As a relatively new city, I haven’t found Phoenix to have their own signature cuisine. Sure, they have some great Mexican food and boast one of the best pizza places in the country, but I haven’t yet found that distinct Phoenician specialty. And to be honest, that’s just fine with me, because I hail from the Midwest and apparently so do a lot of the restaurant owners in Phoenix. On my last visit, I had Coney Dogs that tasted straight out of Detroit, and this time I had myself a taste of Chicago at Oregano’s.
With locations throughout Arizona, Oregano’s has certainly found itself a lot of patrons in need of some Chicago-style food. I was ready to join their ranks. We went to their Phoenix location and even on a Monday afternoon had to wait for a table. This was a good sign. While waiting, I perused the menu and found their Chicago-style Stuffed Pizza (with Wisconsin cheese!). I was excited to find that their cooking time was a full 45 minutes, which was just what I would expect at Giordano’s in Chicago. Just as I was about to place an early order on the pizza to ensure my group didn’t have to wait, we were seated.
I still decided to quickly place my order and ended up going with their 8″ pepperoni pizza. Usually I would be worried that 8 inches wouldn’t fill me up, but if this pizza was going to live up to its Chicago stuffed expectations, it would be more than enough food. The waitress asked me if I had ever had this pizza before and I proudly said I had, but in Chicago. She still reminded me that it was chock-full of cheese and was really salty. Music to my ears. Although I knew it would be filling, because of that wait time we ordered some half cheese, half regular garlic bread to share with the table.
The bread came out pretty soon and was just massive. This did not bode well for me saving room for the pizza. I preferred the cheesy end over the regular, but both were quite good. I was also happy that it was truly garlic and cheese sauce on a huge roll, rather than an essentially sauceless pizza (which always tastes good but leaves me wondering why I did not simply order additional pizza).
After the obligatory 45 minutes, my Chicago-style pizza came out and look just like that pizza I used to find five hours from home. But would it taste as good as it looked? In a word: Yes! Now it’s been a couple years since I’ve eaten Giordano’s, but this tasted like I remembered. The pizza was oozing with cheese and required a knife and fork to eat. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I relished in the random bursts of pepperoni that were 8 inches thick and chowed down on the crust as soon as I had cut away the rest of the piece. So this is what heaven is like?
Now I’m sure that if I had eaten at Giordano’s the day before, I could have found differences between the pizzas, but this was neither here nor there. After two pieces, I was one stuffed an happy unvegan. It was certainly a pizza to make Chicago expats happy and certainly one worth eating for anyone in Arizona that wonders what a true Chicago-style pizza tastes like.