On the Grill: Deep-Dish Pizza (VIDEO)


Very few foods evoke an emotional response with me as passionate as pizza does.  I have been fortunate to have tasted pies from pizzerias that seem to be permanently engraved in the nation’s Top 10 list and I often long to repeat that experience.

For me, the pizza Napolitano is the benchmark of perfection.  It has a thin crust that is unusually strong, holding toppings surprisingly well.  The outermost edge of the crust is a sturdy handle, about an inch tall, that is crunchy, toothy on the exterior and pillowy soft on the inside.

I once knew a guy from Doylestown, PA, who claimed he could tell you how good a Philly cheese steak was just from looking at the outside of the restaurant.  I am not that good with pizza places, but I am close.  So having had my pizza heritage burned on the roof of my mouth in the style of pizza Napolitano, the Chicago deep-dish pizza is something I have mostly only admired from a distance.  Many would argue that it is about as authentic as a ten-dollar Rolex, but I do think it has its place in the pizza hierarchy.

On the Grill with Deep Dish Pizza

My deep-dish delight went onto a 400F grill that had multiple layers of heat barrier.

Making deep-dish pizza was an impulse for me.  Feeling bullish, I knew I could make the Chicago style deep-dish on the grill and invested about five hours in its reenactment.  My reward was a buttery tasting base camp of a crust that was rich with flavor but had more of a softer focaccia feel on the incisors than its svelte Neapolitan neighbor.  That may be because I followed King Arthurs Flour’s focaccia recipe but I will just chalk it up as a mystery of baking.

The toppings, incredibly meat-centric, had multiple layers of flavor that were uncovered at different depths much like an eastern Montana dinosaur dig.  At times, the sausage had a solo speaking role while other bites blended the pepperoni, cheese, and San Marzano tomatoes in a harmonic crescendo.

Pizza Napolitano can cook sometimes in extremely hot and often coal or wood fired ovens, which may be similar to that wood pellet pizza oven, at temperatures of over 800F, often cooking in as quick as two or three minutes.  My deep-dish delight went onto a 400F grill that had multiple layers of heat barrier – a pizza stone and two fire bricks – separating it from the heat of the hardwood lump charcoal and raising it close to the top of the grill.  My deep-dish pizza on the grill took an hour to cook and there was no way I could peek at the bottom of the crust to determine if it was done to my liking.  Fortunately, it was.

Making a comparison between a pizza Napolitano and a deep-dish pizza is not easy, like making a comparison between Ford and Chevy.  It is more like making a comparison between Ford and Froot Loops.  All you can really say is that they come in different colors and shapes.  I encourage you to try both varieties and decide for yourself.


Paul Sidoriak, grill masterPaul moved to Montana in 1996 with about a dozen friends from Lyndon State College in Vermont. He is still reluctantly paying his student loans and has carved out a career working as a supplier representative for various food and beverage products. Paul enjoys grilling after a day on the water or an afternoon in the garden where he has been known to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers out of spite. Often cooking for extended family and friends, he takes a whimsical approach to cooking simple, seasonal dishes, while not taking it too seriously.


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