The 7 Best Chicago Slices You Haven't Tried Yet

Photographed by Grace Willis.
Who has the best pizza in Chicago? If you're brave enough to raise our city's mostly hotly debated question, you're likely to hear a host of familiar responses. And, that’s just fine: Those restaurants are famous for a reason. But, Chicago is the City of Neighborhoods, and across its 237 square miles, it has a treasure-trove of lesser-known spots that have their own rabid loyalists.
West, North, and South, every side of Chicago has its own go-to neighborhood spots it counts on for its favorite pizza. What makes a great pie? We'd argue that, in addition to fresh ingredients and a hot oven, the key ingredient is institutional knowledge — a claim that's supported by the fact that all of the legendary local spots on our list are venerable. While we wouldn't presume to pen a comprehensive list of the city's best pies, we will say that the next time you're near one of these local hotspots, you won't be disappointed if you take the time to stop in for a slice or two. Or three.
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Caponie’s Trattoria
A Harlem Avenue favorite since 1996, Caponie's recently relocated to new digs a little farther north on Irving Park Road. The new space is fantastic, but it's the family-recipe eats that continue to wow — including wood-fired pizzas.

Delivery/takeout is big business here, but there's something to be said for grabbing a seat in the BYO and enjoying a hot pie right out of the oven. You’ll appreciate the freshness of the crust, and the pizzas burst with flavor. The pepperoni and provolone blow us away, but whether you opt for straight cheese (gorgonzola or fontina, anyone?) or load it up with a few of the custom ingredients, such as Italian beef, hot peppers, or grilled zucchini, it's hard to go wrong. You can also put your fate in the hands of the chef with one of the many specialty pies, like the Pizza alla Caponies (roasted red peppers, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, and portobello mushroom).

Caponie's Trattoria, 7419 West Irving Park Road (at Osceola Avenue); 773-804-9024.
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Club Lago
Remember when River North was called Smokey Hollow? Neither do we, but that's when this downtown classic specializing in Northern Italian cuisine was founded. Family owned since its inception in 1952, Club Lago is a refreshingly authentic and casual destination in an ever-trendier downtown dining scene. It may also be the only Italian restaurant in Chicago that doesn't serve pizza — but it does serve a helluva pizza-bread appetizer. Loaded with sausage and cheese, the scaled-down treat is the perfect kickoff to a hearty meal or accompaniment to a glass of house wine after work. The owners can usually be found monitoring the goings-on in the dining room, so don't be afraid to strike up a conversation about anything — especially old Chicago.

Club Lago, 331 West Superior Street (at North Orleans Street); 312-951-2849.
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Named after owner Roger Wroblewski's father-in-law, Ignotz is one of a handful of old-school Italian destinations in Pilsen's Heart of Chicago neighborhood. (For those who haven't been, the neighborhood is a must-visit, and its annual Festa Pasta Vino is one of the city’s most fun, if unheralded, annual to-dos.) Ignotz, like the neighborhood, is old-school to its bones: Look for red-and-white checkered tablecloths, murals depicting the good life in the old country, and most importantly, homemade food like mama used to make. The space is often packed before and after Hawks games, but it's always a good time to pop up in and enjoy a classic Chicago thin-crust 'za loaded with garlic and fresh tomatoes.

Ignotz, 2421 South Oakley Avenue (at West 24th Place); 773-579-0300.
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Mama Luna's
When you step into Belmont-Cragin restaurant Mama Luna's, you're stepping into another era. Sure, retro is en vogue, but the number of Chicago spots dating back as far as this 1960 institution are few and far between. Slide into a booth in the burgundy-and-white hued lounge, which is steeped in Chicago lore, and you'll be ready for a little house red and "Nights in White Satin." Mama Luna's is worth a visit on ambience alone, but its 'za is one of the best around. In fact, its classic Chicago thin-crust was once awarded first place at the annual Chicago Pizza Fest. But, they also have a standout thick crust. Feeding a crowd? Try the 16-inch by 36-inch Megaball pie, thick or thin.

Mama Luna's, 5019 West Fullerton Avenue (at North Leclaire Avenue); 773-889-3020.
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Marie's Pizza & Liquors
Looking for an old-school Chicago spot? North Side-institution Marie's Pizza and Liquors has been family owned and operated since 1940. Its dining room, decked out in red-upholstered booths and skyline murals, has remained proudly unreconstructed since 1979. As the name suggests, one must walk through a liquor store to reach the restaurant — so go ahead and choose a bottle of wine to accompany your dinner. Thursday through Saturday, you’ll find live music, and any day of the week, classic Italian hospitality and cuisine in spades. You can get whatever you want on your perfectly browned classic Chicago pie with a razor-thin crust, but you can’t go wrong with Marie's Special: sausage, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Done and done!

Marie's Pizza and Liquors, 4127-4129 West Lawrence Avenue (at Kedvale Avenue); 773-725-1812.
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Phil's Place
Whether you're a Bridgeport denizen or heading home from a Sox game, you'd do well to visit this South Side institution to pick up a real Chicago 'za. Serving the area since 1960, Phil's is famous for laying the ingredients on exceptionally thick — especially the sausage and peppers, serving 'em piping hot and browning the cheese to perfection. What more can one ask from a pizza? FYI, it's cash only, but those who make the effort will understand why a million South Siders can't be wrong.

Phil’s Pizza, 1102 West 35th Street (at South Aberdeen Street); 773-548-3203.
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Vito & Nick's Pizzeria Restaurant and Lounge
A perennial contender for the best 'za in Chicago by authorities near and far, family-owned South Side destination Vito & Nick's has been in business for almost 90 years and featured on everything from Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives to Check, Please! The menu includes pastas, sandwiches, and Italian apps galore — but it's the Sicilian-style thin crust that keeps this spot on the map. The crust is made with a secret recipe, but what diners are more likely to notice are the mounds of mozza and house-made sausage in every bite. Vito & Nick's doesn't deliver, so those wishing to experience one of Chicago's most famous pizzas will have to slot time in to visit.

Vito & Nick’s, 8433 South Pulaski Road (at West 84th Place); 773-735-2050.

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