The world may think of Chicago as a deep-dish pizza town, but those of us who love the oven-baked cheesy pies, we know that thin is in — and Chicago has plenty of delicious places to choose from.
So, while tourists might line up at Uno’s or Gino’s East, the rest of us flock to these local spots serving up tasty ‘za with thin crispy crusts.
Armand’s is one of the Chicago area’s favorite thin crust pizzerias.
Clearly they’re doing something right — they’ve been baking up pies since 1956 and have eight locations: three in the city and one each in Elmhurst, Lombard, Elmwood Park, Arlington Heights, and LaGrange.
They hand toss and roll out the crust before adding toppings for specialty pies like the Quattro Formaggi; Prosciutto & Arugula; or the Signature layered with artichoke hearts, fontinella, roasted red peppers and basil.
Got a group? Order three-foot-long “Yardstick” for $29.95.
How’s that for a great deal?
With locations in West Town (the original) and Lakeview on the north end of the Southport corridor, Coalfire has one of the best thin crust pies in the city and yes, its 1,500-degree oven is really fired by coal.
The pizzas, whether you get a classic Margherita with fresh basil; the Honey & Salami with Berkshire sopressata, honey and Calabrian chili; Burnt Onion & Sausage or build your own, are delivered to the table all bubbly and hot — and that’s how you want it.
Bonus: All the hormone-free, humanely raised, non-GMO ingredients get sourced from local producers and farmers.
If New York-style pizza — large, triangular slices with a super thin crust you can fold to eat with one hand — is your jam, quickly head to Logan Square or Avondale where Dante’s has its two locations.
Don’t expect charm or to get anything fancy at this BYOB spot decked out in themes of hell and damnation (hence the name), but do know you’ll get truly authentic East Coast slices.
One of the newer pizza restaurants to hit the Chicago scene, Bebu came out of the gate with a thunderous roar.
Tucked down a side street south of North Avenue in Lincoln Park, Bebu may be small, but its flavors are mighty. The puffed-up outer crust leads to an impossibly thin center that gets topped with inventive combinations like its simply delicious Pepperoni or the Little Neck Clam, which I was skeptical about at first, but quickly devoured.
If you can’t decide between two toppings, Bebu has no issue doing two completely different halves.
And if you like wine (who doesn’t?), you’ll love the list here — including its reserve selection because why shouldn’t you enjoy a $200 bottle of Cabernet with your gourmet pie?
PR Italian Bistro
The formerly named Pizza Rustica morphed into PR Italian Bistro some time in the last year or so when the owners wanted to emphasize their full menu that includes grilled meats and fish, pasta and more — and ensure people knew they weren’t just about pizza.
But at its heart, PRIB is still about its delicious pizza.
Its rich, buttery crust has the perfect amount of crunch and while you can no longer customize your pizza, they have six red and three white pizzas to choose from.
Tip: The Bistro with Italian sausage, onions glazed in a tart Balsamic, cherries, goat cheese and fennel is a favorite.
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria
Touted as one of, if not the, first Chicago pizzerias offering authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, Spacca Napoli certainly offers some of the best in that category.
Set in the heart of Ravenswood, this restaurant — whose owner, Jonathan Goldsmith is a certified pizzaiuolo, bakes up pizza with a crust that is at the same time crisp and fluffy.
The center is wet, as a true Neapolitan should be, and its farm-fresh ingredients — San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufula, basil, arugula, prosciutto cotto — taste as beautiful as they look.
This is one of Evanston’s most popular restaurants and with great reason.
The buzzy loft-like ambiance at Union Pizzeria is just the teaser for the fantastic food, including the stellar artisan Neapolitan pizza topped with a variety of gourmet ingredients mostly sourced locally.
All the pizzas are fantastic, but favorites definitely include the Pinn-Oak farm lamb sausage pizza with eggplant, olives and rosemary and the Wild Mushroom with béchamel, fontina, teleggio and sage.
And if their already-delicious selection wasn’t enough, Union always has a rotating weekly special.