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Giordano’s Famous Chicago Pizza

November 11, 2014

Alright, so everyone knows that Chicago is known for several unique food specialties, the most well-known of those being the famous Chicago deep-dish pizza.  So, of course, there was no way my husband and I could go all the way to Chicago without having a taste of this famous Chicago pizza.  The better question actually was, how much pizza did we want and how much time did we have to enjoy it?  From what I learned from a co-worker who is from the Chicago suburbs, there are really the ” Big 4″ when it comes to Chicago deep dish pizza.  My husband and I knew we didn’t actually want pizza for every single meal in Chicago as we wanted to try out some other food, so that eliminated the possibility of being able to try all 4 of the famous Chicago pizza places.  After taking a look at our schedule, factoring in where our hotel was located, and trying to calculate how we could get to other places using public transportation, we decided we’d give 2 of the Big 4 a try, that should give us a decent sample size of Chicago deep-dish pizza.  So, on the night we arrived in Chicago, we decided to check out our first pizza joint, conveniently located 2 blocks down the street from our hotel.

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When we walked up to Giordano’s Famous Chicago Pizza, we could already see a crowd milling about the front entrance of the restaurant.  It was early on a Friday evening, but it was still Friday evening and we were prepared to wait for our food.  Good thing we weren’t starving.  It took 5 minutes or more just to get up to the front counter to put our name down for a table.  It was then that something happened that I’d never heard of before, ever.  Once we gave the hostess our name, she told us that it would be about a 45 minute wait for a table.  We were ok with that.  Then she told us to step off to the side and place our order.  I guess I wasn’t paying attention when she talked to the people in line in front of us because I couldn’t comprehend what she was saying.  She explained that since each deep-dish pizza is made to order, to make the whole process more efficient and so that you don’t spend too much time waiting for your pizza once you’ve sat down, that you should pre-order your pizza so that they can make it for you ahead of time.  Then, once you sit down, the pizza you ordered is thrown into the pizza oven and cooked to order.  It actually seemed like quite the ingenious idea. So, we were given a menu, and we stepped off to the side where we waited in another line to step up to some registers where pizza pre-orders were being taken. After deciding on a pizza, we gave our order to the lady behind the counter and were given a receipt with our name on it. This is the receipt you present to your server when you sit down so that the kitchen can find your pizza and throw it in the pizza oven.

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While waiting to pre-order our pizza, I got a chance to check out the interior design of the restaurant. I really liked the look, the feel, the atmosphere of Giordano’s.  It really reminded me of an old-school pizza joint, but on a much larger scale.  There was beautiful lighting fixtures, wood flooring, an open kitchen near the front where you could watch them make your pizza and put it into their pizza oven, and the walls were lined with old time sports memorabilia items.

After waiting about 45 minutes for a table, we were finally called and seated near the back of the restaurant.  As soon as the waiter came up to our table he asked us for our receipt from our pre-ordered pizza so that he could have the cooks put the pizza in the oven.  After all, this is deep dish pizza, it does take longer for the pizza to cook and come out of the oven.091

While we waited for our pizza, we ordered an appetizer of cheesy garlic bread.  It was made with toasted ciabatta bread topped with a melted mix of three cheeses and herbs and served alongside a side of marinara sauce.  I definitely loved this appetizer.  First off, it was probably the cheesiest cheesy bread I’ve had.  It was melting and oozing cheese off of every bite.  But the cheese didn’t weigh down the garlic bread as it was still crisp and crunchy.  Sometimes, when there’s too many toppings the bread ends up soggy in the middle and either isn’t cooked all the way through or overly cooked because it took forever for the cheese to melt.  In this case, they made their cheesy bread the right way and the bread was cooked perfectly while the cheese was all melted.  You could definitely taste the combination of the 3 cheeses and the herbs, but the flavor of the garlic still came through on the ciabatta bread.  I also thought that the semi-chunky marinara sauce was terrific.  The perfect tangy bite to compliment the cheesy garlic bread.  The only problem with having gotten cheesy garlic bread as an appetizer is that it’s bread, and couple that with the pizza dough, that’s a lot of carbs to be eating.

After about a 15-20 minute wait at our table our deep dish pizza was finally delivered to the table.  Mind you, you are warned in advance that it does take about 45 minutes to create your pizza masterpiece.  Hence, part of why pre-ordering your pizza is important.  Giordano’s is famous for their stuffed pizza pie, as they call it.  The recipe for this stuffed pizza comes from a 200-year-old family recipe from the Giordano family from a Northern Italian town near Torino.  Legend has it that Mama Girodano created this recipe which calls for a double pizza crust with cheese stuffed in between.  Mama Giordano was known all over this small town as being an exquisite cook and she would make this special pizza for Easter, so the locals called this pizza the “Italian Easter pie”.  In the 1970s, Italian immigrant brothers, and original owners of Girodano’s brought their family restaurant to Chicago and opened up the first Giordano’s in Chicago.  Today, more than 40 years later, people still flock to Giordano’s for their stuffed pizza pie or their “Italian Easter pie” that can be found on the menu every day of the year.

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My husband and I decided to order a Chicago favorite of deep dish pizza with pepperoni and sausage.  Mind you, I’m not a sausage fan at all, but I figure, when in Chicago, you have to enjoy it the Chicago way and that’s with meat and more meat.  We ordered a medium pizza and this 8-slice monstrosity was brought to our table.  The waiter starts out by scooping out one slice of pizza for each person at the table.  You can already start to see that there’s a layer of cheese that’s oozing and melting out between the layers of crust on the pizza.  While the pizza slices may not look huge, because they are deep dish, they are thick and way more filling than you’d ever imagine.  As advertised, there are 2 layers of crust with a ton of cheese stuffed in between.  Then there’s a layer of sauce, toppings and then the whole thing is covered by another layer of sauce.  So when you look at the pizza, you can’t really see the pepperoni or the sausage because they are basically covered up by the last layer of sauce.  There’s a reason that this is called a stuffed pizza pie.  You actually do feel like you’re eating a pie with all of the layers of flavors and ingredients.  In the end, my husband and I ended up eating 2 slices each and taking 2 slices of pizza to go as leftovers for my parents to enjoy.

The verdict on our first taste of deep dish pizza?  It was ok.  As I said, it was way more filling than I had anticipated it to be.  It’s different from any other type of pizza I’ve ever had.  It’s hard to even call this pizza because I guess I define pizza as more a thin-crust, crispy type of pizza, kind of like a New York style pizza.  But then again, I guess that’s where the age-old adage of Chicago vs. New York pizza comes from.  In the case of Giordano’s while I liked the crispy, buttery flavor of the crust, and I liked the cheese and the red sauce was amazing and the toppings were also good, the combination of them all together was just heavy.  It literally felt like I was eating a pie with all sorts of layers that I’m not sure melded together that well.  When the pizza isn’t hot out of the oven, the stuffed cheese layer gets to be too stretchy and a bit much.  The toppings, because they are under layers of sauce just end up being soggy rather than perhaps having well cooked crispier pepperoni.  There is none of that burnt crust, crispy flavor associated with this deep dish pizza.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still ate the pizza and I still liked it, I just didn’t love it the way I expected to.  I am always someone who things that bigger is better, double the pizza is better than less pizza, so I really expected to like the deep dish pizza because you get more cheese, more sauce, more toppings, more pizza, but somehow, it just didn’t live up to the hype I had expected it to have in my mind.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2014 11:26 am

    I always say that pizza is one of those things like movies that is just so subjective and everybody has a different idea of what they like best. I like thin crust, heavily-topped Minnesota style pizza joint pizzas best – the kind you can find in small towns all over the state. Green Mill has a Chicago-style deep dish that is pretty good, however my husband doesn’t like deep dish with the sauce on top like that. A friend of mine who grew up in MN but now lives in CT hates thin MN pizzas and loves NY style. At least you got to try it, though.

  2. November 13, 2014 11:31 am

    I always say that pizza is one of those things, like movies, that is so subjective and everyone has such a different idea of what is good and bad. I love thin-crusted, heavily-topped MN style pizza like you can find in small towns all over the state. Green Mill has a Chicago-style deep dish that I like all right, but my husband doesn’t care for deep dish with the sauce on top. Another friend who lives in CT thinks our MN thin crust pizzas are horrible and loves NY-style. Everyone seems to like something different. At least you got to try it though.

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