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Our Favorite Chicago Pizza: DNAinfo Reporters Share Their Picks

By DNAinfo Staff | January 13, 2015 8:11am | Updated on January 14, 2015 8:03am

 Coalfire Pizza.
Coalfire Pizza.
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CHICAGO — At DNAinfo Chicago, we take pizza seriously. Each month, we head to a different neighborhood for "pizza night" where we eat (and sometimes drink) entirely too much. We also love to argue about which neighborhoods have the best pies.

In honor of pizza week and the launch of The Slice, our official pizza page, we decided to share our favorite pizza spots around the city.

Aurelio’s Pizza, multiple locations: For Mark Konkol, there’s not a pie in the city that can beat Aurelio’s, set to open soon in the South Loop. It’s made just so — trademarked sweet sauce covered with salty mozzarella, tangy homemade sausage and peppers piled on a lightly charred crust  — and every bite is delightful.

Coalfire, 1321 W. Grand Ave.: Reporter Casey Cora swears by this West Town pizzeria, with its 800-degree coal-burning oven, perfect for kicking out pies with a Neapolitan-style charred and puffy crust. Order the Fiorentino ($18), topped with red sauce, fresh mozzarella, spicy sopressata and charred sweet red peppers. It’s so good you won’t feel ashamed after inevitably eating the whole thing.

Aurelio's keeps it thin and crispy.

Pequod’s Pizza, 2207 N. Clybourn Ave.: Wicker Park reporter Alisa Hauser’s brother lives in Seattle but continues to make an annual pilgrimage to Pequod’s for a half pepperoni, half jalapeño deep dish pan pizza whenever he visits his hometown. Baked with a thin layer of cheese on the outside, the caramelized crust might look burnt but it is actually chewy, buttery and firm enough so the slices' sweet sauce and thick cheesy gobs stay intact.

Logan Square reporter Darryl Holliday agrees. "The burnt crust bro," Holliday says. "It's all about that cheesy half-burned crust when they take it out of the pan with those weird clamp tools."

Salerno’s, 1201 West Grand Ave.: The original Salerno’s that opened in 1966 on 16th Street in Berwyn was dark with flocked wallpaper, but the pizza was always delicious when Senior Editor Dave Newbart went while growing up in the western suburbs in the ‘70s and ‘80s. So after discovering the Salerno family’s outpost on Racine and Grand, he and his wife searched for homes that were in Salerno’s delivery area (seriously). This is straight-up, no fancy ingredients, Chicago-style pan (and thin crust) pizza. Don’t go here if you are a fan of California Pizza Kitchen, and don't ask how they make their cheese taste so good, just enjoy it.

Giordano’s, multiple locations: Reporter Josh McGhee loves his pizza "the bro way stuffed with meat and cheese." But before the Southwest 'burbs transplant was in walking distance to deep-dish pies he grabbed his thin crust pizza from Beggar's. He's a "sausage and cheese kinda guy."

Radio Director Jon Hansen and Senior Editor Justin Breen share McGhee's love for Giordano’s.

Pequod's keeps its crust dark and cheesy.

Pete's Pizza, 3737 N. Western Ave. and Ciao Bella, 3737 W. Lawrence Ave.: When reporter Patty Wetli's fridge is bare, she turns to her husband and says, "Let's get Pete's." The twosome's standard order is half spinach (for Patty) and half spinach with meat (for Mr. Patty), family-sized thin crust, which does double-duty as lunch for the rest of the week. And sometimes the pizza is just a means to an end, that end being a hefty slice of Pete's divinely rich chocolate cake. Lately Patty's been cheating on Pete's with Ciao Bella, which recently opened in Albany Park. Do not judge this book by its strip-mall cover. Ciao Bella is turning out some spectacular wood-fired pies, including an arugula/gorgonzola pairing that's the pizza combo you never knew you always wanted. The football-sized Nutella calzone speaks for itself.

Paterno’s, 5303 N. Milwaukee Ave.: Northwest Side reporter Heather Cherone swears by the "butter special" from Paterno's. Instead of red sauce, the pizza has a butter base and lots of mozzarella and garlic. And don't be fooled: the “thin” crust at Paterno's would pass for thick at most places. 

Pizano's Pizza, 61 E. Madison: Senior Editor Andrew Herrmann doesn't have to walk far from the DNAinfo offices to snag his favorite pizza. "Seems like a tourist spot, being a block from Millennium Park," he says. "But a friend of mine who works for the Washington Capitals turned me on to it: The players always want to eat there when they come to town. For good reason."

Phil’s Pizza, 1102 W. 35th St.: Of all the many pizza options in and around Bridgeport you can’t beat Phil’s sausage pizza, loaded with huge chunks of homemade sausage and melted cheese on a thin crust, says Senior Editor John O'Brien. Or try the special, which adds onions, green peppers and mushrooms to the sausage.

Gino’s North, 1111 W. Granville Ave.: Rogers Park and Edgewater reporter Benjamin Woodard says a pizza joint’s pie is just as important as its neighborhood charm, and Gino’s North (no affiliation with Gino’s East) delivers on both fronts. The small pizzeria and bar boasts just a few booths and bar stools for an intimate feel. All pies are handmade by 85-year-old Peggy Gelsomino, who's been slinging pies — deep dish and thin crust — at Gino's North on Granville Avenue for decades. Try the Gino’s Special with all the ingredients that matter: Italian sausage, mushroom, green pepper and onion. Insider tip: The vodka martinis are sure to kick your a—. And they're delicious.

A DNAinfo staff pizza night at Coalfire. The waitress said, "I've never seen so many people order their own pizza."

Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder, 2121 N. Clark St.: Senior Editor Lizzie Schiffman Tufano swears by the subterranean Lincoln Park joint's pizza pot pies, which are baked upside-down and expertly carved out of small ceramic bowls by staff armed with oven mitts and a spoon. Their menu is small, but everything on it is a knockout — especially the paper-thin seasoned flatbreads that spill over their serving plates.

Lou Malnati's, multiple locations: According to Lincoln Park reporter Paul Biasco, the deep dish butter crust with sausage at Lou's is tops in the city. "If you haven't tried a leftover slice cold the next morning, you are seriously missing out," Biasco says. "Also, Lou's thin crust is amazing, but is overshadowed by the deep dish." Reporter Mina Bloom agrees.

Fox’s Beverly, 9956 S. Western Ave.: Reporter Howard Ludwig introduced some DNA staffers to the pepperoni/giardiniera combo at Fox's, which was life changing. The spicy toppings and sweet sauce make your mouth burn in the best way.

Dimo’s Pizza, 3463 N. Clark St. and 1615 N. Damen Ave.: "This place does weird pizza toppings really well," DNAinfo data reporter Tanveer Ali says. "I love their 'Chicken n’ Waffles' and they probably make the best macaroni-and-cheese slice in town. There’s room for improvement though: I’ve told them there wasn’t enough Malort in their Malort pizza.

Pizzeria Da Nella, 1443 W. Fullerton Ave.: City Hall reporter Ted Cox says anything with the spicy pepperoni at Pizzeria Da Nella is awesome.

Kyla Gardner can't stop smiling after trying Fox's Pizza in Beverly for the first time.

Piece Pizza, 1927 W. North Ave.: Senior Editor Jen Sabella is marrying a vegetarian, so she sometimes skips the pepperoni to share pizza with her fiancé. Fortunately, Piece’s banana peppers offer the spicy crunch of pepperoni without the meat (and minus a few cals). Pair the red pizza and banana peppers with a pint of house-brewed Golden Arm and you’ll be in heaven.

Barraco's, 3047 W. 111th St.: Though Piece is awesome, Jen's all-time favorite is Barraco's. The party-cut pizza with sweet sauce and a cracker-thin crust brings her back to her childhood stomping grounds at least once a month.

Medici on 57th, 1327 East 57th St.: Hyde Park reporter Sam Cholke digs Hans' Smoked German Ham pizza from Medici. It's topped with Westphalian ham, granny smith apples, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and marinara sauce.

Gino's East, multiple locations: Englewood reporter Andrea Watson keeps it simple at Gino's East: deep dish with crumbled sausage.

Vito and Nicks, 8433 S. Pulaski Rd.: "As a South Sider by marriage, my heart belongs to Vito and Nick's (Nick and Vito's, if you're from the neighborhood)," food writer Janet Rausa Fuller says. "How can you not dig a place with carpeted walls, gravel-voiced waitresses and a crew of pizza makers all Norman Rockwell-like in white T-shirts and paper hats? And the pizza: Thin but never soggy, sauced just right, cheesy and chewy and caramelized where it needs to be, cut into small squares to facilitate face-stuffing. Get the sausage; prepare to fall in love."

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