FIELD GUIDE TO DEEP DISH PIZZERIAS

All photos complements of Urbanspoon.com

Giordano’s Pizzeria

Establishment: 1974 by Efren and Joesph Boglio.

Neighborhood: Chicago Loop; 310 W Randolph St. Downtown Chicago.

Atmosphere: Chicago pride was theme throughout pizzeria. Walls covered in old Chicago Tribune newspaper articles and old posters. Maps of original “L” train routes. The word “Chicago” was everywhere. Very illuminated with bright light bulbs. Writing on the wall stating “god created Giordano’s.” Family friendly;lots of families choose this place. Traditional pizzeria with checkered table cloths. Small bar area in the front right corner of the restaurant; somewhat hidden.

Pizza: The overabundance of mozzarella acted as glue, holding entire pizza together. Needed a machete to cut the cheese (no pun intended). Cheese rested on the crust, sausage and vegetables sat on top of the cheese, followed by more cheese, and topped with a light layer of the house marinara sauce. Cheese stole the spotlight, overpowered other ingredients. The pounds of cheese on the pizza brought with it pounds of grease (there goes my healthy heart). Crust was similar tasting to pie crust; thick and soft.

Slogan/Claim to Fame: “World Famous Stuffed Pizza”; chosen “Best Pizza in America” by NBC. Chicago Tribune writes “Giordano’s pizza is a must when in Chicago.” New York Times posts, “The Ultimate Pizza.”

Notes: Author experienced lengthy wait, which was always expected at just about every hour in the day. The manager paced through the restaurant as if it were his mission to make friends with every person that entered through the doors. Author found the staff to be exceptionally friendly. Author felt as if she had experienced Chicago after walking out of there. Plattner was right when he said author needed “iron gut” to down a few slices of this pizza.

Gino’s East Pizzeria


Top Left: Photo compliments of Foodhead.com

Top Right: Photo taken by Tommy Poorathur

Bottom: Photo taken by Jan Doe

Established: 1966

Neighborhood: 162 E Superior St; Downtown Chicago.

Atmosphere: “Free and easy” was the mood. Writing on walls encouraged pizza eaters to leave a piece of them with Gino. Drawings, scribbles, autographs, and words of wisdom covered black walls. Autographed photos of celebrities hung all over walls. Dark on the inside; neon lights illuminated restaurant. More of a bar atmosphere than anything. Graffiti everywhere from chairs to toilet seats. Young-middle aged adult environment.

Pizza: Sloppy (put on napkin suit before eating). A generous amount of cheese; looks like a curtain of mozzarella when pulled out of pan. Vegetables and meat rest in between two layers of cheese, and the whole pie is drenched in a secret sauce. Sauce is chunky, very heavy, and sweet; strong tomato flavor.  Crust is thick on bottom; crust walls high. Soft on bottom (possibly a bit undercooked), crunchier on sides. Compare the taste of crust to that of corn bread/biscuits. Sauce and cheese showing up all of the other ingredients within the deep dish pie. I could feel arteries being clogged with every bite; secret ingredient, grease.

Slogan/Claim to Fame: “The Original Chicago Deep Dish”; Gino’s East is the standard by which all other Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is judged. Ranked #1 by People Magazine.

Notes: Beware of long lines; bring a coat in case you have to wait in frigid temperatures. Customer service could have been better had the restaurant not been serving half of Chicago. Don’t waste money on extra toppings; you won’t be able to taste them anyways with the amount of cheese and sauce they put on. Waiter was laid back and humorous. Hostess was easily flustered at the arrival of more and more pizza eaters.  Regardless, this place will bring out everyone’s inner child.

Pequod’s Pizza


Left: Photo complements of www.planet99.com

Right: Photo complements of www.slide.seriouseats.com

Established: 1986

Neighborhood: 2207 N Clybourn Ave; Lincoln Park.

Atmosphere: Small space, bar is center of restaurant. Loud music. Large TV.  Friendly; mainly young adult clientele. “Hole in the wall” look on outside. Casual, but not very family oriented. Wanna-be sports bar. Walls decorated with a few sports memorabilia and a bit of graffiti.

Pizza: Hearty; definition of deep dish. Heavy on the cheese and sauce, but even more generous with meats and vegetables. Huge chunks of juicy meat and hearty bites of fresh veggies. Sauce is a sweet, thin puree. Mozzarella cheese makes up bottom layer followed by sauce and a healthy amount of extra ingredients. Toppings are fresh and piled high; very satisfying. Crust is soft and thick at the bottom; crust walls are caramelized cheese.

Slogan/Claim to Fame: “Famous Caramelized Crust”; local favorite.

Notes: Author felt that a certain staff members were a unenthusiastic. Pizza took a while, longer than a half hour but worth crappy service. Author appreciated the fact that she was actually able to taste the toppings that were ordered instead of getting a mouthful of cheese. Author wishes Pequod’s had a nation-wide delivery service so her hometown could enjoy the taste of this deep dish pizza.

Gulliver’s Pizza


Top: Photo complements of slice.seriouseats.com

Bottom Left: Photo complements of LTHforum.com

Bottom Right: Photo complements of slice.seriouseats.com

Established: 1965 by Jerry Freeman and Burt Katz.

Neighborhood: 2727 W Howard St; West Rodgers Park.

Atmosphere: Much like walking into an antique shop. Feel like you are entering another time period. A plethora of old chandeliers hang from just about every space of ceiling. Stained china hung on the walls and marble statues covered shelves. Booths and walls composed of exceptional dark woodwork. Massive collection of beautiful Victorian artwork, paintings, and pictures. Stained glass windows and wall hangings. Family friendly; adult clientele would appreciate ambiance more. Very laid back and visually pleasing.

Pizza: Perfect combination of ingredients. Cheese and sauce was tasty, but not overpowering. Sauce was seasoned with a great blend of Italian seasonings. On top of the mozzarella cheese were a hearty amount of fresh ingredients. The spicy sausage had a nice kick to it and went well with the homemade sauce. Crust is crunchy like Lou Malnati’s, but has a little bit more of a buttery flavor to it.

Slogan/Claim to Fame: “World Famous Pizza in the Pan.”

Notes: Definitely a unique dining experience; so much to look at! More of a middle aged crowd dined there when author visited. Another place that should consider delivering pizza nation-wide. Author had just as much waiting for her pizza as she did eating it! Author felt awkward dining alone; suggests dining with companion on next visit.

Lou Malnati’s Pizza


Left: Photo complements of chitowndining.com

Right: Photo complements of erestaurants.com

Established: 1971 by Lou Malnati.

Neighborhood: 958 W. Wrightwood; Lincoln Park.

Atmosphere: Simple and cozy. Center of dining hall sits a “living room” type are with couches and a television; implies that dining experience will be “just like home.” Chicago sports memorabilia hangs on walls; looks like a sports bar minus the bar. Very small dining area. Easy to feel like family in confined, crowded dining room. College crowd represent the most frequent diners. Service is great; staff is friendly, treats customers like family.

Pizza: Sausage was the star student when it came to the ingredients. Sauce is chunky and heavy. Loads of cheese and grease (can’t be good for the cholesterol). Crust is crispy and flakey, but not overly thick; a bit plain tasting. Cheese and sausage sometimes separates from crust making the pizza annoying to eat.

Slogan/Claim to Fame: “World Famous Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza.”

Notes: Author enjoyed taste of Lou’s famous sausage. Place is very appropriate for all ages. Long lines and waits are their weakness, but what great deep dish pizzeria doesn’t have that problem? Author fit in well with the clientele there at the time and enjoyed overall experience.

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