Chicago's Italian sausage is well known for it's high fennel content. The only sausage maker that I know of in Chicago that does not use a lot of fennel is Bobaks.
Yes and No on the high fennel content. I've lived and eaten great thin and thick crust pizzas in the Chicago area for many decades (north, south, east and west) and experienced so-called Italian sausage with and without fennel, with and without anise seeds, with and without garlic, and with and without alot of other spices. In the "good ole days," the mom and pop pizza places made their own sausage or had it specially sourced and each were fairly different (but great). Now in most cases its bought through normal food purveyors and is often nothing special
Is Bobak's still in business? I swear that their garlic sausage was in the past used on alot of Chicago area pizzas. Uno's/Due's, Malnati's, and many others reportedly sourced their restaurant's sausage from either Anichini Brothers (http://www.anichinibrothers.com/Products.html
) or Peoria Packing (http://www.peoriapacking.com/
). And I remember many a Chicago thin mom and pop pizzeria using a combination Italian/Lithuanian sausage on their pizzas. And that was great, too.
What area of Florida are you near, Randy? My wife and I reside on the Gulf Coast side and frequent the Aurelio's in Naples, FL and the newer Aurelio's in Ft. Myers, FL. Both are great but are different. The one in Naples is an older "grandfathered" pizzeria that does their own thing without much restrictions and makes their pizzas the "old-fashioned" way that Joe Aurelio would have done 30 or 40 years ago. The Ft. Myers location is a "corporate store" that must do things according to corporate policy, which includes using a "creeping" oven with the use of pans. Original Aurelio's NEVER used cutter pans nor docked their crusts. But I can't deny that the Ft. Myers location makes an outstanding pizza, too.
Another great Chicago thin crust pizza is Paul's Chicago Pizza in Clearwater, Fl (http://paulschicagopizza.com/
). Of the many guests that I've taken there, they take one bite of the pizza and remark " . . . wow, that sure tastes like great Chicago pizza." Will have to try your crust recipe some day as Aurelio's crust of 35 years ago is very different from today's crust (both good but a little different). Paul's pizza pictured below.