Crusts Worth Craving: Uncovering the Hidden Gems of Chicago’s Mom and Pop Pizza Scene
Chicago is known for its deep dish pizza, but there’s more to the city’s pizza scene than just the famous pie. Hidden away in neighborhoods across the city are mom and pop pizzerias serving up some of the most delicious crusts you’ve ever tasted. From thin and crispy to thick and chewy, these pizzerias have perfected the art of pizza-making over generations. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know where to start? That’s where we come in. We’ve scoured the city to uncover the hidden gems of Chicago’s mom and pop pizza scene, and we’re excited to share our findings with you. Join us as we take a journey through the city’s diverse pizza landscape and discover crusts worth craving. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, you won’t want to miss out on these delicious pizza experiences.
The History of Pizza in Chicago
The history of pizza in Chicago dates back to the early 1900s when Italian immigrants arrived in the city. The first pizza restaurant in Chicago, Pizzeria Uno, opened its doors in 1943, and it’s still serving up deep dish pizza to this day. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that deep dish pizza became famous in Chicago. Today, Chicago-style deep dish pizza is known worldwide and is a must-try for any pizza lover visiting the city.
But the city’s pizza scene is much more diverse than just deep dish pizza. Over the years, mom and pop pizzerias have popped up all over the city, serving up everything from thin and crispy crusts to thick and chewy crusts. These pizzerias are the backbone of Chicago’s pizza scene, and they have perfected the art of pizza-making over generations.
The Rise of Mom and Pop Pizza Shops
The rise of mom and pop pizza shops in Chicago can be attributed to the city’s diverse neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own unique character and culture, and the pizzerias in these neighborhoods reflect that diversity. These pizzerias are often family-owned and operated, and they take pride in serving their communities with delicious pizza.
One of the reasons why mom and pop pizzerias are so popular is because of the personal touch that they bring to their pizzas. Unlike chain pizzerias, mom and pop pizzerias often use unique toppings and flavor combinations that reflect the tastes of their communities. They also take the time to get to know their customers and often have a loyal following of regulars.
What Sets Mom and Pop Pizza Apart?
What sets mom and pop pizza apart from other pizzerias is the attention to detail and the quality of ingredients. Many mom and pop pizzerias use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, which makes all the difference in the taste of the pizza. They also take the time to make their own dough and sauce, which adds to the unique flavor of their pizzas.
Another thing that sets mom and pop pizza apart is the variety of crusts that they offer. While deep dish pizza may be the most famous pizza in Chicago, mom and pop pizzerias offer a variety of crusts, from thin and crispy to thick and chewy. This means that there’s a pizza for everyone, no matter what your preference is.
Top Mom and Pop Pizza Shops in Chicago
Now that you know what sets mom and pop pizza apart, it’s time to dive into some of the top mom and pop pizzerias in Chicago. These pizzerias have been serving up delicious pizza for generations, and they’re a must-try for any pizza lover visiting the city.
### 1. Pequod’s Pizza
Pequod’s Pizza is a hidden gem located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. This mom and pop pizzeria is famous for its caramelized crust, which is achieved by putting the cheese on the edge of the crust and baking it until it’s crispy and golden brown. The result is a crust that is sweet, savory, and oh-so-delicious. Pequod’s also offers a variety of unique toppings, such as shrimp and jalapeños, that are worth trying.
### 2. Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria
Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria is a South Side institution that has been serving up thin and crispy pizza for over 90 years. This mom and pop pizzeria has won numerous awards for its pizza, and it’s easy to see why. The crust is thin and crispy, with just the right amount of chewiness, and the sauce is tangy and flavorful. Vito & Nick’s also offers a variety of toppings, such as giardiniera and Italian beef, that are unique to Chicago.
### 3. Burt’s Place
Burt’s Place is located in Morton Grove, just outside of Chicago, and is famous for its deep dish pizza. This mom and pop pizzeria was started by Burt Katz, who is considered a legend in the Chicago pizza scene. Burt’s Place uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients and makes its own dough and sauce, which adds to the unique flavor of its pizzas. The crust is thick and chewy, with a crispy edge, and the toppings are piled high.
Pizza Crusts Worth Trying
While deep dish pizza may be the most famous pizza in Chicago, there are plenty of other crusts worth trying. Here are a few of our favorites:
### 1. Thin and Crispy
Thin and crispy pizza is a Chicago classic. This type of pizza is made with a thin crust that is crispy and crunchy, with just the right amount of chewiness. If you’re looking for a classic Chicago-style thin crust pizza, check out Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria.
### 2. Stuffed Pizza
Stuffed pizza is similar to deep dish pizza, but it’s even thicker and has more toppings. This type of pizza is made by layering cheese and toppings on top of the crust and then covering it with another layer of crust. If you’re looking for a delicious stuffed pizza, check out Giordano’s.
### 3. Caramelized Crust
Caramelized crust pizza is a unique crust that is achieved by baking the cheese on the edge of the crust until it’s crispy and golden brown. This type of crust is sweet and savory, and it’s a must-try for any pizza lover. Check out Pequod’s Pizza for a delicious caramelized crust pizza.
Unique Toppings to Try
One of the things that sets mom and pop pizza apart is the unique toppings that they offer. Here are a few toppings that are worth trying:
### 1. Italian Beef
Italian beef is a Chicago classic, and it’s a delicious topping for pizza. This topping is made by thinly slicing beef and cooking it in a savory broth. If you’re looking for a delicious Italian beef pizza, check out Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria.
### 2. Giardiniera
Giardiniera is a spicy pickled vegetable mix that is a staple in Chicago. This topping adds a nice kick to pizza and pairs well with other toppings, such as sausage or pepperoni. If you’re looking for a delicious giardiniera pizza, check out Burt’s Place.
### 3. Shrimp
Shrimp may not be a traditional pizza topping, but it’s a delicious addition to any pizza. This topping pairs well with spicy toppings, such as jalapeños or giardiniera. If you’re looking for a delicious shrimp pizza, check out Pequod’s Pizza.
Pizza and Beer Pairings
One of the best things about pizza is that it pairs well with beer. Here are a few pizza and beer pairings to try:
### 1. Thin and Crispy Pizza with a Pilsner
Thin and crispy pizza pairs well with a light, crisp beer, such as a pilsner. The lightness of the beer complements the thin crust of the pizza. Check out Half Acre Brewing Company for a delicious pilsner.
### 2. Stuffed Pizza with an IPA
Stuffed pizza pairs well with a hoppy beer, such as an IPA. The bitterness of the beer balances out the richness of the pizza. Check out Revolution Brewing for a delicious IPA.
### 3. Deep Dish Pizza with a Stout
Deep dish pizza pairs well with a rich, full-bodied beer, such as a stout. The bold flavors of the beer complement the hearty toppings of the pizza. Check out Goose Island Brewery for a delicious stout.
How to Support Local Mom and Pop Pizza Shops
If you want to support local mom and pop pizza shops, there are a few things that you can do. First, spread the word about your favorite pizzerias to your friends and family. Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to support small businesses. Second, order directly from the pizzeria, rather than using a third-party delivery service. This ensures that the pizzeria gets all of the profits from the sale. Finally, leave a positive review on Yelp or Google. This helps other people discover the pizzeria and shows the owners that their hard work is appreciated.
Chicago’s mom and pop pizza scene is a hidden gem that is worth exploring. From thin and crispy to thick and chewy crusts, these pizzerias have perfected the art of pizza-making over generations. The quality of ingredients and attention to detail that these pizzerias bring to their pizzas is what sets them apart from other pizzerias. So the next time you’re in Chicago, make sure to check out some of these hidden gems and discover crusts worth craving.