Is it OK to touch? A New Yorker learns Chicago pizza rules

By Tom Conroy | Staff Writer

To fork or not to fork? As a native New Yorker, I always struggle with the moral conundrum of whether or not I should be eating deep dish with my hands or using a
knife and fork. Am I legally allowed to pick up a slice of deep dish pizza? Am I allowed
to fold it? When in Chicago, I want to do as the Chicagoans do, so I went straight to
the source.

The legendary Giordano’s Pizzeria, which has more than 40 locations in the Chicago area, provides a breakdown of pizza-eating styles on their website and what that says about your personality.

Their analysis of the fold-it-over-and-eat-it method says that you are an efficient and clean eater who multitasks at a fast pace. As a native New Yorker who works in media, I could not agree with this more— standing in a crowded pizzeria in Manhattan with no seating while wolfing down a couple of slices can only be accomplished with this method.

The site describes the knife-and-fork method for deep dish pizza as indicative of a patient person who savors the meal. I’m usually at a savage level of hunger when preparing to eat pizza, so I have no time for such formalities.

Brennan Holness, the restaurant manager at the Giordano’s near Millennium Park, 130 E. Randolph St., assuaged my fears when I asked about the proper way to eat
their famous deep dish pizza.“You can do whatever you feel most comfortable doing,” said Holness, a Los Angeles native who has been with Giordano’s since 2016. “I would recommend waiting for it to cool down a little bit before you go to pick it up.”

I knew I could count on a fellow transplant from one of the coasts to guide me in the right direction. Holness seemed perplexed by my use of the term “pie” to describe a pizza, but was not judgmental toward my East Coast lingo. He recommended either a Giordano’s Special (sausage, mushrooms, green peppers and onions) or a Chicago Classic (the same, but with pepperoni instead of sausage), so I guess I’m ordering one of each when I go.

Maybe I can find someone to share them with me first.

While learning about the some of the more prominent deep dish destinations in the city, I was intrigued by their histories and their connections to each other.

For instance, Lou Malnati, whose restaurant now sits at 439 N. Wells St., originally worked at Pizzeria Uno, 29 E. Ohio St. It calls to mind the history of New York pizza—how Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s came from Patsy’s, while Totonno’s came from Lombardi’s, which is considered to be New York’s first pizzeria. Giordano’s was founded by brothers Efren and Joseph Buglio in 1974, when they perfected their Mama Giordano’s Easter Pie into their famous so-called stuffed pizza, an even deeper variation of the traditional deep dish.

Now I have all the tools necessary to assimilate myself to the Windy City. I didn’t want people looking at me like the outsider I am—I just want to eat some pizza.

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