Pizza Just as Magnificent
We all know that pizza is a Chicago delicacy. And with that comes a lot of history that has been passed down from generation to generation.
My name is Jenna and I absolutely love pizza. But being that I’m not from Chicago, I made it my mission to find out what all the buzz is around ‘Chicago Style’ pizza. Chicago Style pizza mainly comes in three forms: Deep-dish, Stuffed Deep-dish, and Thin-crust.
Below I’ve created a round-up of the places around The Magnificent Mile district that fit these descriptions.
You’ll find Giordano’s located on the corner of Rush Street and East Superior Street. The famous pizzeria’s history all began in a small northern Italian town. Mama Giordano was famous for her “Italian Easter Pie,” which was a double-crusted, cheese stuffed masterpiece that she only served on special occasions. Years later, her sons Efren and Joseph Boglio moved to Chicago to start their own pizza business and introduced their Mama’s recipe for stuffed pizza. In 1974, the first Giordano’s in the world was opened.
Giordano’s is famous for their stuffed deep-dish pizza, which includes a top and bottom crust with cheese stuffed in between and the option of additional toppings, and then the sauce and parmesan are added on top. This pizza is unique because every pizza is house made including the sauce and crust, and the cheese comes from nearby Wisconsin.
Since the pizza is made fresh and takes some time to bake, I suggest you order yourself a side of Calamari while you wait! Then enjoy a piece of Giordano’s Stuffed Deep-dish pizza at this lively, two-story restaurant. And after you’re done, you’re only a block away from the best shopping district in the city, The Magnificent Mile!
You’ll find Lou Malnati’s - Gold Coast located on North State Street. A restaurant named after its founder, Lou Malnati got his start in the 1940’s working in Chicago’s first deep-dish pizzeria, Pizzeria Uno. On March 17, 1971 he opened the first Lou Malnati’s pizzeria in Lincolnwood, IL. Lou Malnati’s has always been a family business and it is now run by Lou’s sons.
One thing that Lou Malnati’s prides themselves in is that they are known for their authentic deep-dish pizza. Deep-dish pizza has a very deep crust, creating a very thick pizza that resembles a pie. After the crust, you add a layer of cheese, a layer of toppings, and then the sauce. However, Lou Malnati’s is also famous for their butter crust recipe that Lou developed, which is thin and crispy. It’s a secret recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation and it’s made in house.
Lou Malnati’s is known for their quality ingredients. They have a special recipe for their sausage blend, a partnership with a dairy farm in Wisconsin where they get all their cheese, and every year they send a team out to California to hand select vine-ripened tomatoes. Enjoy a slice of authentic deep-dish pizza as you take in the industrial aesthetic of the restaurant, which is filled with Chicago and sports memorabilia. And after you’re done, you’re only minutes away from the Oak Street beach and downtown!
You’ll find The Original Gino’s East of Chicago located right off North Michigan Avenue on East Superior Street. Open since 1966, the original Gino’s East, developed by two tax drivers, has been offering a true Chicago deep dish pizza experience. Originally, their flagship location starting out as a one-floor pizzeria has now expanded into three, which includes a large rooftop patio with city views.
Gino’s East is known for having authentic deep-dish pizza. Famous for their gold and crunchy crust, Gino’s is also known for having a sweeter sauce. What makes Gino’s different from other pizza places is that it has a menu full of unique specialty pizzas, such as: Buffalo Chicken, Ratatouille, and Burger & Fries. In addition to the unique pizza offerings, Gino’s East also has their own Brewery and is home to Chicago’s very own “The Comedy Bar” at their River North location (500 N LaSalle).
As far as the décor, the one thing that really sets Gino’s East apart is the world-famous tradition of letting customers leave their mark in their restaurants by signing their walls. So, I suggest you order yourself a side of their homemade mozzarella sticks, some deep-dish pizza, grab a beer, and leave your mark! After you’re done, you’re only a block from The Magnificent Mile, or you can head over to the River North location for a comedy show!
You’ll find Labriola located on North Michigan Avenue. Labriola was founded by Rich Labriola, who is Chicago’s premier artisan baker, and is known for his breads and dough. As a child, Rich gained an appreciation of pizza and of hospitality in his father’s small pizza shop. Rich eventually came back to pizza and other Italian favorites when opening Labriola Chicago in 2015 to bring the textures and tastes of Italian tradition to an innovative dining experience.
While Labriola is known for their deep-dish pizza, which was voted #1 in Chicago by Steve Dolinksy in his book ‘Pizza City, USA: 101 Reasons Why Chicago Is America’s Greatest Pizza Town’, their thin crust pizza is increasing in popularity! Thin crust pizza has crust that is thin but firm enough to have a noticeable crunch. And the order goes: crust, sauce, cheese and toppings.
Labriola’s pizza sauce is made with special brands of tomatoes but something they mention that differentiates themselves is that their cheese is caramelized, meaning it’s baked until crispy. Their ingredients are also all fresh. They use Russo sausage on their pizzas, their pepperoni is Chicago style--so, the moisture content is higher-; and they’re careful about their cheese and its moisture content. The cheese that they use on their thin crust and deep-dish pizzas comes from Wisconsin.
Labriola has a neighborhood feel and is upbeat but casual. It’s fine dining Italian food, but in a relaxed atmosphere. There are three dining areas here: main dining, semi-private, and private. A fun fact that I learned was that Rich Labriola brought Stan’s Donuts to Chicago, which is originally California based. So, after you’ve enjoyed your choice of Chicago Style pizza, step right over to their Stan’s Donut shop located right in the restaurant and enjoy yourself a sweet treat before continuing your shopping on The Magnificent Mile!
Frankie's Pizza by the Slice
You’ll find Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice located on Navy Pier. Frankie’s was started by Chris “Big Frankie” Favero, who created a pizza crust that takes an American spin on the traditional Neapolitan Pizza. Frankie’s started as a restaurant in the Gold Coast, but Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice is an extension of Frankie’s 5th Floor Pizzeria that was once located at 900 N Michigan Avenue.
Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice is Italian Neapolitan styled pizza, which is a style of pizza that originated in Italy. This pizza is a type of thin crust pizza and is cooked in a very hot oven so the crust bubbles. Frankie’s most well-known pizza is their Margherita Pizza, which includes tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Frankie’s also uses Italian beef and cheese on their pizzas. Although the name might suggest that they only serve pizza by the slice, Frankie’s also offers individual pan pizzas, a variety of hot sandwiches, and Frankie’s frozen lemonade.
Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice is a fast-casual dining experience. There are no waiter or waitresses. All you need to do is go up to the counter, order, and then you can sit and enjoy your meal. After you’ve enjoyed your pizza or hot sandwich and some frozen lemonade, you can enjoy the rest of your day exploring Navy Pier!600 E Grand AvenueChicago, IL 60611