Several years ago, then- Daily Show host Jon Stewart got the attention of everyone in northwest Illinois by declaring that Chicago-style pizza is not pizza. “When I look at your deep-dish fucking pizza, I don't know whether to eat it or throw a coin in it and make a wish," he said. "And if I made a wish, it would be that I'd wish for some real fucking pizza."
In just over three minutes, Stewart called deep-dish pizza everything from “an above-ground marinara swimming pool for rats” to “a cornbread biscuit which you’ve melted cheese on” to simply “a fucking casserole.”
Whether or not vintage Daily Show segments are a thing in Tokyo, it seems like a number of restaurants agree with Stewart’s assessment that Chicago pizza isn’t real pizza. They’re not tossing coins toward each thicc slice—but they are selling it as fondue.
According to Chicago magazine, at least a half-dozen restaurants in Tokyo now offer a gooey, cheesy dish they call シカゴピザ, which translates to “Chicago pizza” or “Shikago Pizza.” (Note to Ariana Grande: This would not make a good hand tattoo.) ‘Pizza’ is probably a stretch for this dish—it doesn’t involve toppings or red sauce—but it does involve a soft deep-dish crust filled with melted cheese. The result bears more resemblance to a baked Brie than a pie from Pequod's.
Some restaurants serve it with a side of vegetables or sausages for dipping, while others assume that diners will scoop up the cheese using pieces of the crust itself.
“I think anyone from Chicago could see in a photo the difference between the real thing and the one made for being photographed, not necessarily for eating for its flavor,” Yukari Sakamoto, the author of Food Sake Tokyo, told the mag. “Chicago pizza is just one of many Insta-bae food trends.”
There are places in Tokyo that serve more traditional, if less Instagram-worthy, versions of Chicago pizza. The three DevilCraft locations all have deep-dish ‘za on their menus, and they may be the only places in the city where you can order a cheese-on-the-bottom, triple sausage-on-top pizza called the Abe Froman.
Weirdly, the chain called Chicago Pizza doesn’t serve anything that even remotely resembles the city’s signature pie—but it does have an “Autumn Special” topped with roasted duck, herb-roasted chicken, and truffle cream sauce.
So what are you wishing for now, Jon?