Out of Town Hound Needs Stuffed Pizza Advice
I know you guys get these pizza questions frequently, but I'd like some up to date opinions, as I'm visiting town in two weeks.
I have researched "Chicago-style" pizza here and elsewhere, and have learned:
- There is stuffed, and there is deep dish. I've had both (outside of Chicago) and am thinking of going for stuffed this time around.
- It seems the two main purveyors/originators of stuffed are Giordano's and Nancy's.
- Both seem to have fans / detractors on Chowound.
- Both have exactly equal Zagat ratings.
- Both look fairly similar.
- Everyone says to go to the flaghsip locations, which is fine by me.
So, assuming these conclusions are correct, where should I go, Nancy's or Giordano's?
Actually, there are 3 kinds of thicker "Chicago-style" pizzas. Stuffed, Deep Dish and Pan. Many people use Deep-Dish and Pan interchangebly, but they are very different styles (although they are both made in pans). A Deep-dish pizza has a thin floury crust with high side walls, much like an apple pie. A pan pizza has a thick crust that is of uniform thickness. The crust is usually crunchy on the bottom and soft and moist on top, so it blends with the cheese in a quiche-like way. The pan pizza crust does not have walls like the deep-dish so the cheese comes in contact with the pan, creating a carmelized edge. Some places, like Pequods, actually line the pan walls with cheese to maximize the carmelization. A stuffed pizza is simply a deep-dish with a second crust on top. To me, stuffed pizzas tend to be a little overwhelming. They are very filling, and take a long time to cook, so I don't eat them often (pan is my favorite style).
It has been a long time since I had a stuffed pizza at one of the major chains, but I used to like Edwardo's better than Giordano's. Nancy's has always seemed a little inconsistent and varies from location to location. An establishment which is known for their stuffed pizza is Bacino's in Lincoln Park (also a loop location). In fact, for stuffed Pizza, I would probably take Bacino's over any of the above. I have also had very good stuffed pizza at Ranalli's, (another Lincoln Park venue), where they confuse things even further by offering yet another style called a double-decker (basically two thin crust pizzas stacked). The best thing about stuffed pizzas, is that the over-the-top style lends itself to being stuffed with unusual ingredients, and Ranalli's offers a lot of choices. Spinach is probably the most common, but you can also get eggplant, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes etc. My favorite configuration of stuffed pizza comes from a place in Edgewater called Tedino's. It is a "Greek" pizza which is stuffed with feta cheese, spinach and olives. I think Ranalli's also offers feta, as well as several other unusual cheeses and non-standard stuffing options (including sardines and sauerkruat).
I have never been to Bacino's (though now I am dying to try it out) but I have to say that the stuffed pizza from Giordano's on Rush street is VERY GOOD! It does take close to an hour to bake so you do have to have some time to kill. As for your original question, I haven't been to Nancy's so I can't tell you which I prefer. But, in my opinion, you can't go wrong with Giordano's. Just writing about it makes me hungry for it. Hope you have a great time in the city!
P.S. - Great post Roger.
As most have mentioned, I agree that it depends on which location you dine at. We don't care for Giordano's in the suburbs at all... our favorite is Connie's and their original location is on Archer Avenue on Chicago's southside. It's been years since I've have Edwardo's, but I also recall that being very good. Another option that has not been mentioned is My Pie on North Clark Street. It has a very flakey crust and delicious fillings. There's a lot of choices in Chicago!