Chicago-style pizza is easy to recognize with its deep pie crust. As for the ingredients, you'll often find meats like pepperoni or sausage, vegetables like bell peppers, onions and mushrooms, a chunky tomato sauce, and a generous portion of ooey-gooey cheese, typically Mozzarella and maybe Parmesan.

Belinda Hankins Miller [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In Japan, however, what goes by the name シカゴピザ shikago piza isn't always Chicago-style pizza. For the last five years or so, a new pizza-esque concoction has been trending in Japan featuring a deep pie crust and usually, plenty of cheese. Incidentally, fondue has also been trending, so it's clear that cheese is having its moment in Japan as of late. However, aside from the deep pie crust, that's where the similarity between Chicago-style pizza and shikago piza ends. Wild colors, unusual flavors, even dessert pizzas, everything is fair game.

On September 26th, 2022, the Gosso restaurant group revealed their lineup of shikago piza for the upcoming Halloween season. For those who have only eaten Chicago-style pizzas from restaurants like Unos or Giordanos, let's just say that their offerings might be stunning in more ways than one.

To begin with, here's a dessert pizza called Sweet Potato Chicago Pizza:

Clearly a dessert pizza, this dish features the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes, enhanced with a caramelized coating, along with the sweet and salty taste of "custard cheese." The addition of "honey butter" and vanilla ice cream make this a memorable and tasty dessert. Decorated with a jack-o'-lantern pick to put you in the right mood. If you can get over your initial shock at believing they call this Chicago pizza, you might actually enjoy it.

The ハロウィン限定!さつまいもシカゴピザ Halloween-limited Sweet Potato Chicago Pizza costs 1,759 JPY (tax included) and is available throughout October at cheese specialty restaurant ガーデンファーム Garden Farm and Raclette cheese restaurant テラス Terrace.

There was another even bigger shock waiting for us as we read through the press release. Here is the Mentaiko Pasta Chicago Pizza:

You read that correctly. This is a pasta pizza. Apparently, this, too, can qualify as pizza, or in this case, shikago piza. The star ingredient, mentaiko, which is brined and seasoned cod roe with a slight spicy flavor, is blended with cream sauce, cooked with pasta and served in a "pizza" crust. If you're willing to accept a completely different notion of pizza, then maybe you're ready to try it. It actually looks tasty!

However, it seems that the biggest shock was saved for last. A dessert pizza with no crust, deep or otherwise, and served in a plate. With that, they have done away with the most iconic element tethering their creation to its Windy City namesake. Here is the Halloween Mont Blanc Chicago Pizza:

"It looks like a monster!" says the press release. We have to agree...

Rich and creamy chestnut cream is extracted in front of you at your table, creating a gorgeous ball on top of a "pizza" base of melted custard cheese. As you taste each bite, your mouth will be filled with the flavors of autumn. Perhaps you'll even attain an erstwhile sense of enlightenment as you realize that anything can be a Chicago pizza when you set your mind to it.

Ultimately, as long as there is cheese, they can call it a pizza. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. As an official member of the Japan Cheese Fondue Association, the Gosso group has been one of the leading forces in the Japanese shikago piza trend, so it makes sense that they would focus on cheese above all.

Our advice: Just think of it as fondue.

You can also enjoy their three signature shikago piza offerings, Chicago Pizza PINK, blending a natural coloring agent extracted from beet juice, the Chicago Pizza BLACK made with squid ink and Chicago Pizza WHITE. All pizzas feature premium Mozzarella cheese sourced from Hokkaido, cheese fondue sauce and meat sauce and cost 1,759 JPY (tax included).

To find out which restaurants you can visit to try them, see the press release here.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.