“We eat Pizza!” – the phrase that Joey says in one of the episodes of FRIENDS resonates with so many of us. I’m a big pizza fan, whether it’s the desi pizza at Dominos or the artisanal ones I get to eat during my food explorations. So when my trip to Chicago was confirmed, I started working on my list of places to eat in Chicago too! And one of the dishes on the list was the famous Chicago deep dish pizza.
In this blog post, I’ll talk about my experience of dining at Pizzeria Uno, considered the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago. But is it the best? Are there vegetarian versions of the Chicago deep dish pizza? I answer all of this in this post.
But first, what’s a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza?
For a very long time, Pizza for me (and a lot of others here in India) was Dominos. The classic hand tossed, or the cheese burst are some of the popular ones here. However, I was introduced to thin crust, sourdough pizza and a whole of other varieties with exotic toppings.
Having its origins in Naples, Pizza has become a global dish and is available in all parts of the world along with a local twist. And the Chicago-style pizza or the deep dish pizza is one such twist.
The Chicago-style deep dish pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in the 1940s. However, like everything in History, even this is quite clear. Some believe this to be true, but there’s a feeling that the original recipe for the deep dish pizza was by Rudy Malnati who worked as a chef at Pizzeria Uno. Both split and Malnati’s son started his own pizza chain called Lou Malnati’s – which I couldn’t visit.
Enough of history, what is deep dish pizza? The distinguishing factor between a regular and deep dish pizza is the higher edge of the deep dish pizza. The mould in which the deep dish pizza is prepared gives it a more than normal higher edge that allows it to have more stuffing. So the crust continues to the edge.
My Pizzeria Uno Experience
One fine day after heading back from the conference, I planned to dine at Pizzeria Uno. I had read about it and was convinced that I wanted to try the deep dish pizza here. In fact, the outlet that I went to is considered as the birthplace of the Chicago style deep dish pizza.
Ambience and Vibes
Located off the East Ohio street behind Mile High, Pizzeria Uno is easy to spot due to its characteristic exteriors. It’s a classic red-brick building with green banners of Pizzeria Uno. They have a small seating outside as well, however since it was freezing cold that night, nobody had occupied the place.
They have a tiny waiting area which is crowded at peak hours. Luckily the area is heated like most places in Chicago so one can come in and avoid waiting outside. There are posters and banners about the history and origins of the pizza in the call that you can read.
Further, one thing to note is that the deep dish pizza takes 45-60 mins to prepare. Hence if you’re waiting here, they will take your order. In my case, I had to wait for about 20-25 minutes before getting to my table.
On the inside too, it looked like a typical old-school diner with a large bar, furniture and a chequered floor. The bar is decently large, but cannot accommodate many people. They have “family/group” dining areas along with smaller tables where I was seated. NHL was running live on the TV, music was being played and the bar was pretty busy. Overall, good and busy vibes.
First Experience With Deep Dish Pizza
My order was already taken while I was waiting, however, I was given a menu to choose anything else. They have a few side dishes, drinks and stuff on the menu. I ordered a drink, a slush that was served almost instantly. For the pizza, there are only two vegetarian varieties – Veggie and Spinoccoli. I ordered the latter one since that’s a speciality of Pizzeria Uno.
Talking about the pizza, there are different sizes including individual, small, medium and large. I don’t quite know the sizes, but I ordered the individual one because of the name assuming it was for one person. It was similar to the pizza-mania size we got at Dominos here in India.
Soon the pizza was in front of me, piping hot and covered with bright red tomato sauce. Unlike the regular pizzas, there wasn’t cheese shredded all over it. PS: They serve parmesan cheese along with oregano for seasoning. First things first, when you first see this, you’ll be confused about how to eat this because, in terms of thickness, this looks like a cake!
I took my knife and fork and started cutting the sides and eating it. The crust is hard, so it does take some effort to break it. But it’s relatively easier when it’s hot. On the inside, there was spinach, broccoli, cheese and tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is different, tangy but not sweet. Even the spinach you get there is different from what we see here in India. It did taste bland though, so I had lots of oregano and parmesan with every bit and that made it taste better for me.
One thing that I can say for sure is that the individual size is large enough for one person because of the massive stuffing. Luckily I didn’t have lunch that day so I could eat 70% of it easily, but that last 30% was difficult to finish.
Should You Try The Deep Dish Pizza?
It was my first time eating the Chicago style deep dish pizza and to anyone who’s never eaten it, you must try it. It’s different. I’m sure my meat-eating friends have more options, but the vegetarian options aren’t bad. The serving style is unique and so is the eating style. It’s loaded with toppings but can taste bland for people from India who usually eat a lot of spice and masala. Another thing to note is that the crust gets harder as time passes, so ensure to eat it quickly.
Lastly, I paid about $14.99 for the pizza along with $5.99 for the drink which seemed reasonable considering the prices I saw at other places in the city. If it was India, I would have surely looked at some food apps for discounts, but that’s fine.
Overall, I was quite satisfied with the experience. I had experienced the Chicago deep dish style pizza and that was it. If you’ve never eaten it, try it once for sure. Feel free to comment down below if you have any queries. You can also DM me on Twitter at @Atulmaharaj, DM @Atulmaharaj on Instagram, or Get In Touch.