I love eating pizza.

Chicago’s pizza has been getting a lot of attention lately.

First, Jon Stewart delivered an epic rant against deep dish. Then, The Rahmfather sent him a little something. Finally, there was an official apology involving an emissary from the Malnati family. Somehow, despite all this coverage, something important was lost.

I love deep dish. I eat it semi-regularly and have strong opinions about whose crust, sauce, and baking methods are best. (I’ll take this opportunity to pour one out for Rolling Meadows Gino’s East, the recently-demolished graffiti pizza parlor.) Many other locals feel the same way, including some who are so passionate about pizza that they will lie, cheat, and steal to get some. It is just plain wrong, however, to write off Chicago’s pizza as strictly deep dish and pan pizza–which are not necessarily the same thing!

Chicago does indeed have many, many options for thin crust pizza. It is, by and large, a far cry from New York style pizza. Here are some key differences:

–Thin crust pizza should not fold in half. It should not be floppy or dripping grease.

–Thin crust pizza should be cut into little squares, not triangles.

–Thin crust pizza should be crispy, and the edge pieces should crunch when you bite them.

–Toppings are the best when they’re hiding under the cheese, not dumped on top of it. This keeps them from drying out during baking.

This is how we do it.

The true breadth and depth of pizza in this city and its hinterlands extend far beyond matters of crust. A truly diverse pizza scene exists, enabling an adventurous diner to spend weeks or even months eating his or her way through one of several best-of lists:

Chicago Magazine‘s 25 Best Pizzas in Chicago

The 20 Best Pizzas in Chicago from Chicagoist

–A selection of lists from pizza junkies, pie freaks, and general food fanatics from Yelp Chicago


I love metaphysical elegance.

“Chicago has a strange metaphysical elegance of death about it.”
–Claes Oldenburg

He also said of Chicago, “The real art here is architecture, or anything that really stands up.” Here is Oldenburg’s Batcolumn, which you can find at 600 West Madison.

I love film writing.

When every city now boasts a plethora of film critics, ranging from newspaper journalists to bloggers and trade journal writers, it may not seem that film writing has any special connection to Chicago. Historically speaking, however, film criticism was born and raised in the Windy City.

In 1914, the Chicago Tribune ran the first motion picture review column, written by journalism’s first official film critic, Jack Lawson. According to A Million And One Nights: A History of the Motion Picture, his career as a movie critic was short lived, as he died in an accident at the Chicago Press Club (?!?) shortly after the inception of the column. He was succeeded by the popular and influential Kitty Kelly (a pseudonym for Audrie Alspaugh, who later moved to the Chicago Examiner) and then Mae Tinee (originally the pseudonym of Frances Smith, but later of many others). By 1925, there were 400 film critics writing for American newspapers.

Mae wrote many positive reviews of Louise Brooks movies.

One cannot discuss film criticism without mentioning the late, great Roger Ebert, who was not only a great Chicagoan but a hugely influential film writer on an international scale. The New York Times eulogized him as the first film writer to become a multi-media brand. In 1975, Ebert was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, marking Chicago as the city where he made the world take film writing seriously.

There are, of course, still movie critics in Chicago. Indeed, the Chicago Film Critics Association has over 60 members and mounts a film festival each year. Among their ranks are the podcasters of Filmspotting and the insightful film writer Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.