The untold truth of Chicago deep-dish pizza

In the same way that Boston is known for its lobster rolls and New Orleans is known for its beignets, the Windy City is known for its pizza. Chicago deep-dish pizza is a beloved culinary tradition unlike few others in the country. 

The actual year that deep-dish pizza came onto the scene in Chicago is unclear. According to some, deep-dish pizza goes back to the 1940s, while others believe that the trademark food is even older and can be traced to the 1920s (via The Chicago Tribune). The genesis of pizza in the Windy City can be traced to the wave of immigration from Italy to Illinois in the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly from the city of Naples (via The Culture Trip). These Italian immigrants brought the tradition of pizza with them from the old country, and the city began to fill with more pizza joints than you could shake a stick at.

What defines a deep-dish pizza?

The thing that sets deep-dish pizza apart is the fact that, as its name suggests, it is cooked in a tall pan which allows for multiple layers. Traditional Chicago deep-dish pizza is flipped, with the cheese going on the bottom layer, then the toppings which often include sausage and vegetables, and then tomato sauce on the top. 

Because the deep-dish pizzas were thicker than their traditional counterparts and therefore had to cook longer, this inversion was done to avoid burning the cheese on top. Because Chicago deep-dish pizza is bigger, thicker and gooier than most pizza varieties, there's no use in even trying to use your hands and everyone will forgive you for using a knife and fork on your slice. While there are a number of recipes online for those aspiring to make their own (via The Food Network), this specialty is one of those things that's just better to have in Chicago, the city that made it famous in the first place.