Pizza Hut says it’s “ushering in a fresh era” of menu innovation with a brand-new specialty pizza inspired by a Chicago classic. But that’s just for starters.

The Chicago Tavern-Style Pizza debuted on June 18 along with what Pizza Hut calls its “biggest toppings menu overhaul in over a decade.” According to a press release, Pizza Hut is not just the first global pizza chain to offer a tavern-style pie inspired by Chicago’s old-school pizzaiolos. The company says it’s also the first to feature chicken sausage, pesto swirl and a spicy sauce as permanent topping offerings.

And there are other new artisanal toppings on the menu, too.

It’s a big move for a fairly conservative chain like Pizza Hut and comes under the leadership of Rachel Antalek, the chain’s new chief food innovation officer. The new specialty pizza and toppings debuted on menus nationwide today.

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Tavern pizza, a thin-crust style loaded from edge to edge with toppings and cut into squares, dates back to Chicago in the 1930s, where it became a staple at taverns trying to get customers to stick around longer by plying them with thirst-inducing food. Although many pizza lovers today associate deep-dish pizza with Chicago, tavern style is still the hands-down favorite for Windy City locals (deep-dish, they’ll tell you, is for special occasions).

Pizza Hut’s take on the tavern-style pizza will be available in four recipes: Pesto Margherita, The Ultimate, Spicy Chicken Sausage and Double Pepperoni. And each one will feature at least one of the brand’s new toppings.

“These menu additions represent a bold step forward as part of our culinary mission to bring our guests modern innovation that embraces what we know our customers are loving and looking for in a pizza,” Antalek said. “Tavern is not just a pizza; it is a culinary trend that reflects the excitement of today’s pizza scene. We perfected these recipes to truly pay homage to Chicago and the 100-year-old style in a modern way while pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in a pizza with fresh new toppings and flavors.”

As part of this launch, the brand unveiled a “toppings transformation” that includes eight new toppings and sauces joining menus nationwide as permanent additions. These additions include Spicy Marinara Sauce, Pesto Sauce Swirl, Chicken Sausage, Fresh Diced Garlic, Grape Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, Fire-Roasted Peppers and Crispy Cupped Pepperoni. Customers can enjoy these additions on the four new tavern-style pies or select them as toppings on custom orders.

The four tavern-style specialty pizzas include:

Pesto Margherita Tavern Pizza: Sweet marinara, grape tomatoes, garlic and basil pesto plus a sprinkle of Parmesan-oregano seasoning

The Ultimate Tavern Pizza:  Sausage, pepperoni, fire-roasted peppers, onions, grape tomatoes and Parmesan-oregano seasoning

Spicy Chicken Sausage Tavern Pizza: Spicy marinara, chicken sausage, fire-roasted peppers, caramelized onions and Parmesan-oregano seasoning

Double Pepperoni Tavern Pizza: Sweet marinara, classic and crispy cupped pepperoni and Parmesan-oregano seasoning

The four new Chicago Tavern-Style Pizza recipes, plus a create-your-own, one-topping tavern-style pie, will start at $12 for a large size. 

Food & Ingredients