Fun Diego Family has been writing about the best Chicago pizza in San Diego. However, we are the first to admit we have never actually tried this pizza in its hometown. The closest we have come is to Chicago pizza chain Giordano’s. We have tried four Giordano’s locations in Las Vegas and Florida. This is our look at Giordano’s Las Vegas, a family favorite.
The history of Chicago pizza is a hotly debated topic. I will not try and summarize the history but will say that Giordano’s has been around since 1974 and is considered a leader in the stuffed crust style of Chicago pizza. Stuffed crust pizza is a different beast from deep dish pizza.
Location 2 on the strip:
The best description of different Chicago pizza styles I have found comes from this article (which mentions Giordano’s). In San Diego, most Chicago pizza places have deep dish. Two leaders in the stuffed crust pizza category are Chicago Bros Pizzeria and Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria. Lefty’s also serves a deep dish.
The main difference is that a deep dish is basically a very thick pizza. A stuffed crust pizza is bigger. A second layer of dough is added on top of the toppings. Thus, it is more like a pie. At Lefty’s, a deep dish takes 30 minutes to bake. A stuffed crust takes 60 minutes.
We first went to Giordano’s on vacation in Orlando, Florida. Our family liked it so much the kids insisted we go again when they saw Orlando had a second location. Because we were doing Christmas in Orlando, we decided to get Giordano’s takeout for our Christmas Eve meal.
Flash forward to 2019 and Giordano’s has two locations in Las Vegas. This is a restaurant that seems to be expanding, as there are now about 10 Giordano’s outside of Illinois (including Denver, Minneapolis, Detroit, and Ohio). Based on our experience we definitely hope they come to San Diego.
Las Vegas is a popular low-cost trip from San Diego, so we go their frequently. On our recent two-day trip we ended up eating at both Vegas Giordano’s locations.
Our favorite Giordano’s location was the one in Boca Rock on the way to hiking Red Rock Canyon. This is out in the suburbs by a Target store. It looks like your typical chain restaurant, a Chili’s or Applebees. Looks can be deceiving. Giordano’s is in a league of its own.
The main attraction at Giordano’s was the lunch specials. For $9 you get a choice of 6-inch individual deep-dish, sandwich or pasta. This also includes a choice of soup or salad. The only choices for the deep dish are cheese, sausage or pepperoni. This allows them to prepare the pizzas in advance so you don’t have to wait.
We were familiar with the pizza so we also ordered pasta and sandwiches. This included a Chicago Italian Beef sandwich. I am a Philadelphia guy and have always thought cheesesteaks were much better than Italian Beef.
The Giordano’s Italian beef sandwich was the best one I have ever tried. It came with a side of green peppers, giardiniera and au jus. I make my own giardiniera, which is pretty good, but with Giordano’s, I am thinking about adding it to a pizza. Italian beef and giardiniera is a common Chicago pizza topping.
My family also raved about the spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, they liked so many things at Giordano’s they begged to come back for dinner. I was happy to oblige.
We were staying at the Rio, near the strip. Giordano’s has a big showcase location right by Bally’s in the fairly new Grand Bazaar Shops. This is where we went for dinner.
Giordano’s on the Vegas strip is a more lavish affair. The main dining room is on the second story overlooking the water show at the Bellagio. Downstairs, in the open-air market, Giordano has an entire outdoor patio seating location. This reminded me of restaurants in major European cities.
For dinner we sat in the upstairs indoor area. This gave us a great view of the Bellagio show. With no lunch special, prices were higher but still a good value for the strip.
This time we decided to expand our horizons and try the Chicago thin crust pizza. I have never been a fan of Chicago thin crust so this was going out on a limb. But mainly we didn’t want to wait up to an hour for a deep dish to cook.
The Chicago thin crust at Giordano’s was awesome and is causing me to reevaluate my opinion of that pizza style. We ordered a basic pepperoni and their monthly special which happened to be a San Diego style street taco pizza (they also had a Minnesota-style Juicy Lucy hamburger pizza).
The street taco pizza had mozzarella cheese, guacamole salsa, barbacoa beef, pico de gallo and crumbled queso fresco. We ended up eating every bite. Usually we are not fans of chain restaurants, but everything at Giordano’s was very well done. Even a gimmick like street taco pizza.
We also discovered that Giordano’s has frozen deep dish pizza for takeout. For about $18 you can get a frozen pizza. If you buy two, they will throw in a pizza container to keep it cool. For those in Vegas, this is an amazing deal considering that getting those pizzas shipped directly from Giordano’s would be $75.
Fun Diego Family loves to try different regional food scenes. San Diego is a great place to try a variety of food because people bring their recipes from all over the world. Las Vegas is a little different in that many famous regional restaurants and chefs open Vegas branches.
Based on our experience at Giordano’s we can say that our two favorite stuffed crust places in San Diego, Chicago Bros Pizzeria and Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria hold their own on the thick crust pizza front. But now Giordano’s has convinced us to do some more exploring of other Chicago specialties such as Italian Beef, giardiniera, and even Chicago thin crust.