Let’s try this again. After a cold walk around Chicago’s South Side and the Robie House, we decide to give deep dish another try. This time we go off the recommendations of some Chicgo ex-pat friends and stop into Giordono’s. The menu claims a history of Italian immigrants bringing over a recipe from Turin in the 70’s, so can this really be considered authentic Chicago deep dish?
This one was better. The crust was piping hot and crispy. The filling was a little cooler than I’d like and the mushrooms and peppers would have benefitted from sautéing first. But the cheese had great flavor and you could taste the pork, fennel and spices in the sausage.
This is a much better pie than we had at Lou Malnati’s, but I think there’s still some room for improvement to make a truly great pie.
Quick junk food, Portillo’s is setup like a food court. This Chicago Classic is spreading locations across the country, selling quintessential Chicago dogs and Italian food. While people may dispute the quality, there’s no doubting the heavenly aroma when you walk through the doors.
A Chicago dog with everything on it… onions, pickles, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers but no ketchup! Not a special dog, but pile high like this makes it amazing.
Of course the dog wasn’t enough, so I also got the Italian beef with sweet peppers. Delicious, juicy, flavorful an light years better than the giant McDonalds across the street.
Twin Anchors Tavern is a small dive on Chicago’s north side and a huge part if Chicago history. A favorite of Frank Sinatra, this tiny bar has a great beer list and is famous for their ribs. We started our tavern tour here, and grabbed lunch while we waited on a coldly snowy Chicago morning.
The pork is tender, juicy, with some great smokey flavor. The barbecue sauce is tangy, sweet, almost picklish and light on the molasses. Great way to warm up!
The ribs are worthy of the reputation. Great bark with lots of flavor and char. Tender fall of the bone, I can see why Frank enjoyed them so much. The spicy sauce with ghost peppers adds a lot of sweet heat that sneaks up on you, but doesn’t mask the great flavor of the ribs.
Both dishes were great, but the ribs really stand out and are worth coming back for.
Ok, I know it’s not real Chicago Italian-American food, but it’s a regional chain I’ve heard about. Noodles & Company makes all things noodlish, from Asian to Italian styles, and represents something you just don’t find in LA, hot hearty convenient food for a cold day.
I’m a sucker for good Mac and cheese, and very picky about it. So I knew it was a gamble to try their Wisconsin Mac & Cheese with meatballs. If you like the blue box, you’ll probably like this. The noodles are very hot and al dente, but the cheese sauce tastes powdered. The pile of factory shredded cheese on top didn’t melt and didn’t add much to the dish. The meatballs had great texture and a lot of rich flavor with a nice oven toasted crust, but were very salty. But within a few minutes the whole dish had congealed into a lumpy gross mess.
Pearl fared much better with the Bankok Curry. Pulled pork on rice noodles tossed with fresh herbs and vegetables in a nice light spicy gingery sauce. Certainly not Thai, and not a curry either, but quite delicious. Add a delicious dash of Siracha and you’re all set!
OK, it’s a chain, but it’s only 2 blocks from the hotel and it’s cold out, so Lou Malnati’s will be our first experience with deep dish pizza in Chicago. We get a table almost immediately though the place is pretty busy.
We’re told our pizza will take 30 min or so, and based on the questions asked, it sounds like most patrons preorder their pie. Good way to turn tables, and a good sign if people know the ins and outs of ordering.
While we wait for our pie, I indulge in a pint. Noticing a regional label unfamiliar with, I quiz the waiter and settle on 312 Urban Wheat from Goose Island. Not very translucent, light on wheat flavor, and the taste of chorine and too much hops is of putting for this style of beer. I much preferred it when I found it on tap a few weeks ago in San Francisco. I still need to check them out while I’m here in Chicago.
What you see is The Chicago Classic, a sausage pie with mushrooms and onion added.
Honestly? A little disappointed, but maybe I had my hopes too high for a chain. Crust is nice and crispy, but doughy. The sausage is generous in portion, and lean, but the only flavoring seems to be salt. Likewise the mozzarella is generic and salty. The tomatoes make everything on top a watery mess. Overall this pizza lacks in flavor. Sad to say, their frozen ones might actually be better.