Photo by Katherine Bish

Pi Pizzeria

I want to take a moment to remember Gringo, the Mexican restaurant Pi Pizzeria founders Chris Sommers and Frank Uible opened in 2013. I didn’t like Gringo when I reviewed it that year, but when I returned in 2015, I found a dramatically improved restaurant. Cary McDowell, the corporate executive chef for both Pi and Gringo, had located the soul inside the concept, and I was strongly considering including Gringo on this list when it closed in February. The changes that Sommers and McDowell undertook testified to their commitment to a quality dining experience — a commitment you can still witness at Pi, which delivers consistently excellent pizza (deep-dish and thin-crust) and hospitality across five distinct locations. Eight years after the hubbub of its opening and presidential endorsement, it remains an essential restaurant.

Opened: 2008

Must order: South Side Classico (small $18.95, large $22.95)