Giordano’s Pizzeria (owned by brothers Efren and Joseph Boglio), had begun experimenting with deep-dish pizza and had developed the stuffed pizza. Palese’s idea was inspired by his mother’s recipe for scarciedda, an Italian Easter pie from Potenza. Popularization of the dish was aided by stories in Chicago Magazine showing Nancy’s Pizza and Giordano’s loaded pizza.
Stuffed pizzas are frequently deeper than deep-dish pizzas, but the difference is often difficult to notice until it is cut into.
A stuffed pizza has a far higher density of toppings than any other form of pizza. A deep layer of dough forms a bowl in a high-sided pan, similar to deep-dish pizza, and the toppings and cheese are added. Then, on top of it, the second layer of dough is pressed to the sides of the crust. The thin dough top has a rounded, domed shape at this point.
Pizza chefs frequently poke a small hole in the top of the “lid” to enable air and steam to escape while the pie cooks, largely to prevent the pizza from exploding. Before the pizza is baked, tomato sauce is usually, but not always, ladled over the top crust.
There is also a thin-crust pizza style popular in Chicago and the rest of the Midwest. Unlike New York-style pizza, the dough is thin and solid enough to have a discernible crunch.
Instead of wedges, this pizza is cut into squares, often known as “tavern-style” or “party cut.”
Thin-crust pizza outsells the more well-known deep-dish style among residents, according to GrubHub data and Chicago Pizza Tours. GrubHub’s conclusion based on the delivery service’s user demographics has been questioned by Technomics food industry researcher Darren Tristano, and NPR pointed out that the data would not include information on some deep-dish chains that aren’t on GrubHub.