Across the country and throughout the world, people are continually being brought together by the promise of a pizza dinner. With options such as Chicago-style, New York-style, St. Louis-style, and even wood-fired in San Francisco, it can be confusing to figure out the differences among them. It’s no secret that Chicago-style pizza graces the top of favorite lists everywhere. But what is a Chicago-style pizza and how is it made? Where did it come from? What are there best ways to enjoy a Chicago-style pizza? Stay tuned because we’re about to answer all those and more!
The History of Chicago-Style Pizza
The Chicago version of pizza took the indulgent concept of pizza and twisted it in an entirely different direction. Before we get there, though, we’re going to give you a brief pizza history lesson. The first documented flatbread, an ancestor to the pizza we know today, occurred in 997 A.D. By the time the 16th century rolled around, the style of modern pizza we know and love was beginning to take shape in Italy in the city of Naples. This port town offered small rooms to many people passing through, and many of them were looking for something fast and inexpensive to eat, making this famous food a classic from the moment it started.
Pizza has continued to grow in popularity and spread quickly across the country, and by the 1800s, immigrants began arriving in the U.S. from Neopolitan and other European countries. Chicago became home for many first and second-generation descendants who were happy to showcase their culture. In 1943, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo created an Italian-American version of the Neapolitan classic. This crunchy crust, deep-dish version offered layers of meat, vegetables, cheese, and tomato sauce for a melt-in-your-mouth experience that has since won the hearts of millions of Americans.
How Is Chicago-Style Pizza Made?
Now that you know the history of the famous Chicago-style pizza, let’s look at how a Chicago-style pizza is made. Before you think of getting started, you’re going to need either an iron skillet or a round steel pan, much like those used to cook pies or cakes. Next, you oil the pan to guarantee a crispy, but melt-in-your-mouth crust. Place a thick layer of freshly made dough into the pan and press it out against the pan’s sides and bottom to resemble a thick pie crust.
After the dough is formed for the bottom layer, pile a sliced mozzarella cheese layer on top. Since these pizzas are thick and take a while to bake, they’re basically assembled upside down to avoid burning the cheese. After you add the cheese layer, then your fillings go on next. These include pepperoni, sausage, vegetables, and anything else you want to add. A thick sauce that is made from crushed tomatoes is spread on top of all that. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the sauce for some more flavor, and then the Chicago-style pizza is ready to go in the oven.
Other types of pizza are designed to be picked up and eaten with your hands. Once you see a Chicago-style pizza out of the oven, you’ll know why this isn’t possible with this kind of pizza. This thick, savory pie is flavorful and meant to fill you up. You’re probably going to need a fork and a knife in order to eat a Chicago-style pizza without ruining your favorite shirt.
What to Get On Your Chicago-Style Pizza
Now that you know what making a Chicago-style pizza entails, it’s time to go over some of our favorite combinations. Remember that these pizzas are incredibly filling, and it won’t take as much to satisfy your hunger as a thin-crust traditional pizza would. You can choose from sizes such as a 10-inch, 12-inch, or 14-inch if you’ve got a larger group or family that’ll be participating in taking down this impressive pie.
Popular ingredient options include meatballs, Italian beef, Italian sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, and Canadian bacon. If you feel like taking your pizza back to the roots, add some anchovies. Anchovies were almost always a part of the original Chicago-style pizzas. We love to pair these meats with vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and spinach. Adventurous pizza connoisseurs also like to add a little spice through the help of jalapenos, pepperoncini, and giardiniera, or they can even sweeten it up with pineapple. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to be satisfied with this filling pizza.
Why Are Locals and Tourists Alike in Love With Chicago-Style?
This delicious pizza offers everything that people crave when they imagine pizza: a crispy crust that isn’t crunchy on the outside but isn’t doughy either. The way it’s cooked allows it to come out as a crust that’s delicious the first time you take a bite and even later as leftovers. The sauce is full, robust, and different from the thin sauce you’re probably used to on traditional pizzas. The ingredients are piled thick, in layers and layers, and the fresh cheese is stacked in a thick layer, enough so that you don’t have to ask for the extra cheese like you have to with other styles.
If you haven’t gathered it by now, this isn’t a pizza that you can eat every day. This thick masterpiece of a meal is more of a treat that should be enjoyed for a special occasion where you’ve got plenty of time afterward to slip into a cheesy coma. If you’re ever lucky enough to grab a slice, you’ll see why this style of pizza is special enough to be known worldwide.
So there you have it, everything you could ever want to know about Chicago-style pizza. If we’ve got your mouth watering and you’re craving a taste and looking for somewhere to go, come check us out at Pequod’s Pizza. We’re located in Chicago at 2207 N Clybourn Ave. in Chicago and 8520 Fernald Ave. in Morton Grove. We offer convenient delivery options in certain areas but don’t worry if you’re not close; we also offer nationwide shipping so you can get your Chicago-style pizza anywhere.