On Friday he revealed his top three deep dish pizzas in the city; this is his top three in the suburbs. It's the fourth and final installment of his Pizza Quest.
Top 5 Chicago Deep Dish Pizzas (Suburbs)
My number three deep dish resides in west suburban Elmwood Park, at Old World Pizza, where they've been loading up their dough with two types of mozzarella and fennel-laced sausage since 1990. A sprinkling of pecorino romano adds a nice touch, and the locals love the high-sided, cheesy interiors.
"It's a very small place, everything we do is a quick turnaround; everything is fresh-made sauce daily, sauces, everything, dough because we don't have the space," said owner Jimmy Cannistra.
My number two deep dish pizza resides in south suburban Crestwood at the beloved Louisa's, whose founder worked at Pizzeria Due for more than 20 years. An oil-rich dough rests for almost a day before getting loaded up with part-skim mozzarella, Anichini sausage and California vine-ripened tomatoes. Baked for 25 minutes, the pizza manages to attain that perfect ratio of cheese to sauce to crust, which somehow maintains its exterior crispness.
For my number one choice, you've got to head to Oak Brook, where a fantastic dough and a caramelized cheesy edge - a nod to Pequod's - are the hallmarks at Pizza Barra, located in the Oak Brook Promenade.
"Lots of great extra virgin olive oil and long fermentations, and then going back to the ingredients, we have a special cheese we put on, the tomatoes we dress lightly," said owner Rich Labriola.
Labriola knows his dough - he's a bread baker by trade, after all - and this dough rests for two days. But it's those brightly acidic tomatoes with a hint of oregano and cayenne; fennel-jammed sausage from an Alsip butcher and that blend of bel paese provolone and two kinds of mozzarella that makes this deep dish stand out.
"The stone oven is so important. It's not that you can't make a good pizza in a steel, revolving oven, it's that you can make a better pizza in a stone deck oven," Labriola said. "It's a much mellower heat because the dough has to rise slowly."
I realize deep dish is kind of a love-hate proposition for pizza lovers in Chicago, but if you do have the stomach space and you want to commit to one of these giant pies, then definitely make a trip out to Pizza Barra.
#3: Old World Pizza
North Tower Plaza, 7230 W North Ave # 206, Elmwood Park
14025 S. Cicero Ave., Crestwood
#1: Pizza Barra
3011 Butterfield Rd, Oak Brook