Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

chicago deep dish pizza - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

DEEP DISH PIZZA!!

One of the most common known facts and associations people have with Chicago (aside from the wind and Oprah) is that it is known for its deep dish pizza. I had never tried a deep dish pizza myself so when researching things to see and do in Chicago I learned that there were several companies offering food tours that feature only pizza! I love food tours and I love pizza. I thought it might of been a dream, but it was true. Here is my review of Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish hours of heaven.

cailin wearing a pizza hat - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

I debated buying this hat and wearing it on the tour…

The pizza tour on this day started at 11am at a pizza shop called Pizano’s in downtown Chicago in an area known as the loop. (note: starting locations may vary). After arriving I soon learned that we would be visiting only 4 of Chicago’s 2,200 pizza shops on our tour. Sad. However I also learned that they have a large selection of pizza places that they do their tour with so basically I could take the tour a couple of times and I might always try a new place which I thought was cool. Spices things up a bit and gives me a good excuse to take this tour more than once…

Before the tour that morning I had eaten a light breakfast which was smart and in hindsight I probably just should of eaten nothing. Over the next 3ish hours we were to sample eight different pizzas at four different pizza shops (with having seconds almost always being an option) and we were about to learn A WHOLE LOT of information about pizza and Chicago. At the beginning I was afraid of getting too full and not being able to try everything but the tour was well spaced out with time to digest that I successfully completed the mission and then some.

Jonathan Chicago Pizza Tours Tour Guide - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

Our tour guide Jonathan… I may have asked him to ham it up for the camera…

Pizza Facts our EXTREMELY knowledgeable pizza guide Jonathan told us:

  • Pizza is a $32 billion industry in the US
  • There are roughly 70,000 unique pizza places in the US (all of chains like pizza hut equals just 1 in that count). There are 9,000 pizza places in NYC and 2,200 in Chicago.
  • The average American eats about 23lbs of pizza a year.
  • On tour we would each be eating about 3 to 5lbs of pizza…. or was that the weight of pizza we would be served in total? hmmm…
  • Deep dish pizza was invented in Chicago in the 1940s however there is a dispute over who actually invented it, it was believed to of been first made at a pizza place called Pizzeria Uno.
  • Before the deep dish came to be pizza was generally just eaten as a snack however at Pizzeria Uno they wanted to change that and make it more of a meal/staple food so they came up with a more heartier version of pizza and thats how we got deep dish. Basically pizza on steroids.
  • Deep dish pizza is known to outsiders as Chicago’s “thing” however in actual fact for every one deep dish pizza eaten in Chicago another 3 flat Chicago Tavern style, more typical pizzas are actually eaten. Deep dish has actually almost now become a touristy thing.

Now lets get to the pizza. Like I said we started our tour at Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta in Chicago’s Loop about a block from Millennium park. Opened in 1991 by Rudy Malnati Jr. son of Rudy Malnati Sr. who originally owned Pizzeria Uno where the deep dish pizza was born. At Pizano’s they make deep dish and thin crust pizzas from a secret dough recipe still today made by Rudy Jr.’s 83year-old mother who is one of the only people who know the exact recipe.

pizza at Chicago's Pizano's - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

Word on the street is Pizano’s makes Oprah’s favourite pizza and Bill Clinton once held up Air Force one so that he could get a slice himself while in Chicago.

At Pizano’s we tried three different pizzas. First their classic deep dish pizza with their butter infused dough, crushed tomatoes, cheese and basil (there may of also been sausage? It was tasty either way). Eating it you could taste delicious buttery pockets as you bit through the dough, a bit greasy but delicious and it had a nice garlic zing to it too. On the side we ate a thin crust mushroom pizza and a thin crust sausage pizza.

I was on this tour with my good friend and business partner Stephanie and together we helped each other keep pace eating the pizza and by that I mean…. every time there was extra pizza to be had we made sure we each got a slice. I was worried about getting too full at the first place but I was determined to make it through.

cailin and chicago deep dish pizza - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

Mmmmm pizza

Next we hopped onboard the pizza bus or as they like to call it “Dough Force One” to head to Coal Fire Pizza. This was my first time taking a food tour where we were driven to each location. All food tours I have taken until now we have had to walk, which is good for burning the calories off from the food you are eating but I always feel a little rushed. Having the bus we easily got from one place to the next like a breeze, saw more of the city and weren’t limited to pizza places that were just in walking distance from each other.

coal fire pizza oven - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

Coal Fire Pizza is the only coal fired pizza place in the city. While stopping in we got a view of how they made their pizzas and we sat to enjoy what I think was the BEST pizza of the tour.

white pizza with whipped ricotta at coal fire pizza - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

This was the White Pizza (as in no tomato sauce) – Toppings included Mozzarella, whipped ricotta, oregano, garlic olive oil, pepper, chopped garlic and basil. Served fresh and hot out of the oven. I had never had ricotta on a pizza before and this was fresh hand whipped ricotta made right on site. It was out of this world.

white pizza with whipped ricotta at coal fire pizza close up - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

Yes it was even better than it looks.

Our second tasty pie at Coal Fire Pizza was my FAVOURITE of the whole tour. It was also apparently everyone else’s favourite too because I could hardly get a photo of it before people were grabbing at it and it was gone.

pepperoni and whipped ricotta pizza at coal fire pizza - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

Pepperoni and whipped ricotta, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce (made with tomatoes from Italy that grow on the side of Mt. Vesuvius to be exact), thick cut pepperoni and garlic. I could eat this pizza every day for the rest of my life and be a happy lady. This is the kind of pizza a girl asks to marry her.

At Coal Fire Pizza Stephanie and I spilt three slices. We would of gone for another slice but by the time we were ready to grab one it was time to leave. We both let out an audible “Awww” as we were sad to leave. Note to self, must come back here on my next visit to Chicago and eat ALL of the pizza.

Pequod's pizza Chicago - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

Next stop was Pequod’s. Every local that Stephanie and I had talked to before going on this tour told us that we MUST go here and basically that if the tour didn’t take us here it sucked. Thankfully they took us here.  Pequod’s (named after the whale in Moby Dick. Why? I’m not sure.) Is known as having one of the best deep dish pizzas in town, some even call it world famous.

Peqoud's deep dish pepperoni and sausage pizza - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

We were served up a deep dish pizza with tons of mozzarella, pepperoni and Chicago style sausage. Pequod’s is known for adding extra mozzarella to their crust that caramelizes and slightly burns. When you order one don’t think they burnt your pizza it was done on purpose and is crunchy delicious. This was the messiest and ooozeyist of all of the pizza’s. Served piping hot I had to tackle this one with a fork and knife.

As we left Pequod’s I started feeling full, but thankfully the next and last stop was on the far side of town, the ride there along the lakeshore gave us enough time to digest to make room for the next stop.

Last but not least was Flo & Santo’s, known for their mix of pizza, pub and Polish-American fare where we were served two types of South side Chicago Tavern style pizza. The first was Marco’s Italian Beef pizza. It was pretty much an Italian beef sandwich thrown on top of a pizza. The toppings included shaved beef, giardiniera (an Italian-American relish made of pickled vegetables) with a kick, fire roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and cheese.

flo and santo's pizza - Chicago Pizza Tours aka 3ish Hours of Heaven

The second was known as “Flo’s Polish” and was basically an Italian-Polish pizza fusion… I will admit I was expecting perogies on top. The toppings included Polska kielbasa (a type of Polish sausage), sauerkraut, and apple wood smoked bacon. I think my tastebuds were getting overwhelmed at this point but my favourite from Flo & Santo’s was definitely the Italian beef. I think it was the giardiniera that gave it a nice kick and really made the pizza stand out.

After our last stop the tour wasn’t over and our guide gave us a bit more info about the pizza and the city as we returned to Pizano’s where we first began. Surprisingly I wasn’t “OMG I need to unbutton my pants and have a nap” kind of full after the tour. Don’t get me wrong I was definitely full but more of a delightful, “I’m feeling accomplished” kind of full. So basically would I recommend taking this tour? YES. Yes I would. Would I recommend you moving to Chicago and just eating pizza for the rest of your life? Yep! Probably would recommend that too, and am considering it myself.

To learn more about their pizza tours visit www.ChicagoPizzaTours.com

Special thanks to Chicago Pizza Tours for having me on the tour. As always all opinions and views expressed are my own as is my full belly and delighted taste buds.

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Bali Attractions
    August 20, 2014 at 12:34 am

    so delicious!

  • Reply
    Audrey
    July 6, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Awesome hat! I just got back from Chicago and I somehow managed to eat deep-dish pizza every single day I was there. My favourite one ended up being Uno’s. ;)

  • Reply
    Debbie
    June 27, 2014 at 5:23 am

    I tried chicago style pizza in San Fransisco and it was simlpy amazing!!
    xx

  • Reply
    Caro
    June 26, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    MIND IS BLOWN. We’re SERIOUS pizza fans and unfortunately had very little time (less than 24hrs) in Chicago so we quickly tasted some Lou Manalti’s (spelling?) and I didn’t think much of it. But obviously I need to get on this tour!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Ashley Wanders
    June 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    All of that pizza looks amazing- especially the one with the whipped ricotta!!

  • Reply
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas
    June 26, 2014 at 6:11 am

    I can’t even handle this. It’s been two whole years since I’ve been home, and I’m about ready to eat my arm (and, coincidentally, this Chicagoan prefers thin crust!!)!

    • Reply
      Cailin
      June 26, 2014 at 10:42 am

      hahaha please don’t harm yourself because of me! Enjoy your trip back! :)

  • Reply
    Susan
    June 26, 2014 at 3:44 am

    OMG!! I wanted to do this tour so much..but didn’t have the time! So envious!!!

    • Reply
      Cailin
      June 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Susan! You should of made the time! It was the best!! haha Now you have to come back!

  • Reply
    Chanel | Cutural Xplorer
    June 26, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I myself am not a deep dish girl but your pictures slightly tempted me into becoming a convert…. I could stare at those slices all day. Yummy. Great write up, you could sell anyone on Chicago style with this piece :)

    • Reply
      Cailin
      June 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Awww thanks Chanel! The deep dish was really good but really filling!

  • Reply
    Lindsay
    June 26, 2014 at 12:16 am

    OMG that white pizza looks BOMB. And you look amazing in that hat! (I mean duh!). I definitely need to make a return trip to Chicago and properly sample their pizza!

    • Reply
      Cailin
      June 26, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Thanks! I tend to look good in the odd pizza hat or two! haha You must come back and have a proper eat of all the things! :) Way better than that NYC pizza! ;)

  • Reply
    Alouise
    June 25, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    This tour looks awesome. I haven’t had Chicago deep dish before either, but it looks delicious.

    • Reply
      Cailin
      June 25, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      It was so great!! Also if you visit you must try a “Chicago dog” which is what everyone kept telling me and I had one and it was pretty awesome. Its a hotdog with mustard, onions, hot peppers, pickles and there might of been relish too. A lot of stuff on it and its so tasty!

  • Reply
    Lisa | LLworldtour
    June 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Move to Chicago! The pizza is calling. ;) I’m so excited they are opening a Coal Fire in my ‘hood!

    • Reply
      Cailin
      June 25, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      I would move to Chicago…. but its not near an ocean. I need the salt water to live and breath! I don’t think I could ever be land locked even though it has that huge lake next to it ;) I would definitely visit again and again though :) Can you mail me some pizza?

  • Reply
    Anne
    June 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I have only three things to say:
    1. YUM
    2. #FOMO
    3. Nice hat…

    • Reply
      Cailin
      June 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      I approve of all 3 of those comments haha Glad you enjoyed it :) Maybe I’ll come visit you in Cali and we can do a food tour together while wearing the best hats ever.

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