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Chicago’s Annual Pizza Summit Moves to New Venue After Drawing 3,000 People

It’s the event’s fourth year and tickets go on sale Friday

chicago pizza summit, pizza fans dancing
Fans will gather on October 6 for the fourth annual Chicago Pizza Summit.
Chicago Pizza Summit [Official Photo]
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Chicago Pizza Summit, the annual event that brings together pizzerias and fans to eat and cherish a food that brings out very spirited discussions, returns in October at a new venue. For year No. 4, event organizers are bringing their one-day festival to Theater on the Lake, where Fullerton Avenue meets Lake Michigan near Lincoln Park. Organizers will release the lineup at a later date, but expect food, clothing, and other items exclusively available when the event takes place on Sunday, October 6.

The summit tries to encourage a different philosophy. It’s free of the painful pizza arguments often shared on social media. There’s a not a focus on if tavern-style is better than deep-dish or if experts feel certain restaurants are overrated. Year one brought out musician Andrew W.K. as a keynote speaker. The rocker, known for his anthem Party Hard, stressed that love should exist for all styles of pizza, no matter where it came from.

Summit founder Anthony Spina wanted to give pizza fans a place to gather and foster a community. Yes, that sounds a bit hokey, but Spina is genuine with his intentions.

“The Chicago Pizza Summit has just been something that is just so inspirational, meaningful, and just amazing,” Spina said. “We just wanted to put something in the world and hoped people would embrace it.”

Theater on the Lake is the summit’s third venue and for the first time, it offers patrons an outdoor component where attendees can check out the city’s skyline and Lake Michigan’s waves. Some of the 10 pizza vendors from years’s past will return, though Spina isn’t divulging. The summit will feature a pop-up from the U.S. Pizza Museum, a pizza-themed art exhibit from Ryan Duggan. Attendees will also be able to buy items from a market of vendors. Spina teased that unique hot sauces, T-shirts, and coffees would be available. Taco in the Bag, the walking taco specialists, for example, served a special pizza in a bag at past events. Other past vendors included Home Run Inn, Gino’s East, Dimo’s, and Dante’s. There’s also a silent auction benefiting First Responders’ EMWQ Fund charity.

When Spina held the first summit in 2016 at Chop Shop in Wicker Park, he never imagined it growing. Last year’s summit drew about 3,000 people to Thalia Hall in Pilsen.

“Cue Jaws,” Spina said. “We needed a bigger boat.”

Now Spina doesn’t consider himself a pizza expert. Just a fan that’s put together a labor of love. No one is really an expert, perhaps other than Steve Dolinsky, Spina said. Dolinsky wrote a book called Pizza City USA featuring bios on his favorite Chicago’s pizzerias. The Hungry Hound is scheduled for an appearance at the Summit, Spina said.

Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. on Friday. The summit has two sessions — from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $45 and include all-you-can eat pizza and three beer tickets. The ticket also comes with a commemorative plate.

Theater on the Lake

2401 North Lake Shore Drive, , IL 60614 (312) 414-1313 Visit Website