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As a former Chicagoan, I am very picky about my pizza.

While I have yet to find any place that serves good deep-dish pizza similar to my favorite in Chicago, Lou Malnati’s, thankfully the restaurant ships frozen pizzas which are almost as good as the restaurant version. I am beginning to develop an appreciation for New York-style pizza, although I still think if you can fold it, it should be classified as a taco. There are also places down here that dish up a good Neapolitan style, a fairly good Detroit style, and a reasonably good facsimile of a Chicago stuffed pizza (which is very different from deep dish.) Here are a few of my favorites. 

By the way, I do not, as a rule, include franchises or chains when I am comparing restaurants. If you think Domino’s or Papa John’s make edible pizzas not only are your tastebuds out of whack but so are your politics (do a Google search of the politicians each business supports).

Bona Italian 

2468 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors 


To be honest, I didn’t care too much for Bona’s pizza. It was beautifully made, just not to my taste. Usually, I get the excellent chicken piccata. But one day, on a whim, I asked for the pizza to be cooked well done and added extra cheese. It tasted just like the thin pizzas of my youth. Now, if I could get them to do a square cut, it would be perfect.

Heritage Pizza 

903 NE 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale 


Even if the pizza wasn’t as good as it is, folks would keep coming back for the service. It’s not unusual to have six different employees check to make certain everything is to your liking. It’s that kind of attention to detail that rules at Heritage. The pizza is Neapolitan style, but with some beautifully curated toppings. I want to try the charred onion puree, fontina, radicchio, caramelized onions, and prosciutto combo next time. The pizzas are pricey, ranging upwards to $26 for a 12-incher. The small dining room is loud and not conducive to conversation, so picking up a pie and taking it home is your best bet.

Patio Bar & Pizza 

901 Progresso Dr., Fort Lauderdale 


Patio Bar & Pizza offers woodfired brick oven pizzas in the Neapolitan style. While it is not my preferred style of pizza, it is one of my preferred locations for two reasons. The restaurant encourages customers to customize their pie, making it cheesy, spicy, or extra-crispy. Although there is inside dining, we always opt for the spacious flagstone patio which offers a distinctly urban feel, from the nearby traffic, trains, and stunning downtown views. There is an excellent collection of cocktails, beers, and other drinks. It draws a late-night crowd that is there as much for the drinks as the food. Service is efficient if not the friendliest, but most of the servers are so attractive, I’m willing to overlook that.

Blue Steel Pizza Company 

2460 E. Commercial, Fort Lauderdale 


Detroit-style pizza looks like Chicago-style deep-dish, but the similarities end there. The dough is similar to a focaccia, light and fluffy, and fills most of the pan. The toppings lay on top of the dough and a blanketed by grated cheese, which also oozes down the side crust and gives a wonderful, caramelized edge to the ‘za. Blue Steel has taken over the space formerly occupied by Gatsby’s. 

Il Baretto’s

220 S. University Dr., Plantation 


I teased about this place a few weeks ago. The pizza maker here is a Chicago ex-pat who is dishing up authentic stuffed pizza. For those not in the know, a stuffed pizza is a deep-dish pie, filled with cheese and toppings, topped with another thin crust, which is then topped with cheese and sauce (and sometimes toppings). One slice is usually enough for a meal and is eaten with a knife and fork. Although other places make similar pies, il Baretto is the only one I would say comes closest to authentic Chicago-style stuffed pizza. 

What about you? What is your favorite pizza place? Drop me an email and let me know.

Rick Karlin is SFGN's food editor. Visit to read his previous reviews. Have a culinary tip to share? Email Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..