Credit: Tracy J. Lee

Among the contenders for the title “Best pizza” this year, you might have been surprised to see the name of Reader staff writer Leor Galil. How does a music writer become a pizza, you ask? Like many major happenings these days, the story starts with Twitter: while promoting Best of Chicago 2016, Leor tweeted that voters could write in any candidates they pleased—for example, they could nominate him for best pizza. The response was so great that for BOC 2017 he launched a loose campaign for the title. Leor now claims it was a joke, but like He-Who-Is-Facing-Impeachment, the biggest Twitter joke of all time, these things sometimes have a way of impacting reality. Leor wound up ranked third-best pizza by our readers in 2017, and his metamorphosis from man to Italian classic was complete. The evidence speaks for itself: First, there’s his popularity—everyone likes pizza, and everyone likes Leor. Second, there’s his authenticity, which is crucial for both pizza recipes and underground music writing. And, of course, there are Leor’s ­copious layers of cheese. “I’m supercheesy,” he admits.

Pizza has a certain cultural resonance in Chicago, and being recognized among the city’s best comes with a sense of pride and responsibility. Leor says he’ll go to bat against outsiders who argue Chicago pizza isn’t real pizza, and though he slightly prefers tavern style to deep-dish, he is nothing if not diplomatic: “I have room in my stomach for both,” he says.

Back in the best-pizza race this year, Leor had only positive things to say about the competition. His favorite place to share a pie is Marie’s Pizza & Liquors in Albany Park: “It’s totally charming, and I would go there weekly if I could.” His neighborhood go-to is Dante’s Pizza at any of its three locations. (“The crust is great. Dante’s rules.”) You could say Leor is an “All Star” of Chicago pizza—or, as Smash Mouth once described him, an #EveryDayStar of Chicago pizza. Regardless, Leor’s journey offers a wealth of inspiration: “If I can become the third runner-up for ‘Best pizza,’ anyone else can become literally anything,” Leor says. “I just want people to be silly if they feel like it. There’s not enough room for being silly in our lives, and we should definitely encourage that.”