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Although Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, tourists wouldn't know that the locals more often eat a thinner-crust, tavern-style pie topped with homemade Italian sausage and cut into squares, not slices unless they went on a pizza tour.
Chicago is one of a handful of cities, like Boston, Milwaukee and New York, with companies that offer tours of the pizza scene. Chicago Pizza Tours owner Jonathan Porter takes his customers on a bus ride that includes four stops over 3 1/2 hours to sample deep-dish, the tavern-style popular in Chicago neighborhoods and other eclectic pizza variations.
"It's just a different way to see the city," Porter said. "Eat your way through the city. It was always designed to get people off the beaten path."
Bonnie Burchett, 64, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was on a recent visit with her husband when they took the pizza tour.
"I like that sausage," she said after taking a bite at Pizano's, a downtown Chicago pizzeria with a buttery crusted deep-dish pizza and tavern-style that was the first stop on the tour.
Elizabeth Goodwin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, was with her husband too. They were able to try Pizano's, thin crust at Coalfire west of downtown, tavern-style with sauerkraut at Flo and Santos on the city's South Side, and Pequod's deep-dish on the North Side.
"I've always wanted to try Chicago deep-dish pizza, it's famous," Goodwin said. The couple took the tour, she said, because "otherwise we wouldn't know where to go."
The tour guide offers fun statistics as the bus travels from pizzeria to pizzeria. There are 2,200 pizza restaurants in Chicago. Thin crust outsells deep-dish in Chicago even though deep-dish was invented in Chicago in the 1940s.
Critical thinking challenge: Why is the tour conducted on a bus?