What Makes Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza So Unique?

Ask any Chicagoan for their favorite deep dish spot and opinions are likely to come firing away. From chains like Lou Malnati's and Giordano's to less famous spots, when you're in Chicago deep dish is always right around the corner. Chicago-style deep dish of course differs from thin crust pizza, but it also has some defining factors that help it stand out from other deep dish pizza styles, like Detroit, per Home Cooked World. Probably not something you would want to grab a slice of for a quick lunch — like, say, a New York sliceTaste describes Chicago-style deep dish as the kind of pie you dig into occasionally, often as a celebration.

Chicago-style deep dish originated in the 1940s at Pizzeria Uno, per the BBC, as owners Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo were looking to offer the growing Italian immigrant community in Chicago's Near North Side something different from the common Neapolitan pies. Who, exactly, invented the deep dish pizza is however disputed, with some crediting employee Rudy Malnati (the father of none other than Lou Malnati) as the one with the culinary spark.

Dig into this savory cake

From the bottom-up, Taste describes characteristic Chicago-style deep dish pizza as starting with a dough pressed into a circular pan, similar looking to one you would use to bake a cake. The dough crisps up on the edges, creating a foundation firm enough to stand up to the weight of what comes next. On top of the dough, the following layer is chock full of what you typically see on top of a pizza: cheese, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, spinach, or whatever else you ordered in your preferred pie. Finally, the pizza gets topped with a blanket of tomato sauce and tossed in the oven, and out comes a flaky-crusted masterpiece (via Home Cooked World).

Given the thick, layered nature of Chicago-style deep dish pizza, the slices are eaten with a fork and knife, per BBC. Servers at your deep dish joint will bring the entire pan out, often pre-sliced to perfection, to help keep the mess contained to hungry diner's plates. Classic pizza joint options like Parmesan, red pepper flakes, or even plain old oregano shaken on top is encouraged.