Who knew? April 5 is National Deep-Dish Pizza Day. Chicago-style deep-dish has been around the city in various incarnations since the 1940s, and the deep-dish pan pizza the world knows today came into its own in the ’70s. Some of the pillars:
Pizzeria Uno claims to have invented what has come to be known as deep dish when founder Ike Sewell created a pizza with a buttery “out-of-this-world” crust that had a tall edge like a fruit pie in 1943 at his restaurant at Ohio & Wabash.
Lou Malnati’s, the oldest of the deep-dish pan-pizza pioneers with its patented Buttercrust sweet and tangy tomatoes; gooey mozzarella cheese; and perfectly seasoned sausage, was founded in 1971 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Giordano’s, another local favorite with more than 20 locations across the city, was founded in 1974, and traces its roots to Torino, Italy, where Mama Giordano made her famous “Italian Easter Pie.”
Gino’s East’s deep-dish distinguishes itself with its unique cornmeal crust. Founded in 1965 by a couple of taxi drivers, it’s got two graffiti-walled locations in the city and three locations in the suburbs.
The Art of Pizza in Lakeview, with its golden-brown crust, has been voted the city’s #1 deep dish several times, and is the rare pizzeria that offers deep dish by the slice.
Pequod’s in Lincoln Park is beloved by locals for its cheesy caramelized “halo” crust, created by sprinkling cheese edge to edge and baking it until it’s crisp.
Rosati’s serves deep dish, stuffed and thin crust pizzas. Starting with one Morton Grove location in 1964, Rosati’s now has more than two dozen locations across the suburbs.
National Deep Dish Pizza Day and Lou Malnati’s 50th anniversary take place in 2021. There are several extant pizza tours in Chicago, with a brand new Self-Guided Deep Dish Pizza Tour – three stops in two hours – debuting on Monday. Tour creator – Chicago native Donald Contursi, founded Finger Licking Foodie Tours.
Finger Licking Foodie Tours Launches an Over-The-Top, Self-Guided, Deep-Dish
Extravaganza Beginning on National Deep-Dish Pizza Day
On the heels of its smash-hit self-guided culinary excursions in Las Vegas, Finger Licking Foodie Tours is excited to announce its first foray into Chicago with its new decadent deep-dish pizza tour, debuting appropriately enough on April 5, National Deep-Dish Pizza Day, and available every day afterward.
The 2-hour self-guided tour provides the most efficient, effortless and profound way to take a delicious deep dive into deep-dish. Chicago-native and Finger Licking Foodie Tours founder Donald Contursi, who grew up on the city’s most iconic dish, has created the ultimate deep-dish tour that allows guests to enjoy not one, not two, but three landmark pizza places, all in one outing. Skip the usual queuing to snag a table or the long wait times for these hefty pies to bake. Instead, guests get seated immediately with VIP service and pizza delivered fresh out of the oven in only 10 minutes, rather than the customary 45 minutes. Especially designed for these changing times, the tour is exclusive to only the host’s invited guests. It also comes complete with an innovative virtual guide that provides fascinating information on each restaurant visited. Best yet, guests can take leftovers home with them.
The tour’s stops represent a who’s who of the deep-dish world: Gino’s East on Superior Street with its fabled graffiti-clad walls and celebrity clientele; Pizzeria Uno on Ohio Street, which claims to be the originator; and Lou Malnati’s on Wells Street, famous for its butter crust crowned with lean sausage that covers the entire circumference of the pizza. All are an easy stroll from one another in the vibrant Magnificent Mile area. At each stop, guests will enjoy a half-cheese, half-sausage pie, made with each establishment’s secret dough recipe passed down from generations and a proprietary sausage blend. A vegetarian option is available upon request. Imagine getting the unheard-of opportunity to judge nearly side-by-side whose pizza you think reigns supreme.
With flexible start times every half hour, the tour is perfect for both visitors and locals alike. It’s also ideal for convention goers or company outings, with an actual professional tour guide provided for groups of 15 or more. The price is $65 per person with gratuities included. An optional $35 beverage package provides a different Chicago beer pairing at each stop. “With the past year proving so challenging to local restaurants, Finger Licking Foodie Tours is proud to provide a thoughtful way to help support multiple Chicago restaurants at one time,’’ Contursi says.
Since its founding only a year ago, Finger Licking Foodie Tours has grown into a wildly successful enterprise known for its ground-breaking culinary walking tours. It is the new sister company to award-winning Lip-Smacking Foodie Tours, the premier culinary walking tour operation in Las Vegas. Finger Licking Foodie Tours has already built a formidable reputation for its agility in adapting quickly to changing times with its innovative self-guided walking tours that are exclusive to only a host’s invited guests.
The tours also include a pioneering e-guide that provides enlightened commentary about each restaurant visited. In Vegas, guests have the opportunity to visit four renowned restaurants either in downtown, the Arts District, Chinatown or the glamorous Aria Resort & Casino. The Chicago tour may be the first foray for Finger Licking Foodie Tours outside of Vegas, but it is a harbinger of many more successful ones to come.
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Watch for a review of the Chicago Over-The-Top, Self-Guided, Deep-Dish Extravaganza coming soon.
Photos are courtesy of Finger Licking Foodie Tours