Chicago-style pizza is one of America's quintessential love/hate foods. Denizens of the Windy City will come to blows over their favorite deep-dish or stuffed-crust pies, whether from famous chains like Lou Malnati's, Uno and Gino's East or more esoteric locals joints, including My Pie, Art of Pizza and Burt's Place. While those raised on thinner, more civilized pizzas are sure to utter phrases like "That's not a pizza, it's a casserole!" when they see these models, Chicago pizza entrepreneurs have continued to spread the deep-dish gospel far from the shores of Lake Michigan.
The latest invader in the pizza war is Giordano's, which just opened its first Denver outpost at 1600 California Street on the 16th Street Mall, right by Target. Fans will immediately come to the defense of the company's stuffed-crust pizza, a sub-set of the deep-dish species that sports a thin layer of crust between the cheese (which hides on the bottom layer) and the bright, thick sauce. Sure, you'll wait upwards of half an hour for your pizza, and once it arrives you'll only be able to eat a slice or two of the imposing construction of flaky dough, spicy sausage, lake of sauce and stretchy wads of mozzarella. But that's all part of the pleasure of Chicago-style pie — the anticipation, the aroma of the almost buttery crust, the first tangy bite, the groan of satisfaction as you push away from the table after your last bite (and it's always one bite too many).
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Giordano's isn't the original Chicago deep-dish pizza, but it's one of the founders of the stuffed-crust variety and has served Chicago since 1974. There are now nearly twenty Giordano's pizzerias in nine states, mostly in the Great Lakes region, but with tentacles extending as far as Nevada and Florida.
Other Chicago favorites have crossed into Colorado, including Uno Pizzeria & Grill (quite possibly the inventor of the style) at 16375 East 40th Avenue; California chain Patxi's has gained a foothold in Denver with three pizzerias serving Chicago-style pie. Local favorites include Crush Pizza & Tap (which recently changed its name from Denver Deep Dish) and Wyman's No. 5, with chains such as Jimano's and Nicolo's adding to the fray.
You may be a fan of thin and delicate Neapolitan pizza, or the big, floppy slices you ate on the streets of New York as a kid, but Chicago-style pies have their place in the canon of regional American pizza, even if they're more of an occasional splurge rather than an everyday staple.
Giordano's is open on the 16th Street Mall from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sunday. Call 720-874-5205 or visit the Giordano's website for more information.