It's fun when you run across a "I did not know that moment." Especially when that moment is something that originated from East Texas, specifically Wills Point, Texas. This particular tidbit of East Texas history involves a food created in the midwestern city of Chicago and has become synonymous with that city throughout the world, deep dish pizza.

Pizza in East Texas

There are not many in East Texas that would turn down a slice of pizza. It can actually result in a pretty heated debate into who has the best pizza in your area. For me, if I'm getting pizza from a major chain, it's Papa Johns. If I'm getting from a locally owned pizza joint, it's either Topps Pizza in Tyler or Doc's Pizza in Lindale. But really, I don't care where the pizza comes from. I love pizza and I love how each restaurant has their own touches to make their flavor unique.

Chicago Style Pizza

One type of pizza, though, that's been hard to master in East Texas is the Chicago style deep dish pizza. One of my former co-workers is a Chicago native and a couple of times when he'd go home to visit family, he would bring back a deep dish pizza. Let me tell you, it was delicious. I would make a trip to Chicago just for that.

So what if I told you that Chicago style deep dish pizza actually has it's roots in East Texas?


The Wills Point Native Responsible for the World Famous Pizza

That answer would be, "Yes way." Chicago style deep dish pizza came from the mind of Wills Point native Issac "Ike" Sewell. Ike was born in 1903 in Wills Point and went to college at U.T. Austin where he received All-America honors as a football player for the Longhorns. After college, he worked for American Airlines then as a liquor salesman after prohibition.

This is how Ike ended up in Chicago. He ran into Ric Riccardo owner of Riccardo's. The two started talking about opening a restaurant together. Ike wanted a Mexican restaurant but that type of food made Riccardo sick so they discussed pizza.

Ike is from Texas so it Had to Be Big

Ike liked pizza, but in good ole Texas fashion, it had to be big and bold. He and Riccardo started experimenting with different recipes until they came up with the thick crust for their pizza. So in 1943, the first Pizzeria Uno was opened and still exists at the corner of East Ohio Street and North Wabash Avenue. Since that day, Chicago is known as the originator of the deep dish pizza.

His Restaurant Even has a Historical Marker

phantomgourmet via YouTube
phantomgourmet via YouTube

So if your travels take you to Chicago at any time, be sure to stop by Pizzeria Uno and try the invention of a native East Texan.

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