Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eat Chicago. Or, The Day I Ate A Pig's Face

Or, "how I gained 7 lbs in 48 hours and took 48 days to complain about having to take it off".

Short story:
The food was excellent.

Long story:
According to my coworker who used to live in the Chicago area, there are several heated debates about "the best" Chicago-style (deep dish or stuffed?!) pizza. We were up for the gluttonous challenge. Based on time and locale, we decided to try two different spots, one on each day.

Sunday we went to Giordano's, to try their Chicago-style stuffed pizza. There was a 1.5 hour wait for a seating (where you would then order a pizza that took 45 minutes to prepare and deliver to your table). I'm ok with the 45 minute pizza (we've consumed our fair share if calorie bombs at Zelda's), but a 1.5 hour wait at 3pm on a Sunday? No. So we snagged a seat in the bar. The hostess even kicked out some people from a two top for us. They were pissed, I was pleased with this new development.

The pizza was delicious. Sausage, pepperoni, onions, garlic, and green peppers (on my half).

The flash was actually off in this shot, but my face is so shiny
from all the humidity it washed out the rest of the picture. 

 It did have one fatal flaw: too much cheese. I didn't know a pizza could have too much cheese. It can.

Excess cheese oozing out. Easily fixed but kind of a bummer.
But: check out the phenomenal roasted garlic on top! 
Displeased with too much cheese. 

The small was listed as serving two, but it could easily serve four. We ate it anyway and were uncomfortably full the rest of the day. But I guess that's not really Giordano's fault. Anyway it was kind of a bummer we were so full because we had dinner reservations at 10:15 PM.

Yes, 10:15 PM.

Chris had reminded us that Girl and the Goat was in Chicago. GatG is Stephanie Smith's restaurant, winner of Top Chef season 3. Personally, I always put an asterisk next to this one, since the only reason Stephanie won is because Richard Blaise totally choked in the season finale (asks admitted to doing so), this handing the title of Top Chef to Steph on a silver platter. Richard ended up winning Top Chef All-Stars so the universe worked it all out, but still.

So anyway, it's a super popular restaurant now and they only had one reservation available. While I used to not even leave the house to go out until 11PM (with Amanda, hopefully she's reading this so we can both rejoice that we no longer live in dumpy Sacramento apartments but had some good times at Mandango's), that's not how I roll anymore. We almost didn't do it, but quickly came to terms that w had no idea when (or if!) we'd be in Chicago again, so the reservation was made. And at 10:15 on a Sunday night, the place was packed. Do people in Chicago work?

We ordered:

Bread, with goat cheese butter and corn relishGoat cheese butter is delicious.

Fried pickles. Doug makes better ones. These were more like fried cucumbers. Also, can  you see the absolutly incredibly obnoxious hat in the background? This loser sitting next to me thought she was Ricky Ricardo at the Copacabana. 

Potato Won-Tons. They had green garlic, ramps (pretentious word for wild green onions), shitake mushrooms (eat shitake!), asparagus and pecans. These were decent.

Goat Empanadas. Obviously we had to try some goat out and these were FABULOUS. Goat meat stuffed in a soft yet crispy shell with some pickled vegetables, goat cheese and a cheese/sour cream sauce. Amazing.

Mmmm. Meat eaters unite!

Pig Face. That's right, pig face. I ate the face of a fucking pig and it was delicious. Tasted like bacon. Came with a sunny-side egg on top, three different sauces (tamarind, red wine maple, and cilantro) and potato straws
In your face, pig!
Cracking the egg... in the face!

Dessert was a Goat Cheese Bavarois. It was (from top to bottom) blueberries, a brown sugar cake, and whipped goat cheese on top with little sprinkled caramel crisps. Sounds weird but it was absolutely amazing and someone in Sacramento should start making these ASAP.

If you go with a big group of people, you can actually order a goat leg at this place, and just  nosh on it all night. Will try this next time.

Monday it was time to try another pizza place, this time for Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Gino's East has three locations now, one of them a sports bar about a half molds from the Chicago Art Institute. Based on the pizza experience we'd had the day prior, going to the bar, as opposed to an original location, seemed the quicker option, and we were right, the place was pretty dead.Pizza still took 45 minutes, but they had beer flights so we stayed pretty entertained.

This deep dish pizza was smaller (thank God, because our self control is nonexistent). We got the Chicago Fire: spicy sausage, red peppers and red onions. Again, absolutely delicious. Very spicy.

The sausage is in patties, not chunks, and was spicy. The crust is yellow and I think is made with cornmeal, which is something I'd never had and was a unique element.

Sausage patties and  yellow cornmeal crust. Yes. 
What is this? Oh right, an extreme close up of some pizza
 I ate with a huge bite removed. Scary looking. But: Yum!

I suppose it's not really fair to compare a deep dish to a stuffed in the Great Midwest Vacation Pizza Showdown, but it's not like I'm fair anyway. Doug and I both agree that Gino's East gets the W.

What's the best pizza you've ever had? Ever eaten a goat leg? Are you a vegetarian? (If so this probably isn't the post for you.)


  1. Ok so whomever keeps touting the "Chicago-style" pizza business is ridiculous. Barely any Chi-towners I know, including this homegrown former Chicagoan, really enjoys deep dish or stuffed. I amount deep dish to a pure tourist trap. But then again, I'm also a Snooty McSnooterson sometimes when it comes to food and what I like my hometown to be known for (i.e. I hate Chicago being known for "summer gun violence and murders"...). But anyway, back to my point here, the best pizza I've ever had, hands down, is in SACRAMENTO! OMG. Teddy and I miss Masullo's so much. These SoCal peeps can't really hit the spot on classic perfectly crispy Neapolitan style pizza like Masullo. Amazing. Send me a slice!

    I really don't care much for goat though oddly I've had it several times. Even more interesting perhaps is that I've had pig face! Last Dec we were in Portland and I had a foi gras charcuterie thing (yeah, I just said that) and there was some sort of crispy pig face egg situation atop a apricot-infused foi gras. Weird yet somehow good.

    1. aw come on Elle, it was delish! and giordanos had like best pizza of the universe from a hundred newspapers etc. ;) we haven't tried masullo's yet but will soon - it's been on my list and i'll move it to the top! all pig parts are weird yet good - i think omnivores can agree on that.

  2. I Am developing lactose intolerance just looking at that stuffed crust pizza. And, that girl is really taking the goat theme to heart. That's about all the commenting I have energy for tonight.

    1. way to push thru T with the comment - you done good. goat good. cheese good. too much cheese bad. too much goat bad. T good.