The 13 Best Pizza Places Around Chicago

By Staff in Food on Sep 24, 2015 5:40PM

Few things are more synonymous with Chicago’s food scene than pizza. And while no one will ever win the thin versus deep-dish debate—it’s subjective, after all— cheesy, perfectly-sauced slices do share something important: their all-but-universal appeal.

If you want to avoid local throngs and tourists, it’s handy to know that some of the best spots actually aren’t always the most talked about. Everyone knows Giordano's and Lou Malnati's, and yeah, they're great, but they're far from the only games in town. Whether locally beloved or nationally recognized, these places achieved cult-status for a reason: They have perfected their craft — or, in some cases, turned it on end. Here are our picks for the 13 best pizza spots in Chicago. You'll see some overlap between this list and the one we put together last year—but not a lot.

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Fasanos. Photo by Jennifer Olvera/Chicagoist.

Pizza Castle

Tucked along a strip mall-heavy stretch of Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood, this destination-worthy veteran—a labor of love from Rich Jensen—gets it all right: the hand-kneaded dough, the fennel-inflected, house-ground sausage, the Faulds oven responsible for a charred foundation and bubbly-brown cheese. Order the thin, which needs little more than the aforementioned porky topping to make you swoon. Then again, the King Arthur, a classic piled with that sausage, mushrooms, onions and green peppers, is no slouch.

Pizza Castle is located at 3256 W. 55th St.


John’s Pizzeria Ristorante & Lounge

Right out of the gate, this wood-paneled, diner-like pizzeria earns points for its vintage vibe. But its black-and-white checked floor; dank, amber glow from stained glass lighting; and stool-lined counter, Naugahyde booth or table seating aren’t what steals the show. It’s the authentic, sturdy, thin-crust with sweetly tangy sauce that makes it a Logan Square find.

John’s Pizzeria Ristorante & Lounge is located at 2104 N. Western Ave.

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John's Pizzeria. Photo by Jennifer Olvera/Chicagoist.

Fasano’s Pizza

Not far from Resurrection Cemetery lies, hands-down, the best pizza in Chicagoland. There’s no seating — just a carryout counter. That’s cool since you’ll be sneaking bites out of the paper sack — like so many do — before entering your ride. What makes this place so great? Aside from the unmistakable savory scent that emanates from the pint-sized building, it’s the attention to detail: cornmeal-dusted, hand-hewn thin crust; zingy red sauce; and stellar, perfectly seasoned Italian sausage. Be sure to call ahead; otherwise you’ll wait, drooling, for that first life-altering slice.

Fasano’s Pizza is located at 8351 S. Roberts Rd., Justice.


Pequod’s Pizza

Known for its singular deep-dish, this popular pie hole with Lincoln Park and Morton Grove outposts has the old-school feel and caramelized (okay, intentionally burned) crust down pat. Loud, perpetually crowded and demanding of a knife and fork, eating here is a bona fide Chicago experience. Our advice? Order ahead when dining in or carrying out; pizzas take upwards of 40 minutes to make and waits for tables are commonplace. Of course, the place has built-in cred: It was founded (and subsequently sold) by Burt Katz of eponymous Burt’s Place in Morton Grove.

Pequod’s Pizza is located at 2207 N. Clybourn Ave. and 8520 Fernald Ave., Morton Grove.


Candlelite

Shatteringly thin crust, unforgettable garlic fries and a quintessential working-class clientele incite terms of endearment for this Rogers Park dive bar, where Tuesdays usher in a two-for-one deal. What sets it apart, too, are the worthy white-sauced pies — in particular the signature version crowed with roasted garlic, caramelized onions and a mix of mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan and goat cheeses.

Candlelite is located at 7452 N. Western Ave.

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Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizzeria. Photo by Jennifer Olvera/Chicagoist.

Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizzeria

Think it’s crazy to cross the Indiana border for pizza? One bite in and this uncompromising Neapolitan wonder, hidden in a residential neighborhood near the dunes, will change your mind. It’s hard to say “it’s all about the crust” even if it is; turned out from a 900-degree brick oven, it doesn’t need a single other thing. Of course, that means selling the carefully-sourced, seasonal ingredients short. For example, the wood-fired, sausage-stuffed peppers — the wood-fired veggies, too — are otherworldly. As for the just-charred, chewy ‘za, go for the prosciutto, which is gussied up with pistachios, mozzarella and rosemary.

Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizzeria is located at 500 South El Portal Dr, Michiana Shores, IN.


Pat’s Pizza

This hang does a mean delivery business, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t dine in. When you do, the crackly crusted number, delicious scattered with pepperoni, or the Pat’s Special with Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers and onions will arrive piping-hot atop your checker-clothed table. While you wait, you’re going to want the fried ravioli—a rendition of the St. Louis favorite, dressed with a bruschetta-like topping of red wine vinaigrette-laden tomatoes, red onions and lemon zest.

Pat’s Pizza is located at 2679 N. Lincoln Ave.

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The Mac at Dimo's. Photo by Jennifer Olvera/Chicagoist.

Dimo’s Pizza

Okay, so, this one may be a bit of a stretch, but we think it’s worth including for the sake of its funky-fun toppings and solid, toothsome crust, which proves a fine vessel for crazy condiments. Besides, the tabs are cheap and it has late-night hours. You may be tempted by the elotes version, topped with grilled corn, roasted poblanos and cilantro-lime mayo. If it’s brunch, there’s always the Chicken n’ Waffles with its fried chicken, mini waffles and maple syrup on top. However, you’d be remiss to skip The Mac, which features a crème fraîche base topped cheddar-y mac and cheese.

Dimo’s Pizza is located at 1615 N. Damen Ave. and 3463 N. Clark St.


Marie’s Pizza & Liquors

Enter this slashie through the liquor store and encounter a stone-walled time trap with career servers, dim stained glass lighting and red vinyl booths. Not surprisingly, the meat toppings — sausage in particular — are crave-worthy. But don’t let that deter you from ordering an über-thin pizza christened with garlic and black olives. Live music Thursdays and Saturdays and crazy decorations come Christmastime only add to the experience. So does the fact that you can grab a six-pack to go.

Marie’s Pizza & Liquors is located at 4127-4129 W. Lawrence Ave.

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Mrs. T's. Photo by Jennifer Olvera/Chicagoist.

Mrs. T’s

It’s no wonder if you’ve passed this place, which is tucked into an unassuming strip mall, a zillion times. Upon walking inside, there’s nothing to wow you either; it’s a storefront with a small bar, a handful of high-top tables and, if you time it right, “Wheel of Fortune” on the single TV. However, what it lacks in luster it makes up for in umami overload. The paper-thin-crust mushroom pizza is dotted with wisps of fungi, which in turn flavors the golden-brown, gooey cheese. Order a bargain-priced pitcher of beer alongside.

Mrs. T’s is located at 246 Main St., Downers Grove.


Spacca Napoli

An essential inclusion for its Neapolitan-style pies, either red-sauced or olive oil-soused, this rustic, welcoming spot is rightly revered for its use of quality ingredients and dedication to doing it right. Sure, you can score a perfectly prepared Margherita, but lots of love goes to the Funghi, too—its bright San Marzano sauce offset by meaty ’shrooms, licorice-y basil and nutty, top-tier Pecorino. But that’s not to say the lovely antipasti, which includes a daily selection of street eats, should be ignored.

Spacca Napoli is located at 1769 W. Sunnyside Ave.


Vito & Nick's

If you’re from Chicago and you like pizza, you’ve likely heard of Vito & Nick’s. There’s a reason—actually, make it several—for that fact. Located in the off-the-beaten-track Ashburn neighborhood, this barely-lit dive bar serves killer cracker-crust squares topped with impossibly caramelized cheese. If you’re wise, it’ll also feature nubs of its legendary Italian sausage. Still, let it be said that there are reputable alternatives to this oft-covered pad—just make a day trip to Wells Brothers in Racine, Wisc.; step up to the counter at Ledo’s Pizza in Countryside; or order carryout from stunner Villa Nova Pizzeria in Summit for proof.

Vito & Nick's is located at 8433 S. Pulaski Rd.


The Art of Pizza

Sure we like Lou’s. Giordano’s and Uno are good and some even call them great. However, when going deep, you’re better off getting the stuffed spinach and fennel-scented sausage here. Justly lauded for its golden, flaky, buttery crust and sweet, rich red sauce, it also features a ridiculously generous dose of gooey mozzarella cheese.

The Art of Pizza is located at 3033 N. Ashland Ave.
By Jennifer Olvera