One weird holiday on April 5 is National Deep Dish Pizza Day. Check out the other weird April holidays!
Pizza, a culinary masterpiece loved worldwide, comes in many shapes and sizes. Yet, one particular style stands out for its unique character and hearty indulgence – the deep dish pizza.
National Deep Dish Pizza Day, celebrated on April 5th each year, is a momentous occasion for pizza lovers to revel in the rich layers of cheese, toppings, and tomato sauce encased in a buttery, golden crust.
In this article, we’ll explore the origins of deep dish pizza, its rise to fame in Chicago, how it’s made, and where to find the best slices. So, grab a napkin and prepare for a mouthwatering journey into the world of deep dish pizza.
When Is National Deep Dish Pizza Day?
National Deep Dish Pizza Day occurs every year on April 5.
The Origins of Deep Dish Pizza
The deep dish pizza, often referred to as a “pie,” boasts a history as deep and rich as its layers of toppings. Its origin is closely tied to the bustling streets of Chicago, and like many iconic dishes, it has multiple legends surrounding its creation.
1. Uno’s, Duo’s, or Pizzeria Uno? One of the most popular legends attributes the creation of the deep dish pizza to Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, founders of Pizzeria Uno in Chicago. In 1943, they allegedly decided to create a heartier, more substantial pizza to distinguish themselves from the competition. The result was a pizza with a high, buttery crust, a generous layer of mozzarella cheese, savory toppings, and a chunky tomato sauce. This creation quickly gained a following and became known as “Chicago-style pizza.”
2. A Response to Neapolitan Traditions Another theory is that deep dish pizza was developed as a response to the thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizza that immigrants from southern Italy brought to the United States. It’s said that the thicker, breadier crust of deep dish pizza was better suited to the preferences of Chicagoans, who were accustomed to heartier meals.
3. Rosati’s and the Italian Tradition Rosati’s, a pizzeria established in 1927 by Italian immigrants in Chicago, also claims to have served deep dish pizza well before Pizzeria Uno. According to their account, they were making pizza “Italian style” with a thick, double crust and abundant cheese long before the iconic dish gained widespread recognition.
Regardless of which legend you believe, there’s no denying that deep dish pizza’s roots run deep in Chicago, and it has since become an integral part of the city’s culinary identity.
The Anatomy of a Deep Dish Pizza
At the heart of the deep dish pizza’s allure is its unique structure and mouthwatering ingredients. Let’s deconstruct this iconic dish layer by layer:
1. The Crust:
- Thick and Buttery: The crust of a deep dish pizza is what sets it apart. It’s incredibly thick, often resembling a flaky, buttery pastry. This crust isn’t just a vessel; it’s an essential part of the pizza’s identity.
2. The Cheese:
- Mozzarella Heaven: A deep dish pizza is generously layered with mozzarella cheese. This cheese acts as a creamy, melty foundation for the toppings.
3. The Toppings:
- Versatile Choices: Toppings on a deep dish pizza can vary widely, but classics include sausage, green bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and pepperoni. These toppings are often layered between the cheese and the tomato sauce.
4. The Tomato Sauce:
- Chunky and Tangy: The tomato sauce used in a deep dish pizza is typically chunky, giving it a homemade, rustic feel. It’s often made with canned crushed tomatoes, garlic, and herbs for a robust, tangy flavor.
5. Additional Layers:
- Creative Liberties: While the classic deep dish pizza adheres to this structure, creative pizzerias have experimented with variations over the years. Some may add extra layers of cheese or unique toppings like spinach, artichoke hearts, or sun-dried tomatoes.
How Do You Make a Deep Dish Pizza?
Creating a deep dish pizza requires skill, patience, and a deep-dish pizza pan. Here’s an overview of the process:
- Prep the Dough: Begin by preparing a buttery, yeast-leavened dough. This dough is stretched and pressed into a deep-dish pizza pan, where it covers the bottom and extends up the sides.
- Layer the Cheese: Next comes the generous layer of mozzarella cheese. This layer serves as a barrier, preventing the crust from becoming soggy as it bakes.
- Add Toppings: Add your choice of toppings on top of the cheese layer. This is where you can get creative with combinations that suit your taste.
- Spoon the Sauce: Spread the chunky tomato sauce evenly over the toppings. It should cover the entire surface, adding a burst of tomato flavor.
- Baking Time: Deep dish pizzas are baked at a lower temperature (around 375°F or 190°C) for a longer time, often around 30-40 minutes. This allows the thick crust to bake to a golden brown and the flavors to meld together.
- Slice and Serve: Once out of the oven, allow the pizza to cool slightly before slicing into its signature triangular pieces. The result is a pizza that’s more like a savory pie than a traditional flat pizza.
Where Can You Find the Best Deep Dish Pizza?
While the deep dish pizza may have been born in Chicago, its popularity has spread far and wide. Here are some iconic pizzerias known for their exceptional deep dish creations:
- Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due (Chicago, Illinois): These legendary restaurants, born from the Pizzeria Uno origin story, continue to serve some of the city’s best deep dish pizzas. Whether you visit the original location or its sibling, Pizzeria Due, you’re in for a treat.
- Lou Malnati’s (Chicago, Illinois): Known for their buttery crust and a secret family recipe for tomato sauce, Lou Malnati’s is a must-visit for deep dish pizza connoisseurs.
- Giordano’s (Chicago, Illinois): Giordano’s is renowned for its stuffed deep dish pizza, featuring layers of cheese and toppings enclosed between two crusts. It’s a delightful twist on the classic.
- Gino’s East (Chicago, Illinois): Gino’s East is famous not only for its deep dish pizza but also for encouraging patrons to leave their mark on the restaurant’s walls by writing on them. The crust here is crispy, and the ingredients are top-notch.
- Art of Pizza (Chicago, Illinois): If you’re looking for unique deep dish options, Art of Pizza offers an extensive menu with creative toppings and combinations, catering to a variety of tastes.
- Pequod’s Pizza (Chicago, Illinois): Pequod’s is celebrated for its “caramelized crust,” which results from cheese being cooked along the edges of the pan. It’s a delightful twist on the classic deep dish.
- My Pi Pizza (various locations): My Pi Pizza is known for its commitment to using high-quality ingredients and traditional baking methods to create a true Chicago-style deep dish pizza experience.
- Pizano’s Pizza (various locations): Founded by Rudy Malnati Jr., the son of the founder of Lou Malnati’s, Pizano’s continues the family legacy with its delicious deep dish pies.
National Deep Dish Pizza Day on April 5 is a celebration of culinary excellence that transcends regional boundaries. While it may have originated in the heart of Chicago, deep dish pizza has captured the hearts (and appetites) of people around the world. Its distinctive layers of cheese, toppings, and tomato sauce nestled within a buttery crust create a flavor explosion that’s nothing short of extraordinary.
So, whether you’re a lifelong aficionado of deep dish pizza or you’re just discovering its mouthwatering charm, National Deep Dish Pizza Day is the perfect occasion to savor a slice of this iconic pizza style. Whether you choose to visit a historic Chicago pizzeria or try your hand at making one at home, you’re sure to appreciate the culinary artistry that goes into each slice of this beloved dish.
Ideas for National Deep Dish Pizza Day
Here are some delicious recipes you should try out for National Deep Dish Pizza Day!
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