Growing up, I was occasionally drawn to the “deep dish” options in various pizzerias, only to find them relatively dull and not all that different from the traditional fare. At one point, Pizza Hut started advertising something called “Priazzo Italian Pie” which looked a lot more interesting, but at the time Pizza Huts were almost non-existant in Massachusetts. It looked so good on TV…one day I would have to try it. At last, on a family vacation, I convinced my parents to stop for lunch at the Hut. There it was, on the menu…at last the Priazzo would be mine. When the waitress arrived, I proudly declared my selection, only to have my hopes dashed when I was told it was no longer being offered.
Fast forward to early June, 2008 on a brief trip to Chicago. Having attended a wedding here 12 years earlier, I remembered watching the hotel information channel and hearing about a place called “Gino’s East” which served deep dish pizza that looked much like my beloved Priazzo. Somehow I managed to convince my wife to stop there for dinner. And by stop I mean wait for the nearly 45 minutes it took to prepare the deep dish classic. Note to self: never go to a place where you have to wait the better part of an hour for the food to be cooked when you’ve got a hungry, irritable 17-month old who is ready to terrorize the restaurant. Luckily there wasn’t a line when we arrived. The pizza looked impressive and was really served in a deep dish (or what looks like a small cake pan). We had ordered a medium but barely managed to devour half of it even after taking turns taking our son for walks to maintain some semblance of order at our table. My impression? If you like cheese, you’ll love this pizza. It must have taken mountains of mozzarella to to make this thing. The crust itself was quite thick and buttery – almost biscuit-like. Even though we had only managed to reduce the pizza to half its size, it was still followed by the requisite reclining on the hotel bed proclaiming “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”
Yet only two days later I built up enough courage to try again. This time, I learned lessons from my prior mistakes: get take out, order a small. We hit up Giordano’s a local favorite many seemed to prefer to Gino’s. The take out made managing the little one a lot easier, but the pizza was also better. Unlike Gino’s which is basically a cylindrical bowl filled with cheese, sauce, and the occasional additional item (they’re not really “toppings”), Giordano’s covers the top of their pizza with a second crust, making it much more like a pie. The crust is a seems a bit thinner and lighter than Gino’s, so the net impression is about the same amount of bread. Still, there’s not the overwhelming mass of cheese that the Gino’s experience bring with it, and overall Giordano offers a better experience (yes, it is an experience). Despite ordering the size targeted at “1-2 people”, we weren’t able to do much better than we had with Gino’s. Still, it was worth it. Not something to eat every day, but definitely worth a taste if you are in the windy city.
I think I feel like some pizza tonight.