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Nagila Pizza

What are the most popular pizza styles in Chicago?

Pizza is definitely one of the most popular dishes in the United States. Everyone loves pizza and it is everyone’s guilty pleasure. This popular dish originally came from Italy, with the first wave of Italian immigrants. Many of them settled in New York City and New Yorkers soon became acquainted with this delicious dish. Because the first pizzerias were opened in New York, that particular style of pizza was for long considered to be the only “right” way to make it. Today, there are dozens, if not hundreds of regional varieties of pizza in America alone, not to mention the other parts of the world and Italy itself. Some say that American pizza is today even better than the Italian one, to the horror of Italians who mostly see American pizza as an abomination.

As pizza started spreading across the USA, several particular styles became prominent. Today, the most famous styles are New York and Chicago style pizza. When talking about the Chicago-style pizza, many people mistakenly think of just one style, thick and rich in toppings. However, the Windy City has three distinct and well different styles of pizza – deep-dish, stuffed and thin-crust pizza.

The classic Chicago deep-dish pizza was first invented in Pizzeria Uno in 1943. As the name suggests, it is made in a deeper dish than usual, and its crust is therefore thicker, which is its main distinctive characteristic. However, you should bear in mind that although the pizza itself is thick, the crust is not supposed to be thick as bread (as it is sometimes made in imitations outside the classic Chicago pizzerias) and it’sthinner to medium. The sides of the pizza are thicker because the dough is spread over the sides of the baking dish. The pan used for cooking deep-dish pizza is round and made of steel, resembling a pie-baking pan. The pan must be oiled to allow smooth removal and something of a fried effect of the crust. The layer of toppings is thick and requires a longer baking time. In order to prevent the toppings from burning, they are arranged upside-down or in an order opposite to that in other pizza styles – cheese (usually mozzarella) goes first, followed by meat (pepperoni, sausage, etc) and other toppings (mushrooms, anchovies, onions) and tomato sauce makes up the finishing layer.

Another famous Chicago pizza style is stuffed pizza, created in the 1970s as an experiment with the deep-dish pizza. This style has two layers of dough- one on the bottom and one on the top. The bottom layer is the same as in the deep-dish pizza. The topping layer is somewhat thicker and richer and it is covered on top with another layer of dough, which is thin and often topped with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Most pizzerias make a small hole in the top layer to allow the steam to escape.

Finally, Chicago also has its thin-crust pizza style. Unlike other thin-crust varieties, Chicago thin-crust pizza has a firmer, crunchier crust. Another difference is that it is cut in squares (“tavern cuts”) instead of “pie cut” into wedges.

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