Six regional pizza styles in Chicago
New Haven, Neapolitan and...Wisconsin.
BoJono’s In a city known for deep-dish, this hideaway is churning out tasty slices of super-thin, cheese-heavy goliaths to the hungry masses craving a taste of NYC. Mostly a storefront delivery/takeout joint, BoJono’s has a menu loaded with simple selections that fill the belly and appease those hard-core greasy cravings (we like the garlic, oil and tomato). The juicy steak sandwich—topped with bubbly cheese on toasted garlic bread—is a meat lover’s dream. Finish with a slice (or two) of the tangy cheesecake. 4185 N Clarendon Ave (773-404-9700). El: Red to Sheridan. Bus: 36, 80, 135, 145, 146, 151. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $8.
Dough Boys The dough boys behind Dough Boys—best friends and prominent chefs Jimmy Bannos Sr. and Scott Harris—wanted the pizza joint next to their restaurant Salatino’s to be a simple, unfussy slice shop. And that’s exactly what it is, a place where the meatball sandwich is soft (both the meatballs and the roll), the New York–style slices are big and foldable, and a thick Sicilian slice is substantial enough to be a meal in itself. It may be a disappointment to those who come expecting the Boys to work some of their chef magic. But to those unaware of their pedigrees, it’s as satisfying as any other cheap pizza around. 624 S Racine Ave (312-243-9799). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 7, 60. Lunch, dinner. Average slice of pizza: $4.
Ian’s Pizza The slices at this outpost of the popular Madison, Wisconsin, by-the-slice joint are foldable, New York–style thin crust, and you can order plain old cheese if you’d like, but you’ll probably want to get more creative. The best-selling slice is the mac and cheese, made with a crème-fraîche base, elbow macaroni and housemade cheese sauce. Other slices that’ll help soak up all the suds postgame also tend to stray from a traditionalist’s idea of pizza—specialties include BBQ steak and fries, and the BBFAT (black-bean spread topped with feta, avocado and tomato). 3463 N Clark St (773-525-4580). El: Red to Addison. Bus: 22, 77, 152. Dinner. Average pizza: $13.
Letizia’s Fiore The Sorano family behind Letizia’s and Enoteca Roma has combined elements of those two spots into one Logan Square coffeehouse. The comfortable back room, decorated with flowerpots, is the perfect place to settle in with an oversize ciambelle (Italian doughnut) and cappuccino. For those who need something more substantial, a small but satisfying menu of hearty snacks, such as piadini (light, flatbreadlike sandwiches) and Roman-style pizza, provides sustenance. Our pick: a giant arancino, a fried risotto ball with fillings like sautéed mushrooms, and a cup of one of the warming housemade soups. 2456 N California Ave (773-342-4400). El: Blue to California. Bus: 52, 74. Breakfast, lunch. Average main course: $8.
Piece Two things keep this place from going the route of sports-bar-beer-bong culture: excellent house brews and expertly executed pizzas. The crispy pies hold a lot of weight, so after you choose your pizza style—red, white or New Haven–style “plain” (red sauce, no mozzarella)—start piling on the toppings. (If you’re really going New Haven–style, try one with clams and bacon.) Wash it down with a pitcher of the crisp Golden Arm, and you’ll never disparagingly say pizza and beer joint again. 1927 W North Ave (773-772-4422). El: Blue to Damen. Bus: 50, 56, 72. Lunch, dinner. Average pizza: $14.50.
Spacca Napoli This place is serious about Neapolitan pizza: A custom-built, oak-stoked oven kicks out bubbling beauties with perfectly charred peaks and valleys in less than two minutes. The hand-formed crust is paper-thin at the center and thicker toward the edges and has the unmistakable chew of a true Neapolitan pie. Aside from the simple marinara or Margherita (which can also be had with fresh buffalo mozz), toppings run the gamut from fennel-flecked sausage to bitter rapini to prosciutto ribbons. Add a humble Italian wine-and-beer list, after-dinner options such as espresso and limoncello, and you’ve got a great night out. 1769 W Sunnyside Ave (773-878-2420). El: Brown to Damen. Bus: 50, 78, 145. Lunch (Wed–Sun), dinner (closed Mon). Average pizza: $12.