Continuing our hunt for Chicago’s best

When we created our new list of Chicago’s 25 best pizzas, my fellow Food & Dining reporter Nick Kindelsperger and I knew we’d eat a lot more than that. So how do we honor those that are great, but just didn’t make the list this time?

a slice of pizza sitting on top of a table: Peaches en regalia seasonal special pizza with 'nduja at Grateful Bites Pizza Shoppe in Winnetka.

© Louisa Chu / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Peaches en regalia seasonal special pizza with ‘nduja at Grateful Bites Pizza Shoppe in Winnetka.

First, I have to tell you, I hate “best of” lists. Sure, I use them too, but only as part of my own reporting. Here’s the truth we should all know by now: Not all list-makers go to the places they include. We do, and I have the pizza pounds to prove it.

Whether it’s deep dish, tavern-style, woodfired, pan, bakery or those that defy categorization; in the city, on the North, South and West sides, and suburbs, near and far: We go there. We are pizza inclusive.

Our last Craving pizza list was published in September 2016. Our past selves couldn’t have had any idea that four years later we’d revisit pizza in a world of pandemic and protests, though we probably suspected that partisan politics would still be around.

Speaking of which, everyone seemed to think we’d have a food fight while making our new best pizzas list, but we decided it diplomatically. I guess that’s what can happen with trust, respect and deep pizza knowledge.

We also understand what lists mean for you, not only diners, but also pizzeria owners and workers, now more than ever. You’re trusting us not just to recommend the best pizzas, but what’s worth a trip outside of your neighborhood or across town.

So how about, between you and me, we call this list something like “the best pizzas beyond the top 25 in the Chicago area right now”? Not algorithm-friendly, but we’re human and know what that means. If you have a better name, let us know. Better yet, if you have a favorite pizza we need to eat, tell us please. It’s almost always better when shared, however you slice it.

With this list, we’re also relaunching our Cravings series, a monthly look at Chicago’s dining scene organized by category — sandwiches, fried foods, dumplings and so much more. After more than four years, we suspended the series at the onset of the pandemic stay-at-home order, as restaurants were closed across the state. Now with so many restaurants reopened, we are heading back out, in most cases for takeout. The project will take on different forms, focusing on the foods that bring us all comfort in these times, and instead of the monthly focus, a less rigid structure. And starting with pizza.

Check back every weekday for favorites from our entire team.

Grateful Bites

This is just to say I have eaten the peaches that were on the pizza, to borrow from the famous poem by William Carlos Williams, but I really have, and with spicy spreadable ‘nduja too. That particular seasonal pie is gone, but you could and should get the signature elote pizza ($16) by owner Matt Halack at Grateful Bites in Winnetka. Halack started out making his woodfired, Neapolitan-inspired style from a mobile oven, but opened up shop with wife and co-owner Sarah in 2017. His creative and classic toppings complement a lovely, leopard-spotted crust. Check their Instagram then order ahead for takeout only with curbside pickup by car or on foot. You can dine at a tiny table out front, or walk around back to the hidden patio to eat outside as weather permits.

899 Green Bay Road, Winnetka; 847-386-9141; — L.C.


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