We had had countless squares and slices in Chicago before Ernie and I started searching the corners of the city for the best pizza. Father & Son, Candlelight, Congress, Lou Malnati’s, Aurelio’s, Dante’s, Vito & Nick’s, and, heck, even Pizza Hut. We had enjoyed the caramelized crust at Pequod’s countless times. But after awhile, the Hound and I started looking even deeper to find the best pizzas in Chicago, and one of our first stops was Pat’s Pizza in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.
First opened for business in 1950, Pat’s is one of the oldest pizza establishments in the city. The words “Since 19__” go a long way with us in choosing a pizza place. It’s a symbol of trust and dependability. Chicagoans probably wouldn’t have put up with a place for that long if it wasn’t any good.
If you don’t know already, Lincoln Park is an undeniably beautiful neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. When Pat’s opened in the mid-20th Century, Lincoln Park was populated by a number of different immigrant groups, and during the 1950s through the ’70s and beyond the area was home to a large Puerto Rican community. Most housing in the area consists of older two- and three-flat buildings. Newer luxury condos pop up all over the place, too. In recent decades, the neighborhood has developed quite a trendy reputation and rents have risen substantially. It’s a bit expensive for us but the architecture sure is pretty to look at.
Things may have changed in Lincoln Park, but the pizza at Pat’s classic old school Chicago. Ernie first directed us there during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final while we were supporting one of professional hockey’s classic teams, the Chicago Blackhawks. You could feel the playoff buzz in the air. All kinds of people were wearing jerseys. With the game on WGN radio, we headed from Logan Square to Lincoln Avenue between Diversey and Wrightwood.
Pat’s specializes in the thin pizza–ultra thin. Cracker-like, but that doesn’t do it justice. In fact, it would prove to be one of thinnest pizzas we would have in Chicago. It also had a nice proportional amount of toppings and what seemed like quality cheese. An excellent pizza!
Chicago is famous for its deep dish pizza, and that reputation is well-deserved. But Chicagoans love thin crust, too, and some would argue even more so than the thick stuff. Most of the smaller pizzerias found in outlying neighborhoods focus primarily on thin crust, square-cut pizzas. In fact, when you call up and order a large sausage pizza, you will more than likely, without being asked for clarification, be given a thin crust sausage pizza.
And this place has been open for 65 years, which should tell you how much Chicagoans love thin, tavern-cut pizza. Apparently, Roger Ebert loved this place, too.
The pizza was great. I just wish we had taken some photos.
Pat’s Pizza & Ristorante is located at 2679 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60614