The Big 6: Every Type of Midwestern Pizza Style, Explained

Even if you could never grow tired of all the thick, molten cheese of a deep-dish pizza, you’re willing to expand your regional pizza knowledge. Here, the various Midwestern pizzas you need to try before you pick your favorite.

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Deep Dish

Deep dish is inescapable when you live in Chicago. Whether you love it or hate it, you know it. But did you know Pizzeria Uno invented it back in 1943 to differentiate itself from other pizzerias on the block? Toppings can vary, but the quintessential formula begins with a cornmeal crust, cheese, sausage and then sauce.

Where to get it in the city: Pizzeria Uno

Stuffed Deep Dish

At some point, it was decided that deep-dish pizza wasn’t deep enough. Stuffed deep dish has the same casserole-like structure, but with another, thinner layer of crust on top (underneath the sauce). Legend has it, Giordano’s invented the style.

Where to get it in the city: Giordano’s

Chicago Thin

Deep dish isn’t for everyone, not even everyone in Chicago. And thus, we have Chicago thin crust (not to be confused with New York thin crust), sometimes called tavern-style. You’ll know it by its cracker-y crust and square-cut slices, which make for a much lighter pie.

Where to get it in the city: Aurelio’s

St. Louis

A close cousin to Chicago thin crust, St. Louis pizza has an even more cracker-like crust made of unleavened dough. In its truest form, it’s also made with a noticeably sweeter sauce and Provel, a mix of Swiss, cheddar and provolone invented specifically for the style by Imo’s, its originator.

Where to get it in the city: You can ship a frozen pizza from Imo’s, or you can try the next best thing in Chicago, D’Agostino’s (they don’t use Provel, but it’s still yum).

Quad Cities

The first thing you’ll notice about Quad Cities pizza is that the pieces are cut into long strips. But what will stick with you is the crust. Made with malt syrup, it has a sourdough-like texture and nutty flavor. This is one pie where even the pickiest eaters will chow down on the crust.

Where to get it in the city: Roots


Coming full circle (sort of like a pizza, except not this kind), Detroit-style pie tends toward the deeper side but doesn’t go into deep-dish territory. A descendant of Sicilian pizza, it’s got a thick, bready crust that is topped with sauce and cheese and cooked in a blue steel pan. The cheese and crust tend to caramelize at the pan’s edges, so make sure to call first dibs on those corner pieces.

Where to get it: Jet’s

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amanda nyren

Writer, yogi, mom to about a dozen houseplants

A lifelong Chicago resident, Amanda started covering the local scene for PureWow in 2016. She's a freelance writer and content strategist.