The Ultimate Guide to Deep Dish Pizza Styles
As a pizza enthusiast, nothing gets my taste buds tingling more than a generous slice of deep dish pizza. Each bite bursts with gooey cheese, tangy tomato sauce, and an array of delightful toppings, all nestled within a thick and satisfying crust. But did you know that not all deep dish pizzas are created equal? In fact, there are several different styles of this mouthwatering treat, each with its own unique characteristics and regional flair. So, my fellow pizza lovers, join me on a delicious journey as we explore the delectable world of deep dish pizza styles. Grab a fork (yes, you might need one for these pies) and let’s dive in!
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza #
Let’s start with the most famous of them all – Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Originating in the Windy City during the 1940s, this iconic pizza style was first created at Pizzeria Uno. It features a thick, buttery crust that is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The crust is typically about 1-2 inches high, providing ample space for a generous layer of cheese, toppings, and a rich tomato sauce.
What sets Chicago-style pizza apart from others is the way it’s assembled. Instead of placing the cheese on top of the sauce, like most pizzas, the cheese is layered directly on the crust. Toppings are then added, followed by a chunky tomato sauce made from crushed tomatoes, garlic, and oregano. This method ensures that the crust remains crisp and doesn’t become soggy from the sauce.
If you’re looking to try an authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza, some of the most well-known pizzerias in Chicago include Pizzeria Uno (of course), Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, and Gino’s East.
Detroit-Style Deep Dish Pizza #
Next up is Detroit-style deep dish pizza, a variation that originated in the Motor City during the 1940s. This square-shaped pizza was first created at Buddy’s Rendezvous (now known as Buddy’s Pizza) and is characterized by its thick, chewy, yet light and airy crust. Unlike the Chicago-style pizza, Detroit-style crust is not buttery, and its signature crunch is achieved by baking the pizza in a well-seasoned steel pan, similar to an automotive parts tray – a nod to the city’s industrial roots.
In addition to its unique crust, Detroit-style deep dish also has a distinct way of layering its ingredients. Like the Chicago-style, the cheese (usually Wisconsin brick cheese) is placed directly on the crust, followed by the toppings. However, what sets it apart is the final layer – instead of a chunky tomato sauce, a smooth, herb-infused tomato sauce is drizzled over the top in thick, flavorful stripes. This method, known as “racing stripes,” allows you to taste the individual components in every bite.
While Buddy’s Pizza remains the most famous spot to try Detroit-style deep dish, other popular pizzerias in the area include Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant, Loui’s Pizza, and Detroit Style Pizza Co.
Sicilian-Style Deep Dish Pizza #
Sicilian deep dish pizza, also known as sfincione, is a traditional Italian pizza style hailing from Sicily. It’s characterized by a thick, spongy crust made from a dough similar to focaccia, topped with a simple tomato sauce, caramelized onions, anchovies, and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Cheese is typically reserved for special occasions, but when used, it’s usually a soft, fresh cheese like caciocavallo or mozzarella.
Sfincione is not as well-known in the United States as Chicago or Detroit-style pizzas, but you can still find it at some specialty pizzerias or bakeries serving Italian fare.
Pan-Style Deep Dish Pizza #
Pan-style deep dish pizza is a bit of a hybrid, incorporating elements from both Chicago and Detroit-style pizzas. Like Detroit-style, it is baked in a seasoned steel pan, resulting in a crispy, chewy crust. However, it does not have the same light, airy texture as its Motor City cousin. Instead, the crust is denser and more akin to a traditional hand-tossed pizza.
The assembly of a pan-style deep dish pizza is similar to a Chicago-style pie, with cheese placed directly on the crust, followed by the toppings and a chunky tomato sauce. However, pan-style pizzas typically have a thinner layer of sauce, allowing the toppings and cheese to take center stage.
You’ll find pan-style deep dish pizzas at many popular pizza chains, such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s, but don’t be afraid to explore local pizzerias for some hidden gems.
Wood-Fired Deep Dish Pizza #
Last but certainly not least is the wood-fired deep dish pizza, a delicious fusion of deep dish decadence and the smoky, charred flavors of a traditional Neapolitan pie. While not as widespread as other deep dish styles, this version starts with a dough similar to that used in Neapolitan pizza, which is then pressed into a deep, well-oiled cast-iron skillet. The crust is par-baked in a wood-fired oven, giving it a slightly crisp exterior and a tender, chewy interior.
Once the crust is partially baked, it’s time to layer on the cheese, toppings, and sauce – similar to a Chicago-style pie. Then, the pizza is returned to the wood-fired oven to finish baking, resulting in a beautiful melding of flavors and textures unlike any other deep dish pizza style.
If you’re lucky enough to find a pizzeria that offers wood-fired deep dish pizza, don’t hesitate to give it a try. The smoky, slightly charred crust adds a whole new dimension of flavor that is simply irresistible.