Food Nation

I Long For Deep Dish Pizza in Houston

In a few weeks I'm going to Chicago, and in addition to catching up with friends and family, I am really really looking forward to having some deep dish pizza. I don't mean pizza that has an extra thick crust and uses crushed tomatoes instead of sauce. Many pizzas masquerade as Chicago-style deep dish by mimicking these two hallmark traits; ultimately, however, they fall short of the real thing.

I mean a pizza that you might actually mistake for a pie because its depth would allow you to bury your entire thumb inside à la Little Jack Horner. I don't know where exactly I will eat one, maybe two wedges of this pizza; I'll let the locals lead me. I do know when I finish I will be very happy and very full and just a bit sad. Because I will going back to Houston where deep dish pizza, at least the kind I'm after, is scarce.

Katharine Shilcutt, whose food criticism and sharp wit I very much admire, called deep dish pizza "the type of pizza that this Texan simply cannot get behind." Oh Katharine, I respectfully disagree. A LOT. But I don't blame your vote of no confidence on why Houston is lacking in Chicago-style deep dish options.

Don't tell me, please, to go to Star Pizza. You don't have to, actually, because I will go anyway because I actually like their "deep dish" pizza. Note, however, the quotes, please. This pizza just has a thicker than average crust and an extra handful of cheese.

I once got very excited when I learned Barry's Pizza & Italian Diner offered deep dish pizza. Upon closer examination, however, I learned that their "deep dish" is actually U.S. Sicilian style (as opposed to original Sicilian), which differs considerably from the Chicago version.

I guess I could drive to Fort Worth to visit Pizzeria Uno, though having tested this chain's pizzas in numerous other locations (Boston, New York, Pennsylvania, Chicago), I can say confidently that the quality varies significantly by region. The Uno deep dish you get in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a far cry from Chicago-style, but, not terribly surprisingly, the Uno deep dish in the Windy City is closer to the real thing.

Chi-town natives now living in Houston, have you found any restaurants here that successfully replicate Chicago-style deep dish? Maybe I'm missing something. Or, is there a secret club that meets to mourn the relative absence of those glorious mile-high wedges of dough and tomato and cheese? If yes, please, please invite me.

If not, I suggest starting an organization to promote the peerless quality of your hometown's pizza. Let's spread the Chicago-style deep dish gospel. Maybe some enterprising restaurateur will address this glaring gap in Houston's pizza offerings.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Joanna O'Leary