Working late into the evening, the doughmasters at Donny's Pizzeria flip fresh ingredients into Chicago–style deep-dish, stuffed, pan, traditional thin-crust, and double-decker pizzas. The kitchen's passion for overstuffing also shows up in baked pasta shells, ravioli, and tortellini packed with imported cheeses. The most decadent corners of the menu harbor treats including deep-fried Oreos and the much-lauded Epic pizza, a 20"x50" pie that can serve 25–35 people or serve as a small cot.
Specializing in thick, Sicilian–style deep-dish pizza, Jet's has indulged palates since 1978, when the eponymous Jetts brothers opened the first joint in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Crusts buckle under the weight of mozzarella cheese and toppings such as grilled chicken and black olives, accompanied by sides such as hot wings, cinnamon sticks, or Jet's Bread topped with cheese, garlic, and butter. Stacks of meat and veggies pile onto piping-hot subs, and a variety of healthy salads helps to avoid the wrath of the Food Pyramid's ancient golems armed with giant wooden tongs.
In 1966, taxi drivers Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli finally became fed up with their stop-and-go lives full of honking horns and rush-hour traffic. So they shut off their engines, handed in their keys, and took root. Along with pal George Loverde, they invested in property just off the bustling Magnificent Mile, but then didn’t know what to do with it. According to a 2004 profile in the Chicago Tribune, they got their direction when someone finally said, “Put pizza in it.”
Though the rest is history, it wasn’t quite easy. Bartoli and Loverde came from Italian and Sicilian backgrounds, but neither knew the key to a good pizza. It wasn’t until they hired Alice Mae Redmond, the woman responsible for the dough at Pizzeria Uno, that the Gino's East Chicagoans know and love was truly born. Although Alice Mae retired back in 1989, the recipe for her flaky, golden deep-dish pizza crust lives on.
Today, Gino’s still stands at its original spot on Michigan and Superior but has also stretched to 10 other city and suburban locations. Whether dining downtown or in St. Charles, customers find Alice Mae’s signature crust piled with mounds of cheese, sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes, and plenty of fresh toppings—from sausage and pepperoni to jalapeños and ground beef. Hot from the oven, pizzas arrive at tables snuggled inside seasoned deep-dish pans, ready to welcome a fork and knife. Thin-crust varieties are also available for those who don’t know how to work silverware, as is a bounty of sandwiches.
Mr. Beef & Pizza karate-chops cravings with crunchy thin-crust pies topped with melty cheese and woos taste buds with 15 hearty sides. Adorn savory creations with classic spangles such as pepperoni, garlic, and sausage, or choose to layer a cheesy canvas with unexpected décor such as bacon, roast beef, or a portrait of Grover Cleveland created from spinach. Substantial sides such as crispy onion rings, juicy tamales, thick gravy bread, and seasoned popcorn shrimp accompany the meal's star entree, as does an effervescent roster of nine soft drinks.
In true Chicago form, Slice of Chicago serves a hot italian beef pizza that’s layered with spoonfuls of giardiniera. It’s one of their specialty pies, which just might be the crown jewels of Slice’s menu—other varieties include the Western with barbecue sauce, sausage, bacon, and onion, and a taco pizza with ground beef, jalapeños, and sour cream. The pizzeria goes beyond its culinary namesake to strike a tasty balance between American and Italian favorites with dishes as varied as pork ribs, eggplant parmesan, cajun chicken sandwiches, and tiramisu. Guests can also build custom pasta plates by getting a permit from their local pasta-building commissioner, and then selecting a noodle, sauce, and optional ingredients such as calamari or sun-dried tomatoes.
Pasquale’s Pizzeria and Delicatessen owner Patrick Maggi knows a thing or two about baking tasty pizza pies, and he has the honors to prove it. In 2013, he journeyed to Parma, Italy to compete in the World Pizza Championship, and came home with a seventh-place finish out of 33 competing teams. In 2010, his oven creations won him first place in the gluten-free pizza category at the American Pizza Championships. His award-winning dedication to Italian pizza is reflected in Pasquale’s menu, which contains create-your-own and specialty pizzas that combine hand-tossed dough with ingredients ranging from pepperoni to artichokes. Diners can also satisfy their hunger with Boar’s Head cold sandwiches, hot Italian meatball parmigiana subs, and cannolis that, like outstanding resumes, come dusted with sugar and chocolate chips.