What is Deep Dish Pizza?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Deep dish pizza is a rich, thick-crusted pizza invented in 1943 by Ike Sewell, or possibly his chef Rudy Malnati, of Chicago’s Pizzeria Uno. This pizza may be referred to as Chicago style pizza, but since there are two basic Chicago styles, one with a very thin crust, deep dish pizza is more accurately called Chicago style deep-dish. The deep dish style, which has been called by some “fattening if you even look at it,” has gained in popularity through the US, with Pizzeria Uno chains and numerous imitators. However, many claim that you have to go to Chicago to get the real stuff.

Chicago-style pizza actually includes two styles, thin crust and deep dish.
Chicago-style pizza actually includes two styles, thin crust and deep dish.

There are some differences on what should make up the crust, which is usually baked in a thick high edged baking pan. Some believe the pizza dough must contain cornmeal, and others that it ought to use potato starch so it is fluffier. The crust may taste a little different than flatter style crusts and may contain butter or olive oil. Once the crust is layered into the pan, the pizza is given whatever toppings are requested, usually beginning with a layer of cheese, then meats or veggies. These initial toppings get covered by a generous amount of cheese and a pizza sauce, and additional cheese may be added on top of the sauce.

A large deep dish pizza can be impressive in weight, easily at least four to five pounds (1.81-2.27 kg), if not much heavier, and takes quite a bit longer to cook than thin crust styles. In fact, the crust may be partly precooked before toppings are added. Then you’ll usually need to bake the finished pizza for about an hour, and some restaurants take the orders of patrons before they are even seated so that wait time is slightly reduced. Individual slices are hard to pick up, and can be exceptionally hot, so this form of pizza is usually best eaten with a knife and fork.

One of the variants of deep dish pizza is the double crusted style or stuffed pizza style, which also originated in Chicago. On top of the layered toppings an additional crust is added, so that the pizza may slight resemble a pie. The top crust may be covered with pizza sauce and then baked, and it’s occasionally served inverted, in individual portion sizes. This is also “knife and fork” pizza, because it’s virtually impossible to pick this thick pizza up without making a significant mess.

If you’d like to try deep dish pizza, there’s good news. Popularity of this style has increased throughout the US, and you may be able to find a restaurant near you that serves deep dish. Alternately, some of the restaurants in Chicago that have been preparing this pizza for many years now offer shipping services. These pizzas often are not baked, so be sure to plan for a couple of hours of baking time before enjoying one of these.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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