The origins of many of America’s most beloved foods are shrouded in mystery. It’s claimed, for example, that fortune cookies are actually a traditional Japanese confection, but the case is far from closed. The same is true for Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza—theories abound, but proof is hard to find. Here’s a brief summary of what could be the true history of the deep dish pizza:
- In Italy at the turn of the twentieth century, pizza was a side dish, not a main course. It also lacked the cheese, sauce, and meat toppings modern Americans are used to. Those were an Italian-American addition, and by 1905, dishes that modern diners would recognize as “pizza” were being served in US restaurants.
- It seems strange now, because we think of pizza as being as American as apple pie—if not more so—but until WWII, it was largely consumed by Italian-Americans. But then Chicago-style pizza came on the scene, and everything changed.
- This is where accounts get sketchy. We do know that the first deep dish pizza was sold in Chicago in 1943 at a restaurant that underwent a number of name changes before finally settling upon “Pizzeria Uno.” We do not, however, know with any certainty who came up with the deep dish pizza in the first place.
- There are several candidates, including the co-owners of Pizzeria Uno, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo. The pizzeria was originally supposed to be a Mexican restaurant, but Mexican food didn’t agree with Riccardo, so he suggested they open a pizzeria instead. Nevertheless, both men later went on record as saying that it was actually Sewell’s idea to make pizza into an entrée (although, as we’ve already seen, Sewell wasn’t the first person to have that particular idea).
- Sewell is the one whose advertising blitz made the new “Chicago-style” pizza famous, but no one is quite certain who came up with the recipe. Some believe Sewell and Riccardo both had a hand in it, but others believe that a bartender and later manager of Pizzeria Uno named Rudy Malnati was the true brains behind the bread. After over six decades, however, it’s impossible to say who came up with what.
You don’t need to understand the history to enjoy a good pie, though. In fact, you don’t even have to go to Chicago to enjoy a genuine deep dish pizza. Pizz’a Chicago offers the best deep dish pizza in Northern California—not to mention the best pizza delivery. Visit our website to learn more about our famous pizza and to find a restaurant location near you.