In this series, we’re exploring various types of pizza –from crackery thin Milwaukee style pies to Chicago-style deep dish – and sussing out the secret sauce behind each one. View the full list of features in the Knead to Know series here.
"Deep dish" pizza can come in various forms, from pan-style pies to stuffed pizzas. But when it comes to Chicago-style deep dish, there are a number of distinctions which set it apart from the rest.
Here are three ways to identify a classic Chicago-style deep dish pizza:
- The crust: Chicago-style deep dish features a thin-to-medium biscuit-like crust, which nearly always gets a boost from butter or corn oil. Note: Stuffed pizza is a category all its own. If there is a second, often very thin layer of crust in between the toppings and the sauce, it's not classic Chicago-style deep dish.
- The toppings: they are applied in reverse order from most pizzas. The cheese is layered right on top of crust, with meat and vegetable toppings to follow; this prevents the cheese from scorching during the longer cooking time.
- The sauce: You will definitely find the sauce on the top of your pizza.
To learn more, we headed to Lou Malnati’s in Brookfield where Amit Klass tells us more about what goes into their Chicago-style deep dish pizza (including plenty of Wisconsin cheese). [Video: Courtney Bondar]
15795 W Bluemound Rd., (414) 930-4500 (dine-in)
8799 N. Port Washington Rd., (414) 446-3500 (carry-out & delivery)
4751 S. 76th St., (414) 310-4600 (carry-out & delivery)
2720 N. Grandview Blvd., Waukesha, (262) 672-6355 (carry-out & delivery)
8171 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, (414) 260-0800 (carry-out & delivery)
More Chicago-style deep dish
Another pizza with a place in the Chicago canon is stuffed pizza. It’s served at notable spots including Giardano’s and Nancy’s. But it shouldn’t be mistaken for Chicago-style deep dish. Instead, it’s a heftier, amped up version, often made with a denser, breadier dough, that’s layered with toppings and often more cheese than deep-dish, with an added layer of crust across the top. If one mistakes it for classic deep dish, it’s because the sauce is almost always spread on that extra top layer of dough.
Here are some local spots that serve stuffed pizza:
Standard deep dish / pan pizza
Much of the deep dish pizza you’ll find in Milwaukee falls into the pan pizza category. Often called “deep dish”, these pizzas feature a soft, thick dough that's cooked in a deep pan. Despite key differences, they are often mistaken for Chicago-style deep dish. However, if you take a closer look, you’ll note that the crust on a pan-style pizza is thicker and more bread-like. The application of the toppings also follows the more traditional order (sauce on the bottom, toppings, then cheese on top).
Here are a few more local spots that serve pan style pizza:
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.