Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Rivals
A couple years ago, when the Cubs were in the play-offs for the world series, we went up to Chicago and found ourselves in a sportsbar Chicago Pizza joint in Wrigleyville. This dining experience was definitely Chicago fun and magical. Everyone was in a great mood, we all cheered for the Cubs, we raised a glass for good luck, and had the most awesome Chicago deep dish pizza. The crust was olive oily, the chunky tomato topping was just the juicy perfection, the cheese had a good long stringy quality, and the there were tons of pizza ingredients stuffed into the middle. Was it the cheap beer, the crowd cheering and the Cub’s winning that makes me think so fondly of this pizza, or was it really the holy grail of Chicago deep dish pizza? Regardless of the reason for such fond memories of this meal, it is my gold standard that all other Chicago pizza joints must live up to.
A few weeks ago, I was in Chicago again, and while I was there, I did a little taste testing of the 2 big Chicago chains of deep-dish or stuffed pizza. The big two are Gino’s East and Giordano’s. I was hoping to find that magical pizza experience like I had a couple years ago.
The first day in Chicago, I asked the guys in the Chicago office where I might find the good Chicago deep-dish pizza in the area, and they directed me Giordano’s World Famous Stuffed Pizza. Off we went and we ordered a cheese, mushroom, pepperoni and sausage pizza, and the waitress told us that it would take 45 minutes to be served because they make each pizza to order. The pizza had a lot of cheese, about 3/4 inch of cheese and not all of it was melted to its stringy goodness, and the cheese seemed to drown out the flavor of the other ingredients. Since there was very little tomato puree on top of the pizza, even with all that cheese, the pizza was a bit dry. The crust was a bit dense and it felt like some tooth tartar was scraped off while trying to bite into the crust. The wait staff was great, but the pizza was only ok, and the pizza did not hit me in a way that I would have a driving need to come back.
The next day, I scanned the internet for Chicago Pizza, and found Gino’s East. I went on my own because who would want to deep-dish pizza twice in a row? I got the Gino’s Supreme that had cheese, sausage, pepperoni, onions and peppers in it. Again, there was more cheese in one slice than the RDA of cheese for a month. This pizza was hot, oozy, and had a really nice chunky tomato topping to it. There were enough of the other ingredients, so their flavors came through. Gino’s crust is a light yellow color, possibly with a little cornmeal in it, and it had a slight southern biscuit texture making it easier to bite into and chew. I liked this pizza, and I may go back to Gino’s East the next time I am in Chicago.