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Chefs Settle the Deep Dish Debate Once and for All: Chicago Pizza Is Not Actually Pizza

Reality bites, Chi city!

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Four out of four chefs (kind of) agree: New York has the best pizza. Professionals have finally weighed in on the Chicago vs. New York slice war, and it’s finally, definitively settled, that’s it, forever, no take-backs… deep dish pizza is not actually pizza.

For those of you not up on the deep dish deep-bate (Where have you been? What has distracted you from this issue of national importance?), Jon Stewart incited a pizza rivalry last fall when he said deep dish is “not pizza” but a “tomato soup in a bread bowl… an above ground marinara swimming pool for rats.” In case you missed it, here’s Stewart condemning one part of America’s version of a traditionally Italian dish.

In response to Stewart’s fighting words, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel sent a “deep dish with dead fish” pizza—ostensibly as a symbol of truce, although I think nothing says, “I’m going to make you sleep with the fishes,” more than pizza with an excessive amount of anchovies.

Clearly, Stewart touched a cheesy nerve for Americans, but thanks to Eater’s amazing Pizza Week, this national rivalry can finally be resolved. In a highly scientific, indisputable, take-that study, four respected chefs and restauranteurs from New York and Chicago were asked to dish on the deep pie deep-bacle. Sorry, Chicago, it doesn’t look good.

Graham Eliot of Bistro in Chicago says,

Jon Stewart pretty much nailed it… I can easily say, as much pride and love I have for Chicago, the deep dish pizza here is absolutely an abomination…I feel like it’s a lasagna with a crust.

David Posey of Chicago’s Blackbird agrees with Eliot that deep dish looks like Italian food, just not pizza. Says Posey, “I just more consider [deep dish] a casserole. Both are good. One is pizza; one is not.” Born and bred New Yorker Andrew Zimmerman of Minneapolis’ AZ Canteen says he brings “52 years of hard-core thinking about this issue” to the table, and  “I don’t think [deep dish] is pizza.”

Mathieu Palombino of Motorino in New York appears to be the only deep dish dissenter, saying that, “Although [deep dish] looks more like a cake than a pizza,” he doesn’t

think it’s for me to say it shouldn’t be called pizza. Some people call it Chicago-style pizza. It is what it is. Yeah, sure. If I go to Chicago, I’ll be trying that for sure. Yes, it is a pizza. I wouldn’t dare say no, this is not a pizza. Because there are people who like it and like doing it.

Hmmmm…methinks the chef doth protest too much. Palombino “wouldn’t dare” slander the oft-mocked deep dish? Perhaps he received a threatening dead fish pie of his own.

Regardless of Palombino’s suspicious diplomacy, four of the four chefs interviewed concede that Chicago’s offering does not have the appearance or consistency they typically associate with pizza. One quarter of the chefs say deep dish is “abominable,” two out of four believe it shouldn’t even be called pizza, and another quarter is clearly under some sort of duress and being forced to withhold their pizza o-pie-nions.

Chicago, it may be time to concede defeat and rename your extravagantly messy swamp-pies. Although, at this point I’m so hungry I would actually eat one.

(via Eater, image via Ed Heller )

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