Breezy Town's Pepperoni Paint Job pie.
You probably know that adage that compares pizza with, um, adult relations: even the mediocre versions are still pretty good. But deep-dish inverts this paradigm: Outside of the most talented practitioners, thick-crust pies can quickly devolve into gut bombs of bland dough.
None of those crimes against pizza appear on this list of Seattle’s best deep-dish, though you will find Chicago-style pies ringed with crispy cheese. For our purposes (and with apologies to purists), we’re counting lofted squares inspired by Rome’s pizza al taglio. The nation’s recent obsession with Detroit-inspired pie has certainly landed here, too. Now, our inventory of the town’s best destinations for deep-dish.
Pick a Pie:
The Cult of Chicago
Dave Lichterman is Seattle’s deep-dish equivalent of that moment in Pleasantville when the black-and-white film bursts into full color. Windy City’s founder left tech to apply his meticulous brain to a caliber of Chicago-style pizza this town had never seen: a marvel of Maillard reaction and sog mitigation. This guy did preorders and sidewalk handoffs long before the pandemic. But now his pies anchor a low-key bar on Phinney Ridge, where 10 house topping combos make liberal use of sport peppers, roasted garlic, and candied bacon. (And a 12-inch pie really does serve four ravenous adults). Windy City just reopened for dine-in, with requirements slightly different than county mandates: Proof of vaccination for anybody 5 or older, and boosters required for eligible folks.
The cornmeal-speckled Chicago pizza remains a rarity in this town; the best ones come from a commissary kitchen in Delridge. Here, Shawn Millard hands out textbook-perfect rounds to customers lucky enough to snag one of his 40 daily pies. Toppings like meatballs and ricotta, or Italian sausage with broccoli and roasted garlic lurk beneath that placid marinara surface (gotta love a pizzeria that lists the depth, as well as the diameter of its pies online). This spring, Millard will move to a proper restaurant, and increase his pizza output exponentially.
New York and Chicago pizzas share equal billing at a neighborhood parlor by the University Bridge that feels built for Little League afterparties. The deep-dish side of the menu spans 11 combos, from a sausage-topped Ditka homage to pineapple with pepperoni. Pies arrive tableside in their round pans, with puffy cornices and a surface of chunky tomato sauce. You can also order for takeout or delivery through Caviar.
The California-based chain has a location on Ballard Avenue with the old-brick neighborhood’s standard-issue “been there forever” aesthetic, plus some covered outdoor tables to remind you, it’s definitely 2022. These are the sort of pies that put skeptics off deep-dish, given the big, bready jolt of crust around the edges. But the online ordering interface is incredibly convenient (you can even specify whether to pre-slice that pie) and bursts of fresh garlic and tangy sauce keep this pizza’s midsection on point.
The Cult of Detroit
Windy City Pie was the best deep-dish in town—until it spun off this destination for sourdough-crust pies at the entrance of the Clock-Out Lounge. It’s all that crisped cheese goodness, now with a saltier, slightly tangy crust, a style that hovers somewhere between Chicago and Detroit. The Pepperoni Paint Job, with its dual layers of meat, is a great introduction, but the experimental specials, like slices inspired by vegan reubens or quiche or everything bagels, are weirdly wonderful.
The standard pizzas at this turbo-talented neighborhood restaurant are great. But the limited-edition square pies deserve pantheon status. Co-owner Jason Stoneburner spent most of his childhood in Detroit, emerging with an appreciation for the town’s square pizza pans and chunky tomato sauce. But his chef nature surfaces, too: Sunny Hill proofs the dough a tad longer to improve its texture, and rocks toppings like fennel sausage, soppressata, and green onions. The kitchen now pulls off nearly 50 a day, but online preorders still sell out fast. Ditto the large-format version available on weekends. Take heed: Sunny Hill technically has more seating on its patio than it does indoors.
This pizzeria’s location— inside a tiny holdout cottage huddled between a pair of mid-rises—isn’t even its most notable feature. Nope, it’s Lee Kindell’s seven-by-nine-inch Detroit-style pies. Hand-mixed, high-hydration sourdough yields a crust that will blow your mind, but only in very limited quantities. The man blends his own cheese, sourcing genuine Wisconsin brick. Moto’s toppings are as improbably delightful as its location—lechon kawali with chimichurri, heaps of dungeness with lemon and dill, clam chowder or Harlem-style chopped cheese sandwich fixings. Each month’s takeout slots book up at speeds that make the hunt for a PCR test seem chill, so hover on Instagram and mark your calendars. (You can—and should—always drop by for soft serve.)
One of the phenoms of Seattle’s naturally leavened pizzeria new guard balances its seasonal toppings and signature crust with a deep-dish alter ego. The kitchen used to make limited-edition “Sunday squares” of Detroit-style pizza that prompted weekend lines. Now Cornelly puts out roughly a dozen deep-dish pies every night. They’re round and tall, filled with tang and air bubbles, plus a crunchy bottom. Enticing wisps of crisped cheese adorn the edges, rather than a full-on wall. It’s a sublimely “Seattle 2022” evolution of deep-dish. Unlike the bygone Sunday squares, you can order one online.
New Jersey by Way of Rome
Brandon Pettit may make cerebrally beautiful thin-crust pies across town at Delancey, but his Olive Way pizza bar (no minors, open ’til 2am) leans hard into the chef’s Jersey roots: Thick-crusted squares that riff on Sicily with bright sauce, first-rate toppings, and a high quotient of char. Pettit’s pizza scholarship surfaces in those caramelized crusts, but Dino’s also does some thin pies, combining tavern vibes with high-quality cheese. Delivery is available via Grubhub.
Technically the taproom’s specialty pizza squares might fail the height requirement to qualify as deep-dish. But…come at me, pizza police. Jason Stoneburner embraces the underappreciated genre of Grandma-style pizza, a more rustic take on Sicilian pies. Steel-walled pans achieve admirable crunch along the edges, and dough aims somewhere between nonna’s house and southern Italy. Squares of cheese or cupped pepperoni offer a single-serving alternative to more traditional pies on an exceedingly savvy menu of beer snacks. The covered patio is similarly impressive.
It’s hard to find a more handsome pizza hangout than an Art Deco–era building with high ceilings, marble-topped tables, and one resplendent bar. The Roman-style pizza has the same amount of appeal, properly lofted, bubbling with enough air to make a slab of bread taste weightless. On top, salame and chilies, or maybe potato with rosemary and showers of pecorino. The rossa pie challenges a fundamental worldview: great pizza might not actually need cheese? Taglio offers most varieties by the slice, and chef James Lorimer’s popup, Kilroy’s, sprinkles New York–ish pies in amid their square brethren. (Online ordering is for Kilroy’s only; use the actual phone to request Taglio pie for takeaway.)
Renee Erickson transplanted Rome’s square pizza culture into Seattle’s roundest landmark—namely a midcentury Jetsons-go-to-Italy glamour den beneath the Amazon Spheres. The menu centers on sturdy rectangular pies with restrained toppings, equal parts classic (pepperoni, margherita) and seasonal (leek with lemon, mozzarella, and black lime). Divvy up a whole pie with chic two-toned scissors, or select individual squares from the glass case by the door. Pizza anchors a full Ericksonian dinner menu of salads, small plates, and secondi. The takeout menu even includes frozen pies to heat at home.