Deep Pan Pizza – a Twist on Chicago-Style Deep Dish – NBC Chicago

While NBC 5’s Food Guy Steve Dolinsky usually ignores made-up food holidays, he can’t resist an opportunity to talk about pizza.

So he’s going deep this week, with a pair of next generation, deep pan pizzas, in celebration of National Pizza Day.

As Chicagoans know, old school joints like My Pi and Lou Malnati’s do deep-dish. They push their crusts up along the walls, baking beneath cheese then toppings and sauce, but the resulting crust is usually flaky. But George Bumbaris’ namesake deep dish shop in Edgewater, he thought, why not do something a little different than traditional deep-dish.

“It’s a biscuit dough. It’s really not a bread dough,” said Bumbaris, owner of George’s Deep Dish.

“And I saw in Greece how they were doing it on a bread called lagana, which is similar to focaccia, and I decided, let me try this route.”

The dough has an all-natural starter and ferments a couple of days. Then, when he’s ready to bake, he takes the following step:

“I let it sit and proof for a few hours, punch it down with my fist and spread it out. We lay down the cheese, lay the sauce down, sprinkle it with some Romano and then whatever other toppings,” he said.

Long fermention creates a pizza with structure.

“You can lift it up and hold it just like any great slice,” said Bumbaris.

A mile away, at Milly’s Pizza in the Pan, Robert Maleski is a one-man operation. Even though he grew up eating Barnaby’s thin crust, a trip to Burt’s in Morton Grove changed his life. He’s been obsessed with that deep pan pizza ever since.

“It has a nice separation between the dough and then there’s a nice frico crust all the way around – caramelized cheese,” said Milly’s owner, Robert Maleski.

His finished pies tend to be more chewy in the middle, crisp on the edge, but at the end of the day, not that deep; certainly not as deep as a stuffed pie, which is another story for another time.

“Traditional deep dish, the dough is more flaky, it’s not risen as much as our pizza is. This is kind of rising for about three hours. So you get a nice crunch on the bottom and a nice fluff in the middle as well,” said Maleski.

Another next-generation deep-pan exists at Lefty’s, with locations in Wilmette and Highland Park. It’s also patterned after the original Burt’s from Morton Grove.

Here’s where you can go:

George’s Deep Dish

6221 N. Clark St.


Milly’s Pizza in the Pan

1005 W. Argyle St.


Lefty’s Pizza Kitchen

1156 Central Ave., Wilmette


600 Central Ave., Highland Park


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