As someone who grew up in Chicago, I was excited to read "Chef's Agree, Illinois Pizza Joint Serves Best Slice In America" until I saw they were talking about Pequod's Pizza. For Chicago-style stuffed pizza Pequod's gets all the love from locals and visitors. For Chicago thin-crust pizza Vito and Nick's always makes the list. So what about this: The best pizza in Chicago you never heard of? Is there a consensus? I set out to see what the interwebs have to say.

Pequod's and Vito & Nick's

Let's get this out of the way first. I've never tried Pequod's and a lot of the time I hear pizza experts talking about it it's always some fru fru pizza that I'd never order, so I've never tried that. That doesn't mean you can't walk in there and get a perfectly good Chicago-style stuffed / deep-dish pizza. Some will argue their pizza isn't Chicago-style stuffed, and they get a pass based on the hype, but more on this later.

Vito & Nicks I've been to and you can't go wrong if you're looking for a thin-crust pizza and a Chicago neighborhood experience. Some folks tend to call Chicago thin-crust pizza tavern-style pizza because it originated in places like Vito & Nicks.

My bottom line is if you read more about Vito & Nicks or Pequod's and want to try either of these places, go for it. The pizza will be great and you'll probably be raving about it. My tip for beer drinkers, if you're at Vito & Nicks wash it down with an Old Style for a true Chicago tavern pizza experience.

Pick Your Pie

Chicago has two main types of pizza. The deep dish / stuffed kind of pizza and a thin crust pizza. Yes, stuffed pizza was invented in Chicago, yet, some foodies don't even want to call it pizza comparing it to a casserole or a large pot pie. They're wrong, it's pizza and delicious. You will most likely only eat a slice or two of this type of pizza. You also eat it with a knife and fork until the slice is small enough to pick it up by the edge of the crust and pop the rest of it in your mouth.

Chicago thin-crust pizza is the more traditional type of pizza. Chicago thin-crust pizza is cut into little squares and compared to New York style thin-crust pizza has a little bit of a thicker crust. Depending on where you go the crust may be a little more like a cracker, too, but not always.

If you're in Chicago for a short time you may have to pick what kind of pizza you want to try.  Stuffed will fill you up fast, so I wouldn't recommend popping into one place and trying both kinds. I've also found that chains like Giordano's and Lou Malnati's that specialize in stuffed/deep dish pies don't do as good a job with thin-crust pizza.  Don't get me wrong, they don't do a bad job, it's just not as good as some local places do.

"Tourist Trap" Pizza Joints: They Don't Exist 

I cribbed the headline from a Reddit user whose name has been deleted. That user, talking about Lou Malnati's pizza specifically had this to say. "Chicago is a weird city where most "tourist traps" are actually solid places. I've lived here my whole life and have tried every popular pizza place and still swear by Lou Malnati's for deep dish."

Somewhere along the way, success and busy multiple locations become equated with the pizza not being as good as it should be. That's baloney if you ask me. Truth is Lou Malnati's and Giordano's take a lot of heat for being touristy, not great examples of Chicago-style stuffed pizza. They're both very good and the locations are easy to find.

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Chicagoans Love Arguing About Pizza

One thing I've learned since moving away from Chicago is; that Chicagoans love to argue about pizza. We love arguing about whether stuffed pizza is "real" Chicago pizza, or whether the thin-crust pie you pick up from a neighborhood place is "real" Chicago pizza. We like to argue about who has the best-stuffed pizza. We like arguing about whether stuffed pizza or thin-crust pizza is the kind our parents picked up on Friday nights. We'll argue whether north-side or south-side pizza is better.

One thing I can tell visitors to Chicago. If someone recommends a pizza place to you, there's a very good chance you'll love the pizza too. So take the recommendation under advisement.

A few Chicago Pizza Places You Probably Never Heard Of

I've covered a lot of pizza places you've probably heard of that are in Chicago. Here are a few places that I recommend you try if you find yourself in Chicago.

  • LaVilla Restaurant & Lounge, 3638 N. Pulaski, Chicago. Located in a neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago, LaVilla is part old-school neighborhood Italian Restaurant, part take-out pizza joint, and 100% delicious. It was one of the places my late wife Kathy and I enjoyed on date nights, and I've been there quite a few times with friends. The deep-dish pizza is delicious, as is the Italian food. You'll definitely get a Chicago neighborhood vibe at this place.
  • MyPi, 2010 N. Damon Avenue, Chicago. Located in Bucktown, I had MyPi years ago when they were tucked away under the L near Loyola University, then again when they were in Lincoln Park. I think their stuffed/deep-dish pizza was the second deep-dish pie I ever experienced. It's been a while since I had MyPi, but I've heard it's as good as ever. These days the family business calls Bucktown home.
  • Pizano's, 864 N. State Street and 61 E. Madison Street, Chicago. When Pizano's opened up near Chicago & State Street they delivered a pie to our college radio station down the block. It was delicious. And the last time I had it it was very good too. One of my Indiana radio buddies, Jimmy Knight, found it when he and his wife vacationed in Chicago and it became his favorite Chicago pizza joint.
  • Barraco's Pizza, 3701 W 95th Street Evergreen Park, plus many locations on the south side or south suburbs. Full disclosure I was a busboy at Barraco's Pizza one summer growing up. Barraco's, like LaVilla, is one of those neighborhood Italian Restaurants, and take-out pizza joints. If you want a great example of Chicago neighborhood thin-crust pizza I don't think you can't go wrong with Barraco's. The rest of the menu is great too.
  • Palermo's 95th, 4849 W 95th Street, Oak Lawn. This is the pizza my friends and I ate growing up. It's another great example of a neighborhood Italian joint where you can dine in, hold a banquet, or grab a pizza to take home. The pizza is always delicious. How are the other menu items? I don't know. The food always looks good, but my buddies and I always go for the pizza to be honest.
  • Chicago's Home Run Inn, 4254 W. 31st Street, Chicago, plus multiple south side and south suburban locations. Want a great thin-crust pie while visiting Chicago, Home Run Inn has you covered. Yes, these are the same people who have their frozen pizza in places like Hy-Vee and Walmart.  They make an excellent frozen pizza, yet, the pizza in their restaurant is even better. This is another great place to go if you're craving a Chicago thin-crust pizza experience.
  • Aurelio's Pizza, 1212 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, also the Chicagoland area, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nevada. Aurelio's could almost qualify as one of those "tourist trap" places based on their number of locations. However, people in Chicago don't talk much about them. I went to my buddy Rob Bender's pizza party at Aurelio's once. Then, after meeting my wife, she reintroduced me to Aurelio's which was her family's go-to pizza joint. We had our first date at Aurelio's! The pizza was delicious and the rest is history.

Ok, What's The Best Chicago Pizza Joint You've Never Heard Of?

So the best Chicago pizza joint you never heard of is... the one you find yourself at with friends, family, or your significant other in Chicago making memories and laughing over a pitcher and a pie. You have to find it, and then make the experience your own. Chicago's a great pizza town, I guarantee you'll find a place.

That's not a cop-out either. I really couldn't find a consensus anywhere like Reddit or Facebook that definitively named one place most people never heard of as the super secret best pizza joint to go to. As I mentioned Chicagoans love arguing about pizza, so there is no consensus.

Still Need A Little Help? Here's One More Thing That Might Help You Find That Special Pizza Joint

Chicago is such a pizza city, that yes, you can devote two and a half to three and a half hours to participate in a pizza crawl. The tours, created by James Beard award-winning food reporter Steve Dolinsky take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between Memorial Day and Halloween. Even for a native Chicagoan this sounds as much fun and Chicago as an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River, which you should do too. For more information on the pizza tour click here.

LOOK: Highest-rated things to do in Chicago, according to Tripadvisor

Stacker compiled a list of the highest rated things to do in Chicago from Tripadvisor.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

LOOK: Highest-rated cheap eats in Chicago, according to Tripadvisor

Stacker compiled a list of the highest rated cheap eats restaurants in Chicago from Tripadvisor.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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