The history of Chicago deep-dish pizza is about as rich as the history of the city itself. The story begins in 1943 when restaurateur Ric Riccardo and liquor distributor Ike Sewell opened the Pizzeria Uno on the corner of East Ohio Street and Wabash Avenue. The famous pizzeria is about a 10-minute walk from the ONA convention center. According to The Chicago Tribune, Sewell, unsatisfied with the appetizer-like portions of a regular slice of pizza, worked to create a thicker crust that would hold more cheese, sauce and toppings.
Though there is much debate as to whether this story is true — historian Tim Samuelson laments to The Chicago Tribune that no documentation of the first deep-dish pizza slice exists — there is little doubt that Pizzeria Uno was the home of deep-dish. According to Robert Komar, the pizzeria’s assistant general manager, the recipe and the restaurant’s supplier have not changed since 1943. In fact, the restaurant’s oldest employee has been working at the restaurant for 38 years, he said.
In a telephone interview, Komar described the essence of a classic Chicago deep-dish slice. He said the pizza must have a thick, pie-like crust, Chicago sausage, a hefty layer of cheese and, finally, a topping of tomato sauce. And it is filling, Komar said, adding that most visitors can only eat two slices.
“If you’re counting your calories, you don’t want to come in here,” he joked. “There’s no holding back here.”
Below is a timeline of the most important moments in Chicago deep-dish history curated from The Chicago Tribune and BBC. Study up, and then go out and try them all. Use the #ONAnews14 hashtag to let us know about your favorite slice!