Chicago-style deep dish pizza is having a Minneapolis moment, with the opening of Giordano’s getting diners excited enough to wait over an hour for a table. But a homegrown deep dish has been around (off and on) for five years, and it easily gives the Chicago upstart a run for its money.
Rich Moore first started serving deep dish in 2010 at DiNoko's, his pizza place in the Nokomis neighborhood. To answer the obvious question, no, he’s not from Chicago; he grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota. Over his many years in the bar and restaurant game, he perfected his deep dish recipe. It was slow going at first. “We only served two or three a month,” he says. But over the years, he developed a loyal following of deep dish devotees.
In 2014, Moore closed the Nokomis location and, along with a new partner, reopened DiNoko’s in downtown Minneapolis, near the Twins’ stadium. When that arrangement didn’t pan out, he walked away and for almost a year, there was no DiNoko’s.
“I thought about not reopening,” he says. But the restaurant business is in his blood, so Moore found a spot in south Minneapolis. As it turned out, the space needed more work than anticipated, and the timetable didn’t look promising (indeed, construction is still ongoing), so he looked for a location where he could do takeout and delivery in the meantime. He found it in a nondescript row of takeout places next to a gas station at the corner of 48th and Nicollet and has been making pizzas there for almost two months.
When you order your pizza, chances are you’ll talk to either Moore or his wife. If you order more than once, they’ll likely remember you; they’re on a first name basis with their regular customers. Because deep dish pizza takes longer to bake than regular thin crust, plan ahead; you’ll need to allow an hour or so before pick up or delivery.
When the delivery guy (Moore’s brother-in-law; it turns out this really is a family affair) handed over my small, 10-inch deep dish pizza, it came with a warning: “Be careful, it’s heavy.” Boy, howdy, is it ever. The heft is unexpected when you’re accustomed to taking possession of a typical thin crust pizza delivery. This monster weighed in at almost six pounds. Yes, I put it on my scale.
This is a pizza you need to share, both because you want your friends to experience this bundle of joy, but also because you won’t be able to eat more than one piece of this hefty delight.
If you’ve never had Chicago-style deep dish, it’s put together differently than pizzas you’re used to. The crust is a sturdy affair, about two inches tall, in charge of keeping the fillings contained. Next comes the cheese, followed by the other toppings, with the sauce going on last. Moore makes his dough and sauce from scratch, using recipes he’s perfected over the years.
The crust is substantial, but still tender, with a nice chew to it. There is enough mozzarella in one pizza to supply you with your calcium requirements for a week, and it is great cheese, from the family-owned Burnett Dairy in Alpha, Wisconsin. Next, pick your toppings from the vast selection on DiNoko’s website. We went with the classic pepperoni, onions, and mushrooms.
The toppings are generous. “I get a kick out of pizza places that give you six pepperoni slices and a couple of mushrooms,” says Moore. That would never happen on his watch. The sauce is the pizza’s crowning glory. As is traditional with Chicago-style deep dish, the sauce is chunky, and DiNoko’s version has a bit of zip to it and plenty of oregano. When you bite into a forkful (yes, you’ll need a knife and fork for this), and all the flavors come together with the stringy, wonderfully oozy cheese, you finally get what all the fuss is about, and understand why Moore received 400 emails from fans during his yearlong hiatus, imploring him to reopen.
If you don’t live in the Kingfield neighborhood, DiNoko’s delivery range is far and wide, covering downtown, South Minneapolis, Bryn Mawr, and north Richfield. But the boundaries are not set in stone, so if you’re in the middle of a deep dish withdrawal, give them a call to see if they can get a pizza to you.
4747 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
Monday - Saturday 4 pm. - 9 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m. - 8 p.m.