As the creator of the Italian Beef Sandwich, Chicago has always had a love for hot giardiniera. Of course, a good giardiniera can be used a number of ways - on a beef or sausage sandwich, baked into a pizza, even spooned over the top of a nice focaccia bread.
Giardiniera is a bit of an art form and different palates look for various things. Some like the crunch of fresh vegetables. Some really enjoy the heat of a spicy mixture. Others just want a giardiniera with a robust flavor.
When compiling our list, we took into account a few things - the traditions of the shops and restaurants, the patrons who love them, and the unique flavors they offer. Hot giardiniera is a time honored tradition passed down in Italian kitchens. If you don't have a Sicilian grandmother to teach you her authentic recipe, any of the offerings on our list will give you the next best thing.
Top Five Best Hot Giardiniera in Chicago
Buona Beef. You can't come up with a list of the best giardiniera in Chicago without spotlighting Buona Beef. This restaurant has a long tradition of serving authentic Italian beef and other dishes. They currently have over 20 locations, plus their giardiniera and other products are available to ship, so it's pretty easy to get your hands on some. Their giardiniera is available in hot and mild, both packed with great flavor and fresh vegetables. The Buona giardiniera contains cauliflower, carrots, celery, olives, and peppers, all blended together with spices to create a wonderful combination to accompany any dish. Whether you prefer a milder taste or a bit of a kick, Buona offers a blend that's perfect for you.
Freddy's Pizza. Freddy's Pizza is a neighborhood favorite that's become a bit of a pilgrimage for people across the city and neighboring suburbs. Their giardiniera is on the mild side, but the flavor is unmistakably authentic. The only downside is that there's no way to order online or find their products in a local store. You'll actually need to go to their brick and mortar deli, located on 16th street in Cicero.
Chickie's. Chickie's is another family owned restaurant. It originated on Pulaski in Chicago but currently resides in Hillside. Their giardiniera is totally unique - made with jalapeno, garlic, and celery. It's not your traditional Italian mix, but if you're in the mood for something different, check them out.
Victoria Hot Giardiniera by J.P. Graziano. The Victoria brand can be found at J.P. Graziano's or through order online. They make it with fresh vegetables and the mix includes Serrano peppers, roasted red peppers, celery, cauliflower, and carrots.
Ricobene's. Ricobene's in Bridgeport is a long standing favorite. The place started as a tiny stand in 1946 and has continued to serve customers across the city with favorites, such as their breaded steak sandwich. Their giardiniera is the authentic Italian mix you'd expect in Chicago - peppers, cauliflower, carrots, and celery. It's fresh made with a good crunch. It's not extremely spicy but it does have a good taste.
Giardiniera is more than a simple garnish. Authentically made with fresh ingredients, a good giardiniera should be delicious in its own right. It's the perfect way to enhance the flavor of a great beef sandwich or authentic meatball.