Giordano’s is a cheese-lover’s dream. With 2 pounds of gooey cheese on its large stuffed deep-dish pizza, the Chicago brand is making waves in Paradise Valley.
If it was up to general manager Christine Friszell, Giordano’s would be a Valley tradition like it is in the Windy City.
“In Chicago, some families go there every Saturday,” Friszell says. “To be able to watch them introduce the pizzas to their friends is incredible. Some people say it’s too much cheese; others say it’s not enough. It’s a decent amount of cheese. There’s a pound of cheese in just about every pizza, and the large has 2 pounds.”
Giordano’s, which also has a restaurant at Arrowhead, was founded in 1974 by immigrant brothers Efren and Joseph Boglio in Chicago, where it is the official pizza of the Cubs. The company expanded into Arizona, thanks to its Cactus League relationship.
Friszell says the pizza at Giordano’s is special because it has a “lid” on it which keeps the flavor in. Each pie begins with lightly buttered dough pressed into the pan. Cheese and zesty sauce complement the premium ingredients and a second layer of savory crust. Each pie is transferred to a rotating oven.
These top-tier ingredients include signature mozzarella cheese that is freshly shredded in-house daily. The pizza sauce is made using special tomatoes grown in a small area in northern California.
“In this company, we will never, ever compromise the quality of our ingredients,” Friszell says. “Our cheese is the most expensive thing in the company. The protein is one of the most expensive things, too. Sauces are shipped from Chicago. Nothing is frozen.
“Sauces and things like that have a seven-day shelf life. We could freeze it, but you would taste the difference. It makes our jobs harder, but it gives it meaning. We’re proud of what we’re doing. I’ll stay with this company forever if this is how they continue to do things.”
All of this takes time, however. Guests should be prepared to wait for their stuffed deep-dish pizzas; they can take up to 45 minutes to bake. The staff ensures the wait doesn’t seem that long, as they repeatedly stop by tables to chit-chat and offer appetizers.
“We joke about it all the time: 45 minutes is a lifetime, especially if you’re hungry,” Friszell says with a laugh. “You have to keep that constant communication. It’s something we had to acclimate to as well. The staff has gotten so good at it.”
Those who can’t wait have options. The stuffed, deep-dish pizzas can be preordered by calling the restaurant when guests are 20 minutes away. Guests can also order other items on the extensive menu when they arrive like salads, sandwiches, thin-crust pizzas or classic Italian dishes.
“On a Friday or Saturday, when there’s a wait, guests can head over to takeout and let them preorder, too. That way, the pizza will be ready by the time a table becomes available,” she says. “On a regular Monday to Thursday, we’re not super, super busy. They can call 20 to 30 minutes out.”
Friszell is proud of the products she sells. “I don’t think there’s a pizza like ours in the country,” she says. “It’s amazing.”