We had heard good things about the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady. Apparently, it is the best cruise on the Chicago river, and a must for all to experience, even if you know next to nothing about architecture. You get to hear about more than 50 buildings along the river during the 90 minutes cruise. We made our way to the river, hoping to hop on the next cruise. Alas, it was sold out – but there was room on the 2 PM cruise, meaning we had about 90 minutes to go for lunch and make it back in time.
Thankfully, I had spotted something on the way. So from the river-walk, we walked south on Lower Beaubien until we hit it. Giordano’s Famous Stuffed Pizza.
According to their story, Efren and Joseph Boglio were born in a small northern Italian town near Torino, where their mother was known for her food, including a deep-dish, double-crusted pizza, which she made on Easter and stuffed with ricotta cheese.
Efren emigrated to the US in 1967 and took a job in a pizzeria. In his opinion, however, nothing offered could approach what his mother used to make. So he opened his own pizza restaurant, called Roma. When his brother Joseph came to Chicago, they decided to close Roma and open a restaurant specializing in their mothers’s pizza. In February 1974, they opened Giordano’s, named after their mother.
Today, Giordano’s has 40 locations in Illinois and 3 more in Florida, and despite some financial problems in 2011, they are still looking at expanding.
The place wasn’t super busy, thankfully, so we got a table right away. Classic red-and-white tablecloths, a kitschy, classic Italo-American decor and friendly staff contribute to a convivial atmosphere, making us feel welcome right away.
We had learned our lesson from our stop at Pizano’s – we would not start with an appetizer and instead focus on a deep dish pizza.
At Giordano’s, you can choose from 3 sizes of deep-dish pizza. The small serves 1 or 2, the medium 3 or 4, and the large 4 or 5. We soon arrived at the conclusion that we could totally handle a medium, based on our experience at Pizano’s. They offer 6 different types of topping combinations, or you could create your own with 1, 2 or 3 toppings chosen from Sausage, Spinach, Pepperoni, Mushroom, Shrimp, Ground Beef, Green Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes, Jalapeno Peppers, Onions, Black Olives, Fresh Garlic, Broccoli, Green Olives, Anchovies, Pineapple, and Canadian Bacon. (Note that you’ll have to pay extra for shrimp and for spinach. Yup.)
We decided that pepperoni was a must and could not be avoided. Sausage is one of our favorites, so that would make 2. We needed some vegetables though and I wanted some heat, so we figured that some jalapeno peppers would complete our 2nd ever Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza.
Less than half an hour later, well before the 35 minutes warning they say it will take, our stuffed pizza arrived:
This was a big pizza. I mean, it was humongous. Ordering this for the 2 of us might have been a mistake, I thought. I won’t get the support I need to finish this. The waitress carved up the first slice to Mrs. Waffle. The cheese strung out a couple of feet before she cut if off with a knife. It was impressive.
They call it a Stuffed Pizza (but does not have a stuffed crust!) because it goes like this: crust, toppings, cheese, crust, sauce.
A thick, crunchy, flaky and buttery crust – nothing like a regular pizza dough but really like a pie crust. On top of the bottom crust, the pepperoni and the sausage, salty nitratie goodies. Then, a truck load of smooth, velvety, stringy gooey mozzarella cheese. On top, the pie was closed down with another layer of buttery crust – which started to get soggy after a while. Normal, because on top of it was a generous layer of the thick, tangy and sweet tomato sauce; very simple, big tomato flavour, a little garlic, some herbs, but nothing to even start to mask any of the tomato flavour – only there to enhance it. The only downside was the final touch, the jalapenos, which weren’t fresh but pickled – not as good, you get more tangy from the vinegar than heat from the peppers.
Did I mention there was a truckload of cheese? Yeah, I lied.
There was 2 truckloads.
So we were defeated and had to pack up two out of eight slices.