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Friday, December 23, 2011

Stuffed crust at Giordano's

"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."
~ Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again

I had idealized Giordano's after a 2007 visit when I was crippled with an Achilles injury and could only hobble so far [see blog post]. After an agonizing hoof to Binny’s Beverage Depot to score some travel liquor I found a location a mere two-and-a-half blocks from the Hyatt Regency where I was staying. The leftovers were most comforting after I woke up in the middle of the night in screaming pain from bumping my severely bruised heel.

Four years later I pull into town aboard a late Greyhound bus and return to the Hyatt Regency. Seeking to get the most out of what I paid for the room, I googled the surrounding area for carryout. Pizzeria Uno and Gino’s East were just beyond the range of walking back with a pizza without it becoming a cold, lifeless disc.

The crowded, noisy experience of Lou Malnati’s River North location on a previous visit swayed me from attempting a dine-in experience [see blog post]. Chicago truly is the City of the Big Shoulders. Vibrant, active, bustling. That said, I’m not a fan of bustling. Like a growling dog, I prefer to have some lebensraum while eating.

Revisiting the Giordano's at Prudential Plaza, I passed on ordering a speciality build and opted for a stuffed crust with my benchmark toppings: pepperoni and onion. I appreciated the abundance of cheese, and surprisingly the white onion. The crust seemed not as dense as the Lou Malnati's "Lou's Special" I had tried at the aforementioned River North location. For thickness and heft Giordano's stuffed crust tops Lou's Special. Veneer of sauce atop is flavorful enough but I expected more.

In Des Moines, back in the dark age of the last century when good pizza was limited to a handful of family restaurants specializing in crispy thin tavern-style pies, deep-dish was defined by Felix & Oscar’s heavily sauced “pizza-in-the-pan.” That seminal foray into sauce-on-the-top as a youth still influences my preference, which is why I wasn’t as enamored with the sauceless “Lou’s Special” that utilized sliced tomatoes on top, nor after a sober evaluation of Giordano’s stuffed crust.

I resolve to return to Lou Malnati’s for a sauce-on-top "Buttercrust," as well Pizzeria Uno, Gino’s East, or any lesser known Chicago pizzeria that strikes my fancy.

My favorite deep-dish remains to be the outstanding cheese-on-top pizza served at the Exchequer Pub on S. Wabash [see blog post]. Their judicious use of pepperoni underneath a thick cap of surprisingly flavorful cheese was delightful.

Giordano's Pizza on Urbanspoon

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