What is the story behind Chicago deep dish pizza?

What is the story behind Chicago deep dish pizza?

This article used to be produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Deep dish pizza is synonymous with Chicago. A thick, bread-like contaminated topped with layers of mozzarella and corpulent tomato sauce is the glorious fortification, some would possibly maybe presumably moreover argue, against the notoriously long and chilly Chicago winters. 

No longer everybody appreciates it, nonetheless. “Chicago pizza is no longer only no longer better than Serene York pizza, it’s no longer pizza. It’s a fucking casserole,” comic (and Serene Yorker) Jon Stewart as soon as ranted on his TV programme, The Each day Indicate. And it’s factual that for these extinct to a skinny Serene York-trend sever, and even extra soft Neapolitan pizzas, deep dish can appear a little bit… low. But who can resist the entice of so vital melted cheese? Even Stewart noticed the error of his systems and publicly repented.


Consistent with the memoir perpetuated by Pizzeria Uno, Ike Sewell, the fashioned proprietor of Uno, invented deep dish pizza again in 1943. But this isn’t pretty factual, argues pizza historian Peter Regas, who’s been investigating the roots of deep dish for added than a decade. Real deep dish used to be certainly invented at 29 East Ohio Avenue (the address of Pizzeria Uno’s first restaurant) in the autumn of 1943, says Regas — but no longer by Sewell. The precise mastermind used to be it sounds as if Ric Riccardo, who discovered a pizza oven and round forged-iron pans in the kitchen when he took over the space.

Recipes for deep-dish pizza vary from restaurant to restaurant, with Italian sausage seemingly the most overall topping in Chicago these days.

Portray by Lauri Patterson. Getty Pictures

Riccardo named his restaurant Pizzeria Riccardo — but did he in actuality construct the pizza? Per chance, but he used to be a businessman and an artist, no longer a cook dinner. He’d moreover grown up in northern Italy, and pizza — at the 2d tranquil a rarity in Chicago — used to be a southern Italian dish, the thin crust model originating in Naples and rustico, a hand pie stuffed with fillings together with mozzarella and tomato, being a favored facet street meals in Salento. Some sources credit Pizzeria Uno’s supervisor, Rudy Malnati Sr, or his son Lou, a bartender, with the deep dish’s invention, but Regas has discovered evidence that Malnati didn’t join the restaurant till a few years later. Meanwhile, Sewell, a Texan and a liquor distributor by exchange, didn’t accomplice with Riccardo till early 1944, and his well-known contribution to the operation used to be money.

The first deep dish pizza, in response to Regas, used to be about an scurry big — half of the high of the novel product — and whoever used to be in Riccardo’s kitchen extinct standard pizza dough, made with flour, yeast, salt and water. The latest fortified dough regarded in the Fifties courtesy of Alice Mae Redmond, a cook dinner from Mississippi who thought the fashioned wasn’t stretchy ample and included aspects from her recipe for Southern-trend biscuits — particularly oil.

Riccardo died in 1954 and Redmond and the Malnatis moved on to rival pizzerias, Gino’s East and Lou Malnati’s. Sewell, by this point the sole proprietor, changed the name to Pizzeria Uno. In 1977, he equipped up to a Boston conglomerate, which simplified the beginning build story to give him all the credit. “[The CEO] urged me, ‘Ike Sewell is our Colonel Sanders’,” Regas says, relating to the KFC figurehead. “The theory that they are the fashioned is the well-known ingredient.”

How it’s made

Crust recipes, topping alternate strategies and sauce seasonings vary from pizzeria to pizzeria, but all deep dish pizzas initiate up with a forged-iron pan lined with a yeasty dough fortified with either olive oil or butter. It’s then stuffed with heaps of mozzarella cheese, covered with toppings and finished off with a layer of tomato sauce. Although the fashioned Uno’s pizza used to be lovely cheese and tomato, one in all the most dominant toppings in Chicago these days is sausage.

Various adaptations maintain regarded over the years. Stuffed pizza, served at Nancy’s and Giordano’s, has a 2d layer of crust above the cheese. A variant is regularly referred to as pan pizza, invented at Pequod’s, has an further sprinkling of cheese between the crust and the facet of the pan, which caramelises in the course of baking.

Various chains, together with Uno’s and Lou Malnati’s, sell frozen pizzas in grocery retail outlets and by mail explain. The first recipe for dwelling cooks regarded as early as 1945, in response to Chicago Tribune archives, but most Chicagoans tranquil prefer to secure theirs from a pizzeria.

Created by the restaurant’s founder Burt Katz, Pequod’s caramelized cheese crust has a cult following.

Portray by Pequods

Where to investigate cross-check it

1. Lou Malnati’s

Founded in 1971, Lou Malnati’s is the supreme of the deep dish chains, with around 80 areas across the metropolis, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Arizona, dwelling to many expat Chicagoans. It’s distinguished for its flaky, buttery crust and immense sausage patty topping; gluten-free choices consist of a crustless pizza held together with yet extra sausage.

2. Pequod’s

Pequod’s caramelised cheese crust, invented by its founder, Burt Katz, has a cult following among Chicago pizza connoisseurs. In the occasion you slide at the weekend, be ready to depend on a desk, but only some visitors would argue it’s no longer price it. The $7.95 (£6) particular person pizza lunch particular is one in all the simplest affords in metropolis.

3. Milly’s Pizza in the Pan

Newcomer Milly’s started as founder Robert Maleski’s pandemic mission. He made lovely 20 pizzas a night and continuously equipped out: Chicagoans cherished his caramelised cheese crust and surprising topping combos equivalent to cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, bacon and pineapple. In 2021, he moved into a permanent plan in the Uptown neighborhood, the build his pizzas remain a sizzling merchandise; it’s simplest to explain upfront. A 2d space is scheduled to originate this Twelve months.

(Beloved ‘The Include’? Enjoy your manner around Chicago with these iconic dishes.)

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