Chicago-Style Deep Dish Uno's Pizza

By David J. Stewart | January 2008

       Born and raise in Chicago, I spent 37 years of my life there. Bar none, the best pizza in Chicago (in my humble opinion) is Pizzeria Uno's (or Duo's, which is their other restaurant a block away). There are now dozens of Uno's locations on the east coast and across the United States.

I also found one on the west coast when I visited San Diego, California at the Fashion Valley Mall (which is not shown on their company's website).

Here's my best attempt at recreating their delicious secret recipe. When at home my kids used to ask for this pizza often, which is what matters most to me.

Dough Recipe

  • 2 packages rapid rise dry yeast (store extra yeast in freezer)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (corn oil)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin Bertolli brand is the ONLY oil I use)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (grain bugs like cornmeal, so I store it in a gallon-sized plastic bag)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (plus an additional cup for working with the dough)

Microwave the water to warm it up. Dissolve the yeast into the water. Pour into large mixing bowl, adding the vegetable oil, olive oil, cornmeal, and the flour gradually. Mix by hand as you add the remaining flour. Knead for a couple minutes. Leave dough in covered bowl (I put a plate over the bowl) and allow to rise until doubled. Punch down and allow to rise again. Punch down a second time and you are ready to make pizza!

Coat your deep-dish pizza pans with Bertolli Extra Virgin olive oil. I used to make about 5 small pizzas, but now I just make two large pizzas since I bought the bigger pans. Place a handful of dough in the pan and push it out to the edges using your fingers. Work the dough up the sides of the deep-dish pan. Put in enough dough so that you can kneed the dough crust up the side of the pan. Make the dough about 1/8" to 3/16" thick throughout the pan. This is important because the dough rises considerably while baking. Unless you want inch thick dough, you need to work the ball of pizza dough really flat and make sure that it's only about 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick (which is very thin).

This recipe makes enough dough for exactly 2 large pizza pans.

SECRET - FREEZE THE DOUGH: I've been trying for years to learn the “secret” to Uno's pizza. There's always secrets to making any great recipe. Ok, here's the secret... freeze your dough before using it!!! I learned this by coincidence. There's just something about freezing and then thawing the dough that makes it more tasty and easier to work with... the flavor is much better! I'll never make another Uno's pizza without FROZEN dough!

MAKE SURE to cook your pizza for at least 45 minutes!!! I use the COUNT DOWN timer below... Just select “Count Down” and set it to 45:00, click “SET,” then START (and make sure that your volume is turned up so you'll hear the bell)...

The bell alarm is as loud as your computer's volume is set. If you undercook the pizza, it will be soggy from the moisture in the tomatoes. When properly cooked, it's like a pizza pie.

Coat the deep dish backing pan with extra virgin olive oil.

I wait until the pizza is out of the oven before sprinkling a mixture of grated Parmesan and Romano powdered cheese across the top. It comes as one bottle, a blend of cheeses.
 

Pizza Toppings

I make the pizza sauce topping for all pizzas at once in a big bowl (cut all the ingredient quantities in half if you're just making one pizza)...

  • Four 14.5 ounce cans of WHOLE TOMATOES (OR DICED TOMATOES) and two 14.5 ounce cans of CRUSHED TOMATOES (this is for 2 pizzas). If you can only find a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, that's fine, just use half. Each pizza uses 3 cans.

NOTE: Tomatoes have many great health benefits; including being a great dieting food, because tomatoes are CATABOLIC (meaning that they burn more calories than they contain). Pizza won't make you as fat as you think.

  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (I've tried other recipes for Uno's pizza that use way too much oregano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (if sauce seams sweet, add a little more salt; but be careful, too much salt ruins a recipe quick.  There's NO sugar in this recipe, but for some reason canned tomatoes seem to actually taste a bit sweet to me, so I gradually add a little salt until the sweetness is gone. Taste your sauce as you go and adjust accordingly. Oregano and salt are two ingredients you definitely don't want too much of. Also, there's salt already in most canned tomatoes, so go according to your taste buds. In my opinion, LESS is better if you're unsure)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic (I use a garlic press that crushes the garlic through little holes).
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan and Romano cheese (sprinkle it onto the sauce when the pizza is completely done)
  • 6 tablespoons Bertolli Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 5 pounds sliced mozzarella cheese (I use a hand-held slicer. It cuts using a wire at the end. Hint: the cheese cuts very easy if you let it sit for about an hour. The depth is adjustable.) 

DRAIN YOUR CANNED TOMATOES WELL. IF YOU DON'T, THE EXCESSIVE WATER WILL MAKE YOUR DOUGH SOGGY EVEN AFTER BAKING FOR 45 MINUTES. I POUR ALL THE BROKEN-UP WHOLE TOMATOES AND CRUSHED TOMATOES INTO A STRAINER WHICH ALLOWS ALL THE WATER TO DRAIN OUT IN THE SINK. THIS WORKS GREAT!

Be careful not to cut your hand on the open cans. It's best to pour all your tomatoes into a large bowl and then use a large strainer basket to drain off the excess water. You just need enough tomatoes and sauce to cover the pizza.

I have learned by trial and error not to use too much garlic or seasoning, and to make sure to cook my pizza for the entire 45 minutes.

Also, don't forget to wipe olive oil in the baking pan before working in the dough (this helps it brown just a bit while cooking).

Be careful not to add too much of any one ingredient. If you mess up and add too much, just open another can of tomatoes and add it to the mix to dilute it some.

Place the cheese in tile-like layers on the bottom of the pie (cut about 1/8 inch thick). Pour pizza sauce over cheese. Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top of the pie and you are ready to bake. When pizza is done, sprinkle grated Parmesan and Romano cheese across the top of the pizza.

Pizza like this wasn't meant to be eaten as the slice; but rather, with a fork and knife piece by piece. As you get down to the crust, then you can eat it like regular pizza. With all the melted cheese and tomatoes topping oozing off... Emmmmm... you just can't pick it up to eat it (unless it's cold and has sat in the refrigerator over night, which sets the crust more). This pizza is great reheated the next day!

It's important to let the pizza cook for the entire 45 minutes!
 

Baking

If you're like me, you stay busy. It's easy to burn food in a boiling pot that you forgot about. The timer below is helpful, with a nice loud bell when time's up. I use it for my pizza also, so I know when 25-minutes is up to switch oven racks, then 20 more minutes to brown the crust. If you don't want soggy crust, it's important to bake the pizza on the bottom rack for at least 20-minutes. Here's an awesome timer with a loud bell (make sure that your computer volume is turned up) so you can here it. I love this timer... so minutes on the bottom rack and then about 25 minutes on the top rack.

Again, here's the timer that I use for baking. PREHEAT your oven to 450 degrees. Press the “Countdown” arrow and set your time, then press “Set” and then “Start.” To test it, just try like 5 seconds so you can hear the bell. ...

Bake the pie in a 475°F oven (400 if a convection oven) until the top is golden and gooey. Some blackish spots burned on the cheese is normal in an electric oven and means the inside is cooked to perfection. DON'T keep opening the oven door to check it... USE A TIMER. I use the online timer down below on this page. Pizza making is an art my friend.

If you undercook your pizza or keep it toward the higher rack, your crust will not have any crunch to it at all. Although I don't like crispy pizza, on this deep dish recipe you at least want enough crispness so keep your pizza from being soggy. It's really important to follow the 40-45 minute rule. A properly cooked pizza will actually have a few blackish spots where the cheese over-browned. The crust needs to cook.

I wait until the pizza is out of the oven before sprinkling a mixture of grated Parmesan and Romano powdered cheese across the top. It comes as one bottle (a blend of cheeses).

If your pizza crust seems to be soggy (from the moisture in the tomatoes), not a problem... cook it some more.
 

Uno's Pizza Kit

There is an Uno's pizza kit available on the internet, at Amazon.com and I'm sure other websites. The Uno's kit includes an official size deep-dish pan for a medium pizza and a special sharpened, square, spatula for cutting and serving the pizza. However, the recipe that comes with the kit to make the pizza is NOT accurate. If you've ever eaten at an authentic Uno's, then you know that they use corn-meal in their crust (which the kit recipe doesn't use). I use YELLOW corn-meal, but white is ok if you don't have yellow.

Also, the kit recipe calls for Chunky pizza sauce in a can. What a joke! An authentic Uno's pizza has fresh crushed tomatoes scattered on the pizza (which you can see in the authentic photo above). By the way, 6000 supermarket sell Uno's pizza throughout the states. They don't list businesses on their website, but it doesn't hurt to look at your local large grocery store. If not, I believe they'll ship them to you. Get a deep-freezer and stock up! They're that good!