James Beard Award-winning journalist Steve Dolinsky’s food tours show Chicago has much more to offer than deep-dish pies.
“I’m the only James Beard Award winner running pizza tours,” offers Steve Dolinsky, who has won 13 of the coveted culinary honors for his television, radio and podcast work over the past two decades. He is also the author of Pizza City, USA, a 2018 book that shares a name with his bus and walking tours that show travelers Chicago’s best pies — one slice at a time.
Dolinsky has lived in the Windy City for more than 25 years and was a longtime producer and reporter for the local ABC affiliate’s twice-a-week “Hungry Hound” segments. His pizza tours are based on an immense amount of research that found him at times dining at three pizza places a day to figure out which spots were worthy of inclusion in his book. In the end, he tried more than 185 pizzas before generating his list of 101.
Along the way, he created a somewhat scientific method that was heavily weighted toward a great crust but also gave points for the sauce, toppings and mouthfeel — a term often used by wine connoisseurs. For his second pizza book, The Ultimate Chicago Pizza Guide: A History of Squares & Slices in the Windy City (to be released on Oct. 15), he lists 104.
Dolinsky’s Pizza City, USA Tours hit a lineup of some of those selections, with stops at four spots in a span of three hours, leaving tour participants plenty of time to enjoy slices at some of Chicago’s beloved pizzerias. Along the way, Dolinsky dispels the myth that the city is solely known as a deep-dish mecca. Chicago-style pizzas include stuffed, artisan and wood-fired varieties as well.
“Even though we’re known for deep dish, almost equally popular is our tavern style,” Dolinsky adds, “a thin-crust pizza cut into squares that is unique to the Midwest.”
Tours start from various Chicago locations. For more information, visit pizzacityusa.com.