Food Fight: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza

From the 08/04/2010 edition

It's inevitable: If you live in Chicago, you regularly crave deep-dish pizza. You try out all the famous places until you find the sauce-on-top, overwhelmed-by-cheese pie that best suits your taste. You eat that pizza often, and it's heaven.

So then what happens when you leave the Windy City? The cravings don't go away. As an Illinois emigrant, I had to test local places' claims that they serve an authentic pie, keeping in mind that depth is key.

Depth :

Tristano's: 1.25 inches

Fabian's: 1.6 inches

Wholly Joe's: 1.1 inches


Tristano's: Gooey and fresh. There's a lot of it, which creates the perfect cheese-to-crust ratio.

Fabian's: Average. It's the typical cheese you might find at a chain, but there's plenty of it.

Wholly Joe's: Outstandingly fresh. The pie could benefit from more of it, though.


Tristano's: Thin and crunchy across the bottom. The dough along the outer rim is braided, making a pretty edge that tastes like French bread.

Fabian's: Nice and thin across the bottom except near the edges. The flavor is reminiscent of Pizza Hut.

Wholly Joe's: Substantial. It tastes like fresh bread, but there's too much of it compared to the cheese.


Tristano's: Simple and fresh. It has occasional, small chunks of tomato.

Fabian's: Very thin layer across pie. It isn't presented in true Chicago style: on top of the cheese.

Wholly Joe's: Ideal amount of homemade-tasting sauce. Unfortunately it's a bit too salty, and it's underneath the cheese.

Toppings :

Tristano's: 17 available, including roast beef and pineapple

Fabian's: 14 available, including artichokes and capicola

Wholly Joe's: 18 available, plus the option of alfredo and BBQ sauces


Tristano's: The pie has simple and clean flavors, but it's not in line with traditional Chicago pies.

Fabian's: Fabian's is generous with its fresh toppings. Other than that, the pizza is unremarkable and doesn't bring to mind "Chicago."

Wholly Joe's: It's an enjoyable pizza experience, but this restaurant's Chicago-style hot dogs are probably more authentic.

The winner !

None of the local offerings taste just like the pizza at glorious Giordano's or the other top-notch Chicago pizzerias, but I'll be heading to Tristano's when the craving hits and I can't do a six-hour road trip.