RECOMMENDED: Chicago pizza guide
Pizza Art CaféThis eatery—with its candlelit room and wood-burning oven busy baking two dozen types of pie—is a welcome discovery. The ’za is somewhere between Chicago-style bar pizza and the relatively spare Neapolitan varieties and can be served on a Sicilian-esque, focaccia crust. There’s also strong representation from Italy’s Dalmatian coast neighbors; some Bosnian specialties show up on a “secret” menu that diners can request. We were impressed with the cevapcici, sausage dressed with a creamy cheese and raw onions, cushioned in fresh-cooked pita. But our absolute favorite of the lot is the house-cured smoked beef: dense, chewy, salty and, like most great works of art, complex. 4658 N Rockwell St (773-539-0645). Dinner (Tue–Sun). Average main course: $12.
Pizzeria AromaDespite its Sbarro-ish appearance (a strip-mall location will do that), this slice shop packs oodles of charm. Normally pedestrian dishes boast surprisingly big flavors here, and gigantic slices of pizza sport a tangy housemade sauce and (if you so choose) a thick focaccia-like crust. Likewise, peppery housemade meatballs make for hearty subs, and panini are stuffed with smoky bacon and fresh spinach. Canadian poutine makes an appearance on the menu, too, but take a cue from all the Pacino posters hanging on the walls and stick with the Italian stuff. 1125 W Berwyn Ave (773-769-4900). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $10.
Pompei on TaylorThe thin-versus-thick debate means nothing at the original Pompei, which has been making traditional thickish, square, Sicilian bakery–style pizza since 1909. Pompei has fancier digs and a gussied-up menu this century, luring healthy types from the nearby medical centers for crisp salads with addictive housemade dressings. If you come during lunch, be prepared for long cafeteria lines: For these slices, hand-cut pastas and classic pepper-and-egg sandwiches, there are plenty of die-hard fans. 1531 W Taylor St (312-421-5179). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $8.