Photo by Hemant Latawa on Unsplash
When pizza is brought up around Chicago, everyone instantly thinks of deep dish pizza. Of course, the immensely cheesy and saucy deep dish pizza is one of the staples of iconic Chicago food but there is actually another pizza that is just as loved in Chicago.
This forgotten pizza is the tavern style pizza. The tavern style pizza is just about as far as you can get from deep dish with its paper thin crust and distinctive pieces cut into square shapes. In many cases, Chicago natives actually prefer the tavern style variety over the more well known deep dish pizzas.
Deep dish is great for many occassions but sometimes it is just too heavy of a meal and for those that want to avoid a food coma, the tavern style pizza is a wonderful alternative. This almost forgotten pizza also has its origins found deep within the history of Chicago and was the predecessor to deep dish. A little known fact to most Chicagoans is that while the first deep dish ever created was around the early 1940's, the tavern style pizza has been a part of Chicago for decades longer as the original pizzas introduced to the city.
When pizza was first being innoculated into the Windy City and far before deep dish had been created, Chicago was home to a large number of taverns. They started serving pizza in these taverns as many people started loving the dish as an addictive food to snack on while downing beers. This worked out great for the taverns since pizza was a pretty simple food to serve and only required inexpensive ingredients and little difficulty in preparation.
In order for taverns to raise the bottom line, they came up with the genius idea to simply make the crust thinner which allowed them to pop out more pies with the same amount of dough. In addition to making the crust thinner, the taverns also started to cut the slices into squares and not the traditional triangular slice many people are used to today. The new square cut was welcomed by the customers since it made it easier for them to portion out the pie into snack sized pieces as at most taverns, the pizza was not meant to be a meal but rather a food to be snacked on while drinking. Not only did the smaller slices make a more appetizing snack but also allowed the taverns to optimize the amount of food they were serving out to customers.
The pizza itself is also very different from many other variations. The crust is baked into an almost cracker like crisp which makes folding the pizza impossible without snapping it in half. This phenomenon happens due to the process for how the dough is prepared and baked as it is not tossed like New York style pizzas but rather rolled out and cooked at much longer intervals.
Tavern style pizza has a rich history within the city of Chicago and as such can be found in many great establishments around the city. A list of the best and highest quality tavern style pizzas is below:
This chain is local to the northern suburbs of Chicago and is the favorite amonst the suburban crowd. Barnaby's can be found at 960 Skokie Blvd in Northbrook.
This establishment serves many varieties of the tavern style pizza but their most popular option is their signature Elmwood Park combo which contains all the ingredients native to Chicago such as giardiniera peppars, Italian beef, and sausage. Armand's Pizzeria can be found at 4159 N Western Ave.