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Deep dish or thin, Chicago ranks No. 1 in pizza

  • Written by Joe Boyle

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In case you missed it, a day of importance has just passed and many of us were unaware.

No, I’m not talking about the election that took place on Tuesday. I’m also not referring to opening day of major league baseball.

This past Wednesday, April 5, was National Deep Dish Pizza Day. To be perfectly frank, I never heard of National Pizza Day. The only reason I know about it now is that I received a couple of emails this week.

A few of them mention about the so-called debate regarding Chicago pizza vs. New York pizza. One survey stated that 51 percent of Americans prefer Chicago-style deep dish pizza, while 49 percent prefer New York-style pizza.

I don’t even know what to make of that. An online agency conducts a survey comparing Chicago and New York pizzas. According to the survey, they interviewed “Americans.” I guess that means they randomly contacted people from coast to coast for their opinions.

It probably would make more sense to talk to Chicagoans and New Yorkers. I think they will give plenty of reasons for why they like their pizzas. A large reason natives of both cities like their specific pizzas is that they have grown up with them.

And you know what? That’s fine with me. Quite frankly, I don’t look at this as some type of competition. I’ve never been to New York City but I assume they have some good pizzas. I had some pizza in Boston once, dining in the Italian section of the city. The pizza was quite tasty.

But I think most of us would agree that Chicago has some of the best pizza around. At least it stands out among pizzas served in other American cities. I mention the U.S. because if you had a slice of pizza in Italy, it would be something completely different.

Chicagoans often have a chip on their shoulders. I suppose that comes from trying to elude stereotypes made about the city. Al Capone has been dead for decades. Yet some people will still make references to the once notorious gangster. We also survived the 1968 Democratic Convention, although Hollywood and celebrities stayed away for years.

But that is in the distant past. Now Chicago has several TV shows filming here, along with many movies. Michael Jordan actually became a bigger name than Capone. At least Jordan has a statue in his honor.

Yet, there are still some misconceptions about Chicago. Most TV shows or films that are supposed to be about the city follow a familiar theme. But the facts are we are not all Cub fans and not everyone hangs around the North Side.

And not every Chicagoan eats deep dish pizza. We have certain pizza establishments who make it better than others. But we also have great thin-crust pizzas throughout the city and yes, the south suburbs, too. I think a lot of us grew up with a favorite pizza establishment in our local neighborhoods.

We had one certain pizza place that we would order from and enjoyed. They would deliver and we would often go to pick it up at 103rd and Elizabeth in Chicago. Looking back, the pizza was a little greasy but we loved it just the same. Julian High School was eventually built across the street and our favorite pizza place moved to Western Avenue. They would not deliver anymore but we would drop in there often.

For pizza lovers, it seems you don’t have to go far to find one or two great places in the area. That’s what great about Chicago. These pizza restaurants are not chains but mostly family-run businesses. Many of them have brought up a loyal following that dates back to the old neighborhoods where they originated.

Chicago-style pizza is a little thicker than other locations. The sausage is baked in the cheese, along with the added ingredients. Many Chicago pizzas are cooked a variety of ways. But New York does not have a monopoly on thin-crust pizza.

The real measure of Chicago pizza is that when you leave the metropolitan area, the quality of the pizza diminishes. Within about a two-mile radius from my current home, I can order or pick up pizza at nearly 10 restaurants and all of them are well above average.

I don’t think you can say that about other cities. Los Angeles may have the glitz but not a good pizza. National Pizza Day has passed but I don’t think Chicagoans mind. Good pizza is just a phone call or a short drive away.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .