The Best Pizza in the Midwest

The wheel, the printing press, and the computer chip are usually considered among the most important inventions in human history. But, for my money, pizza is the best thing humans have come up with. It’s basically the ideal food. Melty cheese, thick tomato sauce, and tasty toppings on a doughy crust? That’s perfection.

Of course, there’s more than one way to do a pizza. Everywhere from New York and Detroit to Chicago and New Haven has put its own spin on the pizza pie. But where are the top places to find Detroit-style, deep dish and thin crust? Keep reading for a rundown of the best pizza in the Midwest.

New York-Style Pizza

Perhaps the most traditional or familiar style of pizza is what we’ll call New York style. Slightly greasy, cheesy, thin enough to fold up and eat, but not so thin that the crust is crispy. Likely where the term “slice of heaven” comes from.

Black Sheep Pizza in Minneapolis is highly acclaimed for its New York-style pizzas, and for good reason. They use coal-fired pizza ovens to get the crust just right, and the results are indisputable. Trying to take just one bite is virtually impossible. Black Sheep has some unique topping combinations as well, including a pizza featuring Persian beef, harissa, and feta cheese.

Wig & Pen Pizza has three locations in Iowa City and outside Des Moines. Their pizza has won plaudits from reviewers at Zagat, Thrillist, the Iowa City Press-Citizen, and the Des Moines Register. Wig & Pen serves up a delightfully cheesy deep dish and a thick-crusted Detroit-style offering. But for our money, their Flying Tomato tops them all. Is it traditional New York style? No. Is it delicious? Absolutely.

Pizza is having a moment in Hot Springs, Arkansas right now. Tourists are skipping the thermal waters and going straight to Deluca’s. And for good reason. Their brick oven produces some of the pizza you can find anywhere. Just make sure you put in an order before you go; Deluca’s makes their dough fresh every morning, and when they run out, that’s it for the day.

Deep Dish Pizza

Also known as Chicago-style pizza, deep dish pizza has almost as much in common with a casserole or pot pie as it does with thin crust. With inverted layers of cheese, fillings, and then sauce, it’s basically a backward pizza. This is not to disparage deep dish — when done right, it can be a showstopper.

These days, you don’t have to be in Chicago to sample deep dish pizza. Here are a few places where you can sample delicious deep dish across the Midwest. Be forewarned — once you’ve had it, you might find that other pizza no longer measures up.

Frankie’s Pizza in Maple Grove, MN, prides itself as one of the best places for deep dish pizza outside of Chicago. They’ve got thin crust and pan pizza options as well, but Frankie’s specializes in deep dish. The spicy giardineria option, which includes sausage, pepperoni, and giardineria peppers, is deep dish at its finest.

This may come as a surprise, but you can’t always trust advertising. Still, when Pizzeria Davlo says they serve “the best pizza in Omaha,” you should probably listen. This family-run joint serves up deep dish with a wide, unique variety of fillings. Never thought of putting sauerkraut in a pizza? Neither did I, but that’s a prime ingredient in Davolo’s Der Bamberg pie.

Deep dish has also made its way to the heart of Texas. Taste of Chicago, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has been attracting pizza aficionados for over a decade. Opened by former Chicago residents, this spot’s pizza oozes delicious cheese the way only proper deep dish can.

Detroit-Style Pizza

I must confess that, as a child, I had a rule that square pizza wasn’t “real” pizza. If it wasn’t round, I didn’t want any part of it. I have Detroit-style pizza to thank for showing me the error of my ways. Traditionally made in rectangular steel trays made for use in auto factories, this pizza features crisp edges and Sicilian-style dough.

Much like deep dish, this style of pizza was too good to be trapped in just one location for long. Some of the best pizza in the Midwest is now being made in the traditional Detroit style.

The state of Wisconsin has its own connection to Detroit-style pizza, as it’s often made with Wisconsin brick cheese. So it’s no surprise that Jet’s Pizza has nine locations across the state. This chain started in Detroit and makes one of the best pepperoni pizzas around. You can even order flavored crust for a little extra kick (try the Turbo style!). Jet’s also has a number of locations in Minnesota.

If you’re looking for something with more local flavor, Classic Slice in Milwaukee has a Detroit-style pizza that customers rave about. It’s available in limited quantities and only comes in two styles (cheese or pepperoni), but if you can get your hands on it, you won’t be disappointed.

Providence Pizzeria, which has several locations in the Kansas City area and an outpost in Oklahoma City, doesn’t limit itself to one style of pizza. You’ll find New York, Sicilian, and Providence-inspired pizza on their menus (which vary by location). But their Motor City Detroit-style offering is the star of the show.

Thin Crust and More

There are so many regional styles of pizza that it’s impossible for each to have its own section. But here are a few more of the best pizza places in the Midwest that don’t quite fit into the above categories.

Sunny’s Pizzeria in Sioux Falls is widely acclaimed as some of the best pizza in South Dakota. The crust is a bit too thin and crispy to qualify as a New York pizza, but that doesn’t make it less delicious. Owned by a family local to Sioux Falls, this neighborhood spot is well worth seeking out.

If you’re looking for something a bit more Neapolitan, check out Fireflour in downtown Bismark. This North Dakota destination serves up gourmet pies with ingredients traditional to the Naples region. Fireflour’s offerings include a spicy red pizza that features a delicious amatriciana sauce that rivals anything you could find in the old country.

Finally, you can’t have a true rundown of the best pizza in the Midwest without mentioning Quad City style. Made with malty crust and featuring toppings hidden underneath mounds of mozzarella, QC pizza is truly unique. If you’ve never sampled, try Uncle Bill’s in Davenport, IA, for a taste of something new.

I Feel Like Pizza Tonight

If you’ve made it this far without ordering a pizza for delivery, congratulations. You’ve got more self-control than I do, dear reader, because I’ve got a pizza coming soon.

You know where to find the best pizza in the Midwest. Now, as my Italian grandmother would say, “Mangia!”


  • David Francis

    Dave is a published author who has written about everything from travel to finance to pop culture trends. He also has years of experience in the nonprofit industry, authoring grant proposals, training manuals, and white papers. He’s had the privilege of calling multiple Midwestern states home.

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