This place has the art of pizza down! The Art of Pizza on Ashland in Lakeview was voted the #1 deep dish pizza per the Chicago Tribune. However, this was several years back in 2001. It was also ranking by Thrillest as the Best Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago in 2015 (fairly more recent).
“There truly is an art to great pizza-specifically, Art Shabez, who owns this Lakeview storefront. There’s room for, at most, 22 diners in the spare but clean front room, but carryout and delivery are what drive Art’s business. The judges raved about Art of Pizza’s near-perfect, golden-brown crust, a terrific base for a tomato sauce that had nice, herby flavors, and excellent cheese flecked with dried oregano. Shabez’s pizza philosophy? ‘I use the best of everything. That’s about it,’ he says.” – Chicago Tribune
I knew the owner’s name had to be Art! What a clever play on words.
Now, the Chicago Tribune decided to include “stuffed” pizza in their poll, which according to them (below) is different than deep dish, also referred to as “pan.” The Art of Pizza offers both and I’ve tried both (the pan I tried by accident, which I’ll explain on later). Both are great! The most recent I tried, pictured below, is the pan. I would say that Art’s stuffed is more of what I would consider deep dish, and my humble opinion, is better. However, the Tribune, in their search for the best deep dish, only judged the pan pizza at places that offered both stuffed and pan.
More on stuffed vs. deep-dish (pan): “More problematic was the issue of stuffed pizza. Stuffed pizza is not quite the same as deep-dish (also called “pan”); it starts with a deep-dish base, but then includes a second, thin-rolled covering of dough that separates the cheese from the sauce. Some of the nominees offered pan and stuffed pizza; some offered only stuffed. After much soul-searching, we elected to include stuffed pizza in the judging. But for those restaurants that offered both, we judged the pan only.” – Chicago Tribune
Thrillest ranked Art’s stuffed. I disagree about the sausage though. I had the stuffed Art’s Special which is sausage, onion, mushroom, and green pepper topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, all stuffed into a delicious golden brown, flaky crust, and then topped with spicy (not hot spicy), flawlessly balanced (just the right sweetness and perfectly acidic) tomato sauce. I thought the sausage was just fine.
“A Tribune poll some years ago named this the best deep dish in town, and as far as stuffed goes, we won’t argue. It just gets everything right, from the flaky crust to the brightly spiced tomato sauce on top. For Lakeview, at least, it revived a style that had gotten kind of chain-boring. The pizza is big and robust enough on its own that we wouldn’t even mess with meat. Cheese or spinach is fine (and the sausage is a little weird, anyway).” – Thrillest
Alright, now that we’ve discussed that this may be one of the best deep dish pizzas in Chicago and what the difference is between pan and stuffed, I’d like to elaborate on my recent experience.
So, my boyfriend and his roommates are moving out of his apartment and I’m helping. We take longer than we thought (per usual) and we’re all starving by the time we’re done (it’s past dinner time and I get hangry). His brother owes them lunch so he offers to pay for dinner and suggests Art of Pizza. Of course, we’re all down to indulge in some exquisite pizza. We’d all tried their deep dish pizza (stuffed, just to clarify). I had it only once before. We were finishing up some final tasks and I called to place a carry-out order to pick up on the way to their place. My boyfriend specified that I ask for deep dish. I did and they asked if I wanted pan or stuffed. Pan or stuffed? I thought stuffed = stuffed crust so naively I said pan thinking that was what we had order before. Well, we get there and our order isn;t quite ready yet (we’re early). We decide to just eat there since we’re all hangry at this point (moving sure works up an appetite) and it’ll take a while by the time the pizza is ready and we make the drive out to their new place.
Art’s was very accommodating when we asked to eat there (they have very nice service). We all dig in as soon as they bring that bad boy out to our table. I didn’t even reflect that it wasn’t the same pizza I’d had before. It was still delicious but finally I realized, as I was looking at the gooey yet golden brown cheese seasoned with oregano and other Italian spices (sorry, tangent), that the sauce wasn’t on top. My boyfriend agreed and said he knew knew something was off but none of us really cared since it was hitting the spot. Later, as I more closely examined their menu, I realized that I hadn’t scrolled down all the way. I thought the pan was the deep-dish and didn’t keep scrolling. Also, I didn’t know what stuffed meant (it seems so obvious now).
Long store short, the pan was very good. The crust was thick and flaky, cooked all the way (no raw dough in sight). The sauce was really pleasant, a slight sweetness and tang, and well seasoned and the toppings (or fillings really) were fresh and tasty. The cheese was nicely browned (I love toasty cheese) and it’s lightly sprinkled with dry spices. A really beautiful presentation and the cheese is admirably stringy when you serve up a slice.
I still love Art’s stuffed pizza more. I think it’s the best in the city from what I’ve had so far. Giordano’s deep dish is great too, but I’d say this is better! Added bonus, you’ll be supporting a great local business that has excellent service and dishes out some well-prepared deep dish (stuffed) pizza, if you try it. Try it!