Chicago-style deep dish or stuffed pizza
I'll probably be struck by lightning for asking this, but...are there any places serving Chicago-style deep dish or stuffed pizza (along the lines of Gino's East, Lou Malnati's, Giordano's etc.)? Have tried the one at Garces Trading Company, which was good, but am looking for some other options. Anywhere in lower Bucks or Philadelphia proper is fine. No Pizzeria Uno recs, please!
Pizzeria Uno, in Hamilton, NJ-with an explanation.
I lived in Chicago for years; initially at the corner of Dearborn and Chicago Avenue. From that apartment, I could see the original Uno's sign lights from my bedroom window. Due's was just around the corner. This was in the '80's, when Ike Sewell was alive, and no Uno's franchises were permitted. The new, franchised places are not the same (not as good).
Beyond that, I met my wife at the Giordano's on Rush Street. When we moved to the Belmont Harbor area, Lou Malnatti's, in Old Town, was a short walk away. We served as (undercover) tasters for the Lettuce Entertain U chain, which meant we got free pizzas from Gino's (East) in Streeterville. When we lived in Hyde Park, we also frequented Eduardo's. All in all, I ate a lot of pizza in Chicago.
So, just FYI, the Uno's franchise outlet in Hamilton, NJ (on Sloan Avenue, next to the AMC movie complex) actually has something special going for it (not really the food, though). They have a remarkable, rotating beer menu, in the bar area. They have a selection that rivals (or surpasses) places in Philly like Monk's, in terms of variety, styles, and constant updating of the beer menu . The beer is served in the "appropriate' glasses; they have tasting flights; the staff (at the bar) is knowledgeable, friendly, and interested in discussing the available choices. It's truly surprising to find all this at a franchise outlet of any type.
The pizza, of course, is what you would expect: workmanlike versions of Ike's original creations. My wife and I can eat the individual pies without getting angry or feeling that this (franchised) version is doing unforgivable damage to the memories of the pizzas we ate in Chicago, as newlyweds, 30 years ago.
What can I say; if you're interested in exploring a legitimate beer specialty place, and can tolerate a more or less reasonable replica of the original Uno's/Due's pies, this might be worth a drive. It's about 40 minutes from Center City.
I know you said "no Pizzeria Uno recs", but, IMHO, this place is a little different.
"My wife and I can eat the individual pies without getting angry or feeling that this (franchised) version is doing unforgivable damage to the memories of the pizzas we ate in Chicago, as newlyweds, 30 years ago."
I tried a Uno's franchise in Langhorne, PA a few months ago out of sheer desperation and it was unimpressive, but your comment on the Hamilton location, from a connoisseur of Chicago-style pizza, is good enough for me! Will definitely check it out.
I've been to the original Uno's and Due's and thought they had been surpassed by the other places you mentioned above. But my visits to Uno's and Due's were recent--within the last 5 years.
Incidentally, how does one get to be an undercover taster for Lettuce Entertain U? Sounds like an awesome gig!
The Lettuce Entertain U (LEU) thing was pure luck. A colleague of mine at the Board of Trade mentioned that he and his wife were doing this thing for LEU and gave me a phone number to call which connected me to their (LEU) marketing department. We said we were interested in doing this, we were employed, etc. and we wnet to their offices for an interview. Make a long story short, we were accepted and engaged on a clandestine, investigatory mission for several months.
Basically, we were assigned to go to 1 or 2 of their restaurants (and I can't remember the name, other than Gino's) a week to, basically, spy on the employees. The 3 basic requirements (at the interview-beyond being able to get to the restaurants and not creating any disturbances) were:
1. Were we willing to eat out and/or take out food from the included restaurants
2. Were we willing (at each restaurant) to sit at the bar before eating and order "call/top shelf" brands of liquor (Tanqueray vs. bar gin, etc.)
3. Would we fill out and submit our reports on a timely basis, and wait for our reimbursements?
Needless to say, we had no objection to any of these conditions, and we were off.
One of the big things we were instructed to watch for (at the bar)was whether the bartender always rang up the high priced brand and (always) shut the cash register drawer completely after each transaction. As I said, we were essentially spying on the employees. Still, it was fun; we never observed any theft or fraud. As I recall, the food and were always good, and we enjoyed the whole experience. We weven passed the word along to othet couples we knew, and all the people who participated enjoyed it too.
LEU had a standardized feedback form that we would fill out after each meal, which made the process easier. I don't know if they are still using people to do these observations, but, if you live in Chicago, you might want to try calling the LEU marketing people to find out.
BTW, I in my OP, I did not men to recommend a drive from Philly to the Uno's in Hamilton just for the food. The beer is the attraction there, and as noted by another poster, the Langhorne, PA franchise has the same owner, and the same focus on beer. It's OK to split a small/individual pizza (maybe a bowl of clam chowder when they have it) and check out whatever beers may be on offer.
Sorry to have rambled on so long,
Thanks, cwdonald and MC for the additional info on Uno's. Sadly (for me), I'm not much of a beer drinker. So the search for good deep dish here continues....
MC, I enjoyed reading about the LEU thing--sounds like fun. Have never lived in Chicago, although it used to be my road trip destination of choice for good food when I lived in the Midwest!
Completely agree the deep dish at Garces Trading Co doesn't come close to any of the Chicago places, but our other options were Uno's or nothing! We've had the frozen Lou Malnati's pizzas before and agree they're pretty good. Was hoping for more options here, but may have to resort to ordering from Malnati's.
Pizzaria Uno does make me literally angry! (Ex-Chicagoan)
Don't know about Lou Malnati's, but a few years ago I had pizzas shipped half-cooked and frozen from both Giordano's and Edwardo's, and not only were they ridiculously expensive, but the results were very disappointing.
Sorry to hear GTC may not be that great, since I was looking forward to trying their version.
I'd guess that the frozen ones from different restaurants would turn out about the same--not nearly as good as getting it at the actual restaurant, but good for a quick fix if there are no better options around. BTW, if you do get around to trying the deep dish at Garces, please report back!
I like to restart this conversation if it is ok.
I am not looking for the absolutely very best Chicago deep dish pizza, but I am hoping something more classical, something resembles the typical deep dish pizza.
Or is Uno franchise in Hamilton NJ my best bet? I am ok with that. I actually ate there a few times, and I like it there, but I just want to know if there are better options in or near Philly.
You would think that if we can get classic or authentic Chinese Dim Sum in Philly, then we should able to get a classic Chicago deep dish pizza as well.
It's funny, but I think you're right that only Uno will come close to the Chicago style deep dish. This is not the worst thing, as it's pretty authentic IME. It's not like Chicago deep dish is a culinary masterpiece.
What happens here is we get the Sicilian style instead which no one really likes.