The ingredients aren't exclusive to the Windy City, so why is it so damn hard to find a decent Chicago-style pizza outside Illinois? Most places claiming to serve the sauce-on-top deep-dish goodness come up with something that's about as Chicago as Renee Zellweger. But not these... these places, manned by folks with weird accents and Cubs hats, offer the real deal without the benefit of existing in Oprah's kingdom. Open wide: these suckers are enormous.
Chi-nnatis (Madeira, OH)
This place is so hardcore about emulating the Chicago food scene, you half expect the servers to try to mug you in the parking lot. The menu includes Italian sausages, Italian beefs, and poppy-seeded Vienna beef hot dogs. But the pies where it's at, a bubbling mass of cheese and chunky sauce nestled in a cornmeal crust oozing with buttery goodness. The only tell that it's not the real deal is that nobody punches you in the mouth when you order it with pineapples.
Hollywood Pies (Los Angeles, CA)
This LA joint used to do business like Jesse Pinkman's crew... you'd order a pie, then go to a sketchy building and have it clandestinely delivered to your car in the parking lot. They've since opened a proper restaurant, but they didn't really need to. With ingredients shipped from Chi-town and a crust so authentic you'd swear they had a teleporter in the kitchen, you'd probably be willing to score a pie outside a methadone clinic if you needed to.
Zachary's Chicago Pizza (Bay Area, CA)
This employee-owned Bay Area joint has, in 30yrs, expanded to four locations, with people flocking to the joint to get their jaws around the ultra-thick, multi-layered stuffed Chicago pies. Because it's Cali, you can totally get it in bastardized forms like Mediterranean and spinach, but don't worry: the traditional sausage pie's still there, and does a fine job of slapping California cuisine portions in the face with its jowels.
Delfino's Pizza (Seattle, WA)
This University Village favorite serves up pies that might as well be manhole covers, forgoing a set menu for an all build-your-own selection of fillings piled into either a regular deep dish or a traditional stuffed pie. If you're not Chicagoed out yet, grab a Peter Cetera record... oh wait, you're in Seattle. You'll lose cred. Get an Italian beef sandwich on the side instead. Phew.
Di Nokos Pizzeria (Minneapolis, MN)
This Twin Cities favorite'll lose points from purists for putting the sausage on top rather than planing a frisbee of meat underneath the cheese, but these massive pies are the real deal for the non-nitpickers -- saucy behemoths that they'll only cut on request, meaning you can feel perfectly content to just sit down and shove a whole pie in your face without fearing you'll poke your eye out on the end of a slice.