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Dining Out

Chicago 2011 Part 3 - Pizzeria Uno, Giordano's

by Michael Chu
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As part of our June 2011 trip to Chicago, we had the opportunity to eat at two famous pizzerias: Pizzeria Uno (at the original East Ohio Street location) and Giordano's (on Rush Street).

Pizzeria Uno Exterior at Night
At Pizzeria Uno (29 E Ohio St, Chicago, Illinois), it takes about 45 minutes for them to prepare and bake your pizza, so they require guests to order the pizza prior to being placed on the wait list. If the wait is forty minutes long before you get your table, it's not a big deal since the wait for the table doesn't delay your food. We didn't know this the first night we tried to eat at Pizzeria Uno, so we went elsewhere. The next night, we returned, learned how the whole ordering procedure worked, placed our order for a small Numero Uno deep dish pizza, and prepared for a long wait. Surprisingly, after only ten minutes they had a table ready for us.

The table they seated us at was very narrow. It was so narrow that you couldn't put too plates across from each other and we had to sit staggered so as to not have our knees interlock (the opposing seats are so close that knocking knees isn't possible because they're overlapping so much that you're more likely to bang your knee on a thigh than another knee).

Pizzeria Uno - Small Salad Bowl
We started by splitting a Small Salad Bowl ($4.59) dressed in an vinaigrette.

Pizzeria Uno - Numero Uno Deep Dish Pizza
About 35 minutes after we were seated, our small Numero Uno (extra cheese, fresh sausage, pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, onions, and green peppers) pizza ($18.29) arrived. The design of the Numero Uno deep dish pizza is different than your typical pizza. The crust is closer to a pie crust (very firm and almost flaky) than a traditional pizza dough. On top of the bottom layer of crust is a thick layer of low-moisture mozzarella cheese. It seems this layer protects the bottom crust from getting wet as the crust was dry and not one bit soggy. I loved how the texture of the crust was preserved in this manner. Next was as layer of sausage. This wasn't a layer of sprinkled crumbled sausage, but instead a solid layer of sausage meat which meant every bite had some sausage in it. Lastly, was a top layer of tomatoes and fresh vegetables that was seasoned minimally and tasted light and refreshing. Both Tina and I loved the way this pizza came out. It was both rich and heavy from the sausage, cheese, and crust, while being loaded with the bright flavors of the vegetables. (I should point out that the pizza is also not at all greasy.)

It's been a while since I've eaten at one of Uno's franchise locations (so my memory may be a little fuzzy), but I think I can safely say that the pizza served from the original location (and, I assume, Pizzeria Due down the street) is very different from (and much better than) the deep dish pizzas served at the other locations.

Later in the week, we went to Giordano's Restaurant and Pizzeria (730 North Rush Street, Chicago). Giordano's specializes in a stuffed crust pizza which is a bit different than the deep dish pizza sold at Pizzeria Uno's. At Giordano's, their stuffed pizza is double crusted. An extra piece of dough is placed above the main ingredients on the pizza and that crust is then topped with their tomato sauce.

Giordano's - Exterior
The wait at Giordano's was going to be an hour and a half when we arrived. We put my name down, took a menu, and walked back to the hotel. About thirty minutes before my expected table readiness time, we returned to Giordano's and placed a pre-order for our pizza - a small Special (sausage, mushroom, green pepper, onion) which serves two or more ($19.15).

Giordano's - Appetizer Combination Platter
About ten minutes after we placed our pre-order, our table was ready (early). We got seated and ordered an appetizer combination platter ($10.50) with fried zucchini and fried mushrooms (neither one of us felt like fried mozzarella sticks, so we had them hold that). The breading was nicely seasoned and had excellent texture, but both the zucchini and mushrooms were (unsurprisingly) watery and bland.

Giordano's - "Special" Stuffed Pizza
About twenty minutes later, our pizza arrived. The pizza construction, as I mentioned before, is a little different than that of Pizzeria Uno's. The bottom crust is similar (pastry-like) and is also protected by a thick layer of low-moisture mozzarella cheese. The cheese layer did seem to be even thicker than that of Pizzeria Uno. Instead of sausage and tomatoes coming next, Giordano's has the green peppers and onions with a thin sausage layer on top of that. Then comes the second crust - a soggy layer of dough - which separates the tomato sauce on top from the rest of the pizza.

Giordano's - "Special" Stuffed Pizza Slice
I wasn't a big fan of the extra dough (it wasn't enough to make the pizza feel like you were eating substantially more dough, but enough that it makes a difference) or the fact that the vegetables were sandwiched within the pizza (resulting in them having an unappetizing limp texture from being steamed). Overall, it was still a delicious pizza and surprisingly ungreasy. Given the choice between Giordano's and Pizzeria Uno, I personally prefer Pizzeria Uno.

For ease of navigation and to keep the page sizes down, I've split the trip report and reviews into multiple pages:
Chicago 2011 Part 1a - Overview
Chicago 2011 Part 1b - Overview
Chicago 2011 Part 2 - Shui Wah, Santa Anna Bakery
Chicago 2011 Part 3 - Pizzeria Uno, Giordano's (this page)
Chicago 2011 Part 4 - Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse
Chicago 2011 Part 5 - Frontera Grill, Xoco
Chicago 2011 Part 6 - Noodles by Takashi Yagihashi, Frontera Fresco, Marc Burger
Chicago 2011 Part 7 - Alinea
Chicago 2011 Part 8 - Vienna Beef Factory
Chicago 2011 Part 9 - Girl and the Goat

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Written by Michael Chu
Published on August 14, 2011 at 10:00 PM
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