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  1. Best place to go nuts over crust Pizza Metro
    The quarter-inch thin crust at this storefront joint run by two cousins from Rome has a pleasantly bready, slightly sourdough flavor. The secret? Chefs roll dough onto 32-inch pans before �prebaking� each sheet with a layer of housemade marinara sauce to keep the crust moist inside and crispy outside. Then the nine- and 18-inch rectangular pies are customized with more than 20 toppings; go crazy and divide your pizza into �quarters� with different ingredients like zucchini and fresh basil buried under a thick blanket of mozz (or blue cheese) and baked one more time. The good news? You won�t wait longer than 15 minutes for your pie. The bad? The pizzeria gets rowdy with late-night revelers looking to dig into a booze-soaking snack. Save the trip for a mellow night so you can savor some of the creative combos�we love the addictive rosemary and potato pizza. 1707 W Division St, 773-278-1753.

  2. Best place to clam up Piece
    Hand-tossed pies are served until 12:30am on weekends at this boisterous pizzeria/microbrewery in Wicker Park. Traditional New Haven toppings like clams, goat cheese and mashed potatoes dress up the �zas, �bercrispy pies that are ordered one of three ways: �red� (lots of tomato sauce and mozzarella), �plain� (lots of tomato sauce and some Parmesan cheese) and �white� (no sauce, just garlic, brushed-on olive oil and mozzarella). We�re smitten with the red version topped with crispy pepperoni and juicy banana peppers. The golden, generously sized pies come out piping hot, so have one of the award-winning house-brewed drafts on hand before you tuck into that first bite. 1927 W North Ave, 773-772-4422.

  3. Best place for a gimmicky �za that doesn�t suck Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder
    At this homey Lincoln Park spot, the chefs couldn�t care less about deep dish or thin crust. They�ve been churning out their own interpretation�the pizza pot pie�since 1972. Baked in a bowl with cheese on the bottom, toppings in the middle and the slightly sugary, quarter-inch crust on top, the pie is flipped cheese-side up on your plate by your server. Imagine an Italian grandmother�s homemade pasta sauce brimming with spicy sausage, garlic, green peppers, ripe plum tomatoes and golf ball-size fresh mushrooms. Now imagine that mess of deliciousness enveloped in a thick, melted blend of Italian cheese. If you think you feel stuffed after deep dish, devouring one of these �individual size� half-pound bad boys will make you feel like you�ll never fit in your jeans again. 2121 N Clark St, 773-248-2570.

  4. Best place to convince yourself pizza is healthy Crust
    When words like certified organic are thrown around, the hype�and hipsters�tend to follow. But this Wicker Park pizzeria is not as pretentious as you might expect, and we love it. Light, fluffy flatbread crusts come out on wooden pizza paddles and are speckled with airy, just-baked bubbles. And unlike the overcooked, oily toppers you�ve come to expect on a pizza, the toppings here are blindingly bright and clean-flavored�like they were picked fresh off the vine. Skip the standard Basilico (tomatoes, creamy white sauce, mozzarella and basil) and Pepperonata (tomatoes, pepperoni, peppers, mozzarella and provolone) options for the savory BLT, which comes adorned with bacon, fresh tomato, Amish blue cheese and arugula. The smoky shrimp, Chihuahua cheese, pico de gallo, heirloom peppers and cilantro on the spicy, gooey Mexicali Blues (pictured) is another taste of magic. 2056 W Division St, 773-235-5511.

Best specialty pizza

For lovers of crust and clams, these pizza joints serve a slice that's nice.


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