Follow this list and eat your way through the giardiniera universe. From the well-known brands to the hidden Chicago gems, we're on a mission to eat them all. Want to buy your favorite giardiniera online? Unfortunately giardiniera is hard to come by outside of Chicago. We've reached out to each producer to find out how to get them shipped to you. It's a work in progress, so if you don't see your favorite brand, shoot Meaghan an email and we'll get it listed on the site (and in our tummies) asap.
Giardinieras from A-Z (and how to buy 'em online)
Al and Joe's Deli (Franklin Park, Illinois)
This joint is tucked almost under the Mannheim Bridge on Addison Avenue in Franklin Park. It took a little bit of time to find it, but once we did, we fell in love.
The place is a full deli and half grocery/convenient store with a little eating area in the back complete with a gambling arcade. They're known for their subs and it's for a reason. The cheeses and meats are carefully crafted (and they really load them on - you don't get gypped here) and their homemade giardiniera and sandwich hot mix really complete these beauties. Be sure to also add the olive oil and vinegar to whatever you're eating. Some of the favorites there are their Wednesday corned beef special, their hot pastrami sub and the Herbie (capicola, pepperoni, salami and sharp provolone).
The folks are friendly, genuine people who are clearly happy doing what they love. It turns out the owners are friends of our brother's Italian in-laws (small world ~ all these Italian foodies know each other!).
The giardiniera: Crisp, bright flavors. It's on the sweeter side and has soft oregano and heavier garlic notes. The veggies have a strong pickle taste and brings a nice tangy snap to your sandwich. The hot has a pleasant heat intensity of a 4.5 out of 10. Their hot sandwich spread steps the heat up to a 7 out of 10. Grab both while you're there. They also have a tasty mild version if that's your thing.
Location: 10348 Addison Avenue, Franklin Park, IL. It's a little tricky to find the first time around. Just remember it's right under the Mannheim Road bridge. Plenty of parking across the street. If you get turned around in the neighborhood, just give them a call at (847) 678-6788 and they'll kindly walk you through the directions like they did for me.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Al & Joe's
Ingredients: Not listed on bottle, but we believe we identified onions, finely chopped cauliflower, green olives, celery, carrots, hot peppers, red bell pepper. We're thinking this is a soybean oil mix. We've emailed them to ask for more information.
Price: $4.49 for a 16 ounce jar of giardiniera or hot spread.
Where to Buy: Only available at their store in Franklin Park. Well worth the trip. Pick up a bunch of subs and meat while you're there.
Al's Italian Beef (Chicago, Little Italy Neighborhood)
Al's is known as the CREATORS of the great Chicago sandwich - the Italian Beef - and they make it the same today as they did when they first opened in 1938 on Taylor street (soaked in gravy and loaded with sweet or hot peppers).
They make their own giardiniera and while some people love it, others consider it a weak celery garnish. It's mostly oil, celery, capers and dried red pepper flakes -- all chopped up and there's no consistency to the vegetable size. However, we do have to say that the celery gives it a good crunch, which is always important in a giard.
There's a strong anise taste and a slight lemon hint to it. On the spice-o-meter, it's a flatliner, but people appear to like the mild flavor. If you love it, here's how to get it:
Price: $40 for a gallon (some Al's Beefs sell smaller jars - we're working in getting that info for you)
How to Get Al's Beef Giardiniera Sent to You: It was a bit of a process to figure out how to get this giardiniera shipped out, but we figured it out. Just give Terry a call over at the shipping center. Here’s his digits: 630-858-9121. NOTE: You have to buy at least one gallon of giardiniera (it's a lot, but if you love their giardiniera, go for it), which comes in around $40 plus tax and shipping. And, heads up: they only ship within the United States.
Alpine Food Shop (Elmwood Park, Illinois)
Generations of families have been eating at this Elmwood Park spot since the mid 50s. It's an old-school Italian deli (and grocer) that covers all your traditional Italian style subs and sandwiches, plus they make fresh pasta dishes that everyone in the neighborhood goes nuts for.
They're the nicest people and they love talking food. Their homemade giardiniera is worth the trip alone.
The heat comes in at a serious 8 out of 10 and we are huge fans of that. It's one of the few hot mixes that really give you that awesome pierce-your-brain-with-tiny-bolts-of-joy heat (they have mild too, if that's not your thing).
Their veggies give a satisfying crunch. You can tell they use top-of-the-line ingredients when it comes to the oil, vinegar and spices.
When you grab a sandwich (I think lightening will strike you if you don't order a sandwich while you're there), ask them to add giardiniera of course, but also add their oil and vinegar blend. It's a perfect match. Just eat it right away so it doesn't become a soggy sammie.
Ingredients: Hot peppers, soybean oil, celery, bell pepper, cauliflower, carrots, pitted olives, spices, vinegar and salt
Where to Get Alpine Giardiniera: Sadly, they do not sell their giard online. You have to go visit them at 7538 W North Ave. in Elmwood Park. Trust us, it'll be worth every single step you take to get there.
Alpino Hot Pepper Mixes and Relishes
Alpino's Hot Pepper Mix tends to be a favorite for those who like heat, but don't want their mouths to be on fire.
The veggies deliver a solid crunch and include celery, carrots, cauliflower, olives and peppers.
Alpino is on the saltier side of the giardiniera spectrum, but is still a hearty mix that delivers a fine punch. This is also the brand many pizza joins and the Chicago-area Subway restaurants offer.
Their finely chopped hot relish works well on for hotdogs, sausages, pizza, chopped salads, scrambled eggs or anything else you want dump tiny pieces of joy on.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Manufactured by The Puckered Pickle Co.
Ingredients (same on hot and mild bottles): Peppers, 100% pure soybean oil, celery, carrots, cauliflower, olives, herbs and spices.
Price: ~$39 for a 6 pack of 12 ounce jars (check Amazon below for current price)
You can buy Alpino online over at Amazon:
Amici Italian Deli and Market (Westmont, Illinois) - CLOSED
Location: 1149 Fairview Avenue, Westmont, IL. We have yet to visit but we will be soon. If you've had their giardiniera and would like to review it for the site, please shoot us an email!
Update: Steve and another Eat Giardiniera friend let us know that this deli is now closed. If anyone has some of the giard laying around, we'd love to hear your review of it. Curiosity kills us! : )
Antonio's Giardiniera and Muffuletta Olive Salad
The hot mix heat index is in the mid-range and the mild is very calm, but has a pleasant salty and slightly sweet flavor.
Where to buy Antonio's Giardiniera: We've only found these bottles at Tony's Finer Foods (in Chicago and some of its suburbs).
We're on the hunt for how you can get this shipped to you if you're not from around here. We'll post here as soon as we get some answers.
Armand's Pizzeria Giardiniera (Chicago, Elmwood Park Neighborhood)
On the spice level, it brings a decent heat of a 6 out of 10, but it also leaves a sweet note behind, which comes from the gherkin pickles.
Armand's Pizzeria was born in 1956 in Elmwood Park, a 2-square-mile neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago. Neighbors loved this joint for their thin crust pizza and Italian sausages and beefs.
They make their giardiniera from hand, based on the owner's mother's recipe (thanks Grandma Caringella). We've found their hot giardiniera in local Chicago Mariano grocery stores, but we also found a way you can buy it online...
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Exclusively packed for Armand's by V. Formusa Company (DesPlaines, IL)
Ingredients: Soybean oil, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, gherkins, vinegar, herbs, spices, salt, sodium bisulfite, sodium benzoate.
Price: $5 for a 16 ounce bottle
How to Order Armand's Hot Giardiniera Online: We talked with Anthony one of the managing partners and he gave us the scoop they're going to sell bottles over at ChicagoBrickOven.com's online store. They'll also be selling their pizza sauce and marinara gravy if you have a hankering for that (they're pretty tasty too).
Baresi (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
This kind of giardiniera is very different from the Chicago stuff we were bred on. It's eaten as an antipasto and has big chunky veggies with a heavy califlower presence. The veggies are packed in water and vinegar with salt. Where to buy Baresi giardiniera: You might come across this blend in Italian restaurants served as a side dish, as it's typically only available wholesale.
Bari Foods (Chicago, Noble Square Neighborhood)
You can't talk about sandwiches in Chicago without Bari coming up. This little Italian deli/supermarket/epicenter of happiness is close to our hearts. You can find it at 1120 West Grand Ave. in the Noble Square neighborhood (near West Side, just on the other side of all the downtown skyscrapers).
Walk in, go to the back deli and order a big Italian beef, sausage or sub and add their hot giardiniera on whatever you get (they also have super hot [!], medium and mild styles).
Many Chicagoans say this is their favorite giardiniera, hands down. We freaking love it too, but we love it because it lives in its own category.
It has mushrooms, which is a unique addition, but what really sets it apart is its unique blend of spices. Depending on which version you get, your jar will be filled with hot-cut peppers, cut green peppers, carrots, mushrooms, celery, capers, cauliflower, olives and garlic.
It's not a crispy garnish - the veggies tend to be a little on the soggy side, but they're soaked in Bari oil and spice goodness, so it really doesn't matter. Again, it's just in a category all by itself. It's a must-try and the super hot makes a great gift for people who love heat.
The Four Levels of Bari Giardiniera. We keep all 4 versions on hand to match whatever mood we're in:
- Super Hot: It's labeled "Super Hot" for a reason. It brings tears of heat-stroke joy to our eyes. Beware: this heat is intense. Ingredients: habanero and hot-cut peppers, capers, garlic, spices, salt and vegetable oil.
- Hot: For the folks who don't like to be set on fire, you'll prefer the "Hot". It still packs pretty good heat and it won't drown out the taste of whatever you're eating, which can happen when you go the Super Hot route. Ingredients: hot cut peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, olives, mushrooms, garlic, spices, salt and vegetable oil.
- Medium: The medium is a perfect blend. The garlic stands out a lot more in this version. Ingredients: hot cut peppers, cut green peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, olives, mushrooms, garlic, spices, salt and vegetable oil.
- Mild: We love Bari's mild version because the spices pop more and the oil tastes a little sweeter.
- $3.99 for a 16 ounce pint
- $6.99 for a 32 ounce quart
- Super hot is only available in 16 ounce pints and is $6.99
How to Buy Bari Giardiniera Online: There's no official way to order the beloved giardiniera online, BUT we discovered you can place a phone order and they'll ship it to you anywhere in the United States. Call 312-666-0730, give them your order, and they’ll ship it for the cost of the goods plus shipping.
Battaglia Chicago Style
Battaglia is a Chicago food service company and this is their mix. They use soybean oil and vinegar as a base, which is a fine mix.
You'll find the typical celery, carrots, cauliflower and olives in here. It's Ok, but nothing really jumps out at us. The spices they use taste flat. We do like the crunch of the veggies (they're cut pretty small, fyi) and we appreciate the tanginess in the vinegar they use.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Battaglia Distributing Co. (Chicago, IL)
Ingredients: Peppers, soybean oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, vinegar, salt and spices.
Price: $2.99 for a 8 ounce jar.
Where to Buy Battaglia giards: You can't get their bottles online, but you can pick some up at their distribution center at 2500 S. Ashland Ave. You can also find them in some grocery stores and delis around Chicago. We have a voicemail out to them to get the full list of stores.
Bell-View Fancy Hot or Mild Giardiniera
Bell-View is a condiment giant that's been around since 1930 and hails from Pittsburg, PA. They make everything from pickles to honey and horseradish to soup.
They make a mild and hot giardiniera with large chunky carrots, cauliflower, celery, olives and peppers. It's a water and vinegar mix and they add food coloring (Yellow No. 5) and other ingredients to change the color (we really don't like that). We're not the biggest supporters of this brand, but they sell a lot of giardiniera because they're sold at many nationwide stores.
Berkley and Jensen Giardiniera (Traditional Antipasto Style from Greece)
Imported from Greece, this is nothing like spicy Chicago giardiniera. Crack it open and you'll find large pickled carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, peperoncinis and turnips packed in vinegar. This is not our style, but if you're digging it, you can buy it on Amazon:
Berni (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
This is another jar of antipasto that's not anything like Chicago giardiniera. The ingredients are: carrots, turnips, gherkin pickles, fennel, celery, cauliflower, peppers, onions, white wine vinegar, salt, antioxidants E300 and sulphur dioxide. If you want a traditional Italian side dish, you can pick it up over at Amazon.com:
Boscoli Family Giardiniera (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
Their veggie medley includes: cauliflower, carrots, red pepper and celery and they're pickled in a bland mix of water, vinegar and salt. Not something we get excited about but you can pick it up via the Amazon link below. Note: This is not Chicago giardiniera. It's more of a side dish than a garnish.
Bunyons (Cicero, Illinois)
You could see this joint from blocks away thanks to its 19-foot tall Paul Bunyan (with an "a") statue. The hot dog stand is gone, but you can visit the Paul Bunyan statue on Route 66 in Atlanta, Illinois.
While the stand is gone and the statue has been relocated, the giardiniera lives on due to popular demand. People who lean toward olive-heavy giardinieras love Bunyons.
They use a soybean oil base and have the typical olives (heavy), celery, peppers carrots, vinegar, salt and spices, but they also add lupin beans and big pepperoncinis, which makes it unique.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Manufactured for Bunyons Inc. by E. Formella & Sons, Inc.
Ingredients: Celery, peppers, carrots, soybean oil, olives, lupins, pepperoncini, vinegar, salt, spices.
Where You Can Buy Bunyons: So far, we only found it in select Chicago and Schaumburg (IL) Whole Foods, but we're working to see how else we can get it.
Price: $5.39 for a 16 ounce bottle
Buona Beef (Chicagoland)
Can you tell we like Buona Beef's hot giardiniera? Our bottle is nearly gone and it's kinda always like that. We'll pick up a new bottle soon and get a better shot. In the meantime, you should go pick up a jar too. If you like hot mixes with a tad of sweetness, you'll like this kind of giardiniera.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Buona Beef
Ingredients: Peppers, soybean oil, celery, carrots, olives, cauliflower, 1/10 1% sodium benzoate to preserve flavor, natural seasonings and spices.
Price: A 16 ounce bottle costs $5.18 (including tax)
Where to Buy Buona Beef Giardiniera and Peppers: You can purchase their bottles in one of their 14 Chicagoland restaurants. Or if you're really craving some beef and giardiniera, you can buy beef gift packs to be shipped to you (starting at $75). We couldn't find a way to just buy a jar or two their giaridniera itself, but we have a message into corporate to see if we're missing something. Update - just got this back from them:
Thank you for your inquiry, unfortunately we do not ship just giardiniera from our shipping site. Our giardiniera goes best on our Italian Beef and Sausage, so we prefer to package them together.
Calabria Imports (Chicago, Beverly Neighborhood)
They make a tangy mild and hot giardiniera. It's a neighborhood joint with friendly folks behind the counter who love to talk food. Head on down to the South Side and grab their giardiniera with your to-go order.
The other must haves: homemade gnocchi, pepper salad, Italian sausage, Italian beef/sausage combo, muffuletta sandwich and Italian sub.
How to Get Calabria Giardiniera Shipped to Your Home: So far it looks like you can only get it at their actual brick and mortar store. We have a voicemail in with them and will let you know if we hear otherwise (we hope they'll start shipping.
Capri Deli and Pizza (Palatine, Illinois)
Location: 1625 North Rand Road, Palatine. Info coming soon! Here's the digits if you want to give them a call: (847) 359-9106
Capri Italian Food (Riverforest, Illinois)
Our buddy Josh (one of our go-to foodies) is obsessed with Capri - and he's been around the giardiniera block a few times. This picture is actually straight from his fridge. We agree that this is some awesome giardiniera - in fact, it's one of our favorites too.
The heat level is strong at a 7.5 out of 10. They use soybean oil and vinegar, which gives it a deeper flavor. They have a tasty mild version too, but the real gold is in the hot bottle.
Where to Buy Capri's Giardiniera: We talked to Nick at Capri who gave us the sad news you can only get it at their store (7325 West North Avenue in Riverforest, Illinois). We think it's worth the drive if you're looking to test out a new (killer) giardiniera.
Caputo Cheese Market (Chicagoland)
This brand is owned by Caputo Brand products, which is run by the Pasquale Caputo family. We think it's delicious and should be in everyone's fridge.
These giardiniera have a vegetable oil base and their veggies (carrots, peppers, red bell peppers and olives) are on the crispy side of the street. You get that snap you're looking for.
The hot version has a decent heat index - a solid 6.5 out of 10. We also dig their affordable prices.
Note: Don't confuse Caputo's giardiniera with the giardiniera made by Aneglo Caputo's Market (the La Bella Romana brand). Both are super tasty but they're owned by different companies.
- 16 ounce jar of hot or mild = $2.99
- 1 gallon hot or mild = $12.99
How to Get Caputo's Giardiniera in Your Fridge: They can be found at many independent Chicagoland grocery stores and their two cheese markets: 1931 N. 15th Avenue in Melrose Park, IL and 231 East Wisconsin Avenue in Lake Forest, IL. Currently there is no way to purchase them online.
Carm's Beef and Italian Ice (Chicago, Little Italy Neighborhood)
Carm's has been around since 1929. It was originally an Italian ice and grocery store in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood (1057 West Polk Street) and they eventually shifted to fast Italian food (and ices).The rest is delicious history.
It's a good homemade giardiniera with a soft oil and white wine vinegar base. The only vegetables used are carrots, celery and jalepeno peppers.
The heat nods at you rather than yelling at you like other spicier giards. If you're in the 'hood, grab a beef with extra giardiniera and top it off with one of their Italian ices.
How to Get Carm's Giardiniera in Your Fridge: You can't order online but if you stop in, they'll sell it to you by the pint. Heads up: They close for a month around the holidays and don't reopen until late January.
Castella Giardiniera Imported (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
Mostly used as a side antipasto dish, this kind of giardiniera is very different from our favorite Chicago versions. Ingredients include cauliflower, carrots, celery, red bell peppers and salonica peppers. They have a hot version too, which is pretty mild in our opinion. You can buy this traditional giardiniera via Amazon if you like this style:
Cento Giardiniera (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
The family guys famous for their canned tomatoes also have a traditional giardiniera brand. They have a "fancy" mild version and a hot version. Their style is not like Chicago mixes, which is where our hearts are. This kind is not our favorite, but we're committed to listing all the giardinieras so we wanted to include this brand. The Cento brand is used for antipasto side dishes for Italian meals. If that's what you're seeking, you can buy it via the link below.
Central Grocery Italian Olive Salad (New Orleans, Louisiana)
We had to include everyone's favorite New Orleans French Quarter muffuletta on this list. These guys say they created the very first muffuletta sandwich back in 1906 for the Sicilian farmers and fisherman who wanted a lunch that reminded them of the old country.
The ingredients include finely chopped olives, celery, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, capers, parsley, pepperoncini peppers, canola and/or cottonseed oil, olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic and other special spices. Use the below Amazon link to get a taste of NOLA shipped to you:
Centrella Chicago Style Giardiniera
This is another giardiniera that has gherkin pickles in their mix, along with hot peppers, celery, carrots and cauliflower. The veggies have weight to them, but they're not as crunchy as we'd prefer. There's a significant heat to it, but the spices are on the flatter side. If you're looking to add heat to your food, you'll dig this mix, but there's not much complexity here.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Central Grocers, Inc. (Joliet, IL)
Ingredients: Soybean oil, select hot peppers, celery, cauliflower, carrots, gherkins, vinegar, spices, salt and sodium benzoate as preservative.
Price: $2.49 for a 16 ounce pint.
Where to Buy: Right now you can only buy it at Strack and Van Til grocery stores (only in Chicago and Northwestern Indiana).
Chef Earl's Giardiniera Hummus (Chicago area)
We heard about this giardiniera hummus from danekan on reddit. Creamy and tangy hummus with crisp giardiniera veggies throughout. Packs a nice heat, but it’s not too hot. We ate it with toasted pita but agreed it would be great with sausage or spread on a sandwich. It’s delicious! Chicago inspired and made in Wisconsin.
Ingredients: Garbanzo beans, giardiniera (Peppers, 100% soybean oil, celery carrots, cauliflower, olives, herbs, spices) tahini (ground sesame) lemon juice, canola oil, filtered water, sea salt, garlic powder, garlic. Contains: Soy.
Product is all natural, gluten-free and vegan.
Where to Buy Chef Earl's Giardiniera Hummus: Found at Whole Foods and in select Chicagoland grocery stores: find a store near you.
Chicago Johnny's Hot or Mild Giardiniera (DISCONTINUED)
June 2016 Update: Chicago Johnny's is back! See below for where to buy it. August 2015: We're sad to report Josh Downey, creator of Chicago Johnny's, made his last official Chicago Johnny's batch of giardiniera in August 2015. We're sorry to see it go, but it appears Josh is onto a new, exciting project - a Crescent City Cajon food truck. We wish him all the luck in his new adventures! (Thanks for Mark for the low-down. He was likely Chicago Johnny's last customer and scooped up the rest of the hot and mild giardiniera back in August.)
First off, we LOVE that Josh Downey (middle name: John aka "Johnny", the creator of Chicago Johnny's) declares the Chicago Johnny's mission is to enjoy life. He talks about doing what makes you happy and says his giardiniera is there to enhance your meals, let you enjoy your good company and make your life easier.
We knew we liked his giardiniera, but now we just really like this dude for what he stands for. He also posts some great recipes from everything from sweetened condensed milk to Italian sausage and Chicago deep dish pizza. This guy loves food and we love him for that.
So, let's tackle the giardiniera. His peppers, carrots and cauliflower are packed in olive oil and the spices he uses includes red pepper, garlic, onion powder and paprika, which gives it a smokey, tangy bite that we love. He only uses olive oil (no soybean or canola oil!) and it's olive pomace, which is the last pressing of the olives (top quality).
We prefer the hot version, which has a 6.5 out of 10 spice level, but he has a solid mild version. It has some complex layers that sit really well on a hunk of beef or in between a grilled cheese. Just go ahead a get both versions, you'll be happy that way.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Hand-packed by Joseph Antognoli & Company (Chicago, IL)
Ingredients: Peppers, carrots, cauliflower, olive oil, vinegar, red pepper, garlic, onion powder, paprika and other spices
Price: $6.95 for a 16 ounce jar on Amazon, but you can find it for cheaper on his website (and you can get a better deal by buying a 2-pack)
Where to Buy Chicago Johnny's Giardiniera: You can buy his mixes on his website.
Chickie's (Hillside, Illinois)
Chickie's serve up a unique style of giardiniera - they slice jalepenos length-wise, add celery and garlic and soak it in a delicious oil and white vinegar mix. We dig it, but know that it's not your traditional kind of Chicago giardiniera.
It's another fabulous family joint that began in 1962 on the corner of 28th and Pulaski in Chicago. Their Gramp's (Bob) created the hot pepper mix with his buddy Elmer, who owned Carm's Beef and Italian Ice.
(Fun fact: Bob named the restaurant after his wife, Chickie and Elmer named his place after his wife, Carm). They've since moved to Hillside, a suburb just west of Chicago.
Go check them out at 1801 South Wolf Road. They're the nicest folks and it's clear that they all really love what they do. They're famous for their beefs and sausages. We particularly dig their hand-cut fries loaded with the pepper mix.
How to buy Chickie's giardiniera: Sorry, no shipping available, but they'll sell it to you by the pint for $4 at their restaurant.
Chop Shop (Chicago, Wicker Park Neighborhood)
We knew these guys served up some serious butchery and sammies (If you call yourself a Chicago meat-eater and you haven't been here yet, you're basically a vegetarian), but we had no idea they made their own giard until we walked by one day and saw one of their bottles on the counter.
We about-faced, scooped them up and tasted them right away. Their hot mix is tasty but only a 6 out 10 on the spice-level. While the heat isn't as strong as we like it, it comfortably lingers.
The veggies have a decent crunch. They use hot peppers (bell peppers for mild version), celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives and bright pimento peppers.
We dig their soybean oil/vinegar balance, but it's a little on the watery side. The mild is yummy and the heat-sensitive folks will dig it.
Location: 2033 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Chop Shop
Ingredients: Select hot peppers (for hot mix), select bell peppers (for mild mix), soybean oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, pimentos, water, vinegar, slat and spices.
Price: $3 for an 8 ounce jar and $4 for a 16 ounce bottle.
Where to Get Chop House Giardiniera: Right now the only way is to go buy it in their store at 2033 West North Ave., just a little west of the Damen/Milwaukee/North intersection.
Conte Di Savoia (Chicago, University Village/Little Italy Neighborhood)
Conte Di Savoia is another Italian deli and grocer gem in the old Italian neighborhood of Chicago. They're located in the old Little Italy neighborhood, which has since been renamed "University Village" since the University of Illinois at Chicago took over everything over there.
People rave about their sandwiches and meat selections and they put a lot of love into their giardiniera. It has a tang that tells you they have worked for the perfect balance of oil and vinegar and the veggies have a solid crispness to them. They offer extra hot, hot and mild and we say go all out and get the extra hot. It's got the heat, but it's also got the flavor.
Location: 1438 West Taylor Street, Chicago, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Conte Di Savoia
Ingredients: Hot peppers (in extra hot and hot versions), soybean oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Prices: $3.69 for extra hot 16 ounces; $3.99 for hot and mild 16 ounce versions; $5.69 for 32 ounces
Where to Buy Conte Di Savoia: The only way to get it is to stop into their place at 1438 West Taylor Street.
Convito Cafe and Market (Wilmette, Illinois)
You hear a lot of people talk about this place because it's supposed to be a killer restaurant (we still need to try it), but also because there are hard-to-find specialty foods there and their deli is a neighborhood favorite.
You can check them out at 1515 Sheridan Road in Wilmette, IL, a suburb just north of Chicago. Now, about their giard - I've heard a lot of people say they love it and it's what makes many of their sandwiches pop.
So I was excited to try it. I was disappointed when I found out they don't make their own. Instead, they use Kelsey D's - you can score that brand here.
Cosmo's (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
This is another antipasto that we're listing because we really want a comprehensive list of all the giardinieras out there. Again, if you're looking for a traditional antipasto side dish (not the flamboyant Chicago stuff we're crazy about), this could work for you.
It's the basic veggies (onions, cauliflower, carrots, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, yadda yadda yadda) and it's packed in a basic vinegar brine. You can buy it online by clicking below if that's your thing:
D'Masti Catering Inc. (Blue Island, Illinois)
After getting a few requests to find out what's in the giardiniera at D'Masti, we just heard back from them that they don't actually make homemade giardiniera. (We're waiting to hear back what brand they use.) They do however, have some killer homemade potato salad and we hear their muffuletta sandwich is pretty good too. If you're out in Blue Island, stop in and let us know how your trip was. FYI -this is a grab-and-go and catering place. They don't have indoor seating, but they do have a picnic tables outside during the summer.
Location: 11915 South Western Avenue, Blue Island, IL. Info coming soon! Here's the digits if you want to give them a call: (708) 388-0940.
Dalanti Extra Hot, Hot and Mild Giardiniera
They're a popular brand and we like that they use all natural ingredients, which include hot peppers (bell peppers for the mild mix), celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots and pitted green olives.
The veggies lack that crunch, but we dig their soybean oil and vinegar mix and their hot giardiniera has a satisfying heat.
They have extra hot, mild and hot giardiniera, relishes and regular and hot muffuletta salads.
Where to buy Dalanti online: Head on over to their website to place your order.
Dell' Alpe Relishes and Giardinieras
While Dell' Alpe is now a very large player in the giardiniera universe, it all started in Chicago and it's still run by the family who started it (well, 4th generation now). Their family is also known for introducing Americans to imported extra virgin olive oil, so we give them huge props for that.
When it comes to their giardiniera, there's not a lot of veggies in this blend (peppers, celery and olives), but it surprisingly packs good flavor. The hot has a stronger heat, which we're into. It's a good staple to have when you want to spice up a sandwich.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Rubinelli, Inc (Bolingbrook, IL)
Ingredients: Peppers, soybean oil, celery, olives, vinegar, salt, spices, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate.
Price: From $3.49 on Amazon.
Where to Buy Dell' Alpe: Good news, if you can't find it in your grocery store, you can get Dell' Alpe products mailed to your door via Amazon:
DeLallo Hot and Mild Giardinieras (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
This isn't your typical Chicago giard - it's a traditional Italian antipasto that's trying to have some heat. It has large-cut veggies and is very heavy on the carrots and light on the heat. Their hot is mild and their mild is... well, carrots. They have large pepperoncini peppers, which is not our style, but if it's yours, you can buy it online:
DiGiovanni of Italy
Marconi actually makes this brand, but it's not the same as their typical Marconi-labeled giardineras. This one has a stronger vinegar presence and they veggies have an excellent crispiness to them. They add cucumbers to their mix ~ you don't come across that often but it works. We're fans.
This is a good one to have in your giardiniera collection.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by V. Formusa Co.
- Mild: Soybean oil, sweet peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, vinegar, salt, spices, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate and sodium bisulfite.
- Hot: Vegetable oil, hot peppers, carrots, celery, cauliflower, cucumbers, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate and sodium bisulfite.
- 3 pack = $18.00
- 6 pack = $24.00
- 12 pack = $34.00
Ditka's Hot and Mild Giardinieras
Mike Ditka, our bad-a** Chicago Bears Super Bowl Champion Coach, has whipped up some giardiniera for ya. He's also the spokesperson for Al's Beef, so he must know something about peppers, right? Well, seems like he kinda does. Now, the hot
version is actually not very spicy - which surprised us because we thought Ditka would go big; however, it doesn't leave us disappointed either.
It has some depth with the spices it uses and it has a good balance of hot peppers, pimentos, celery, cauliflower, carrots and green olives. Plus it has Da Coach's face on the jar, which just makes us happy. Bears. Giardiniera. Enough said.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Packed exclusively for Ditka Real Foods, Inc.
Ingredients: Select hot peppers (for hot), soybean oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, pimentos, water, vinegar, salt and spices.
Price: $4.99 for a 16 ounce bottle
Divina All Natural Giardiniera (Traditional Antipasto Style from Greece)
If you're looking for antipasto (warning: it's not Chicago giardinieria - this is a traditional Italian side dish), this brand is all natural, which is more than we can say for some of the other traditional brands. Their jars are packed with large cauliflower, carrots, red peppers and celery all pickled in vinegar, water and a sea-salt brine.
Enrico Formella Giardiniera (Countryside, Illinois)
It all started when Enrico Formella immigrated from Sicily to Chicago's South Side around 1900. He brought their family's giardninera recipe with him and tailored it for his spice-loving Chicago audience.
They have since moved from their Chicago location to a suburban location (Countryside, Illinois), but their recipe has never changed.
This can be a decent option in the typical grocery store (they have a wide distribution), but for people who don't like vinegar, they may want to pass on this one.
The hot version is a 6.5 out of 10 on the heat scale. Enrico Formella's offerings include extra hot, hot and mild giardiniera, hot and mild relishes, and hot and mild muffuletta salads.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by E. Formella & Sons (Countryside, IL)
Ingredients: Select hot peppers, soybean oil, celery, water, vinegar, green olives, pimentos, salt and spices.
Price: See Amazon prices listed below. We know that in-store, a 32 ounce jar is $4.99.
You can buy them all online below:
Everything Italian Distributors (Tinley Park, Illinois)
This giardiniera is made by Rubino's Italian Market and Deli and is the same recipe as the bottles with the Rubino's name on them. You can have them shipped to your house if you buy at least 6 jars at a time. Learn more about the giardiniera and the ordering process by checking out Rubino's Italian Imports.
Fat Johnny's Friggin' Hot Giardiniera (Pagliacci)
The heat is immediate and intense. It goes straight to your temples and gives you that "fight of flight" rush. We love the hot stuff and this took even us by surprise.
We call it a solid 9 out of 10 on the heat scale (we have yet to meet a "10", which might just send us to the hospital). We can't even explain the flavor because all you get is the heat. It's hot for the sake of being hot.
Ingredients include hot peppers (a whole lot of them), celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots and green olives. It has a soybean oil and vinegar base with lactic acid. Pagliacci is behind this brand and it's processed and packaged in Chicago. If you have a heat-loving giardiniera fan who likes being challenged with new bottles, this would be a perfect gift.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: A Pagliacci product. Processed and hand-packed by Joseph Antognoli & Co (Chicago, IL)
Ingredients: Hot peppers, soybean oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Price: $4.25 for a 16 ounce jar
Where to Buy Fat Johnny's Online: Just head on over to the Formato Brother's website and load it up in your cart.
(Chicago, Ukrainian Village Neighborhood)
People have been flocking to this deli at 2258 West Erie since 1974. You can pick up everything from gelato to a fresh pan of lasagna and stuffed shells to homemade meatballs, sausages and soups.They also have some great Italian desserts and you should pick up a jar of their pesto while you're there to pick up their giardiniera.
Speaking of giardiniera, they aren't playing games. The carefully crafted oil mix and herbs make this puppy stand out from the herd.
Their hot version only comes in at a 6 out of 10 on the heat scale, but you don't really buy this giardiniera for the heat - you buy it for the complexity of flavors and because it has a perfect, hard-to-find acidity level.
Get ready to stock up your pantries people - once you try it, you're going to use it on everything.
Where to Buy Fiore's Giardiniera: Currently, there's no way to get their giardiniera shipped to you. We're waiting to hear back from the boss to see if they'll start accepting phone orders and do nationwide shipping. Fingers crossed they will! Update coming soon.
- 16 oz Hot & Mild $4.89
- 32 oz Hot $9.98
Fontanini is a Chicago-area family owned and operated meat manufacturing company. They've been around for more than 50 years and we've heard quite a few restaurants use their giardiniera. If you're in the Chicago area, you've probably had their giardiniera before at a local beef and sausage stand.
The mild version is pretty sweet. It's a 0-1 out of 10 on the heat scale, so if you love giardiniera but don't do well with spice, this could be your go-to. There's a pleasant oregano flavor that blends well with their heavy bell pepper mix, however, the veggies are on the softer side.
The hot version has little bit of a kick to it. It's a 5.5 out of 10. The spice hits you right away, but it doesn't linger long. There's a heavier acidity component to this giardiniera than others, which gives it a nice tang (they use lactic acid). Just like the mild, the veggies lack a crunch, but overall this is a fine giardiniera.
Ingredients: Bell peppers, soybean oil, celery, pitted green olives, pimento, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid, may contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Where to Purchase Fontanini Giardiniera: They offer their products to many local and national restaurants, but you can also buy a 16 ounce jar off their consumer-facing website.
Price: A 4-pack of 16 ounce bottles will cost you $19.99.
Fontano's (Chicago area locations)
The original Fontano Subs opened in 1960 at 1058 W. Polk Street in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood, now named University Village because of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) school down the street.
Their subs are super popular, especially their meatball sub (they even have a 3-foot meatball sub challenge!) and their Italian beef. They also add their homemade mayo to many of the subs, which is a huge hit.
Their giardiniera has a soybean oil and vinegar base and we like the base. This is another kind that adds in pimentos along with celery, cauliflower, olives and hot peppers (sweet for the mild version). We could do without the pimentos in this mix but it's still pretty tasty and it's got a large following in this city.
Where to Buy Fontano's Hot or Mild Giardiniera: You can only pick up these jars in their stores. Their small 16 ounce jar is $6.50 and their large (32 ounces) is $10.50. Check out these Fontano's locations:
- 1058 West Polk St (Chicago)
- 332 South Michigan Ave (Chicago)
- 2151 West 95th St (Chicago)
- 9 South Lincoln St (Hinsdale, IL)
- 1767 West Ogden Ave (Naperville, IL)
- 2879 95th St (Naperville, IL)
Formato Brothers Giardiniera
This brand doesn't get a lot of advertising, but it's a solid choice if you're looking for a higher heat bottle.
The tart heat hits you right away and the higher than average acidity gives you a nice bite back, which brings a nice sharpness to this giardiniera. The heat doesn't stay for long, so after you get that nice hit, you're ready for another bite.
The vegetables (celery, bell peppers, carrots, green olives and cauliflower) are on the softer side. If you're looking for a sharp giard, this is perfect.
They also have a mild version if you're looking for a lighter giardiniera that has a higher acidity and a stronger vinegar taste. This was a new one for us and we'll certainly be working it into our rotation. They also have a hot and mild pepper spread.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Formato Brothers
Ingredients: Hot peppers, soybean oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Price: $5.95 for a 16 ounce jar of giardiniera or pepper spread.
Where to Buy Formato Brothers Giardinieras: They have an online store on their website. We ordered from them and had a great experience.
Fox's Pizza (Chicago, Oak Lawn and Orland Park, Illinois)
This is one of our favorite thin crust pizza places in the world. They have a great sausage and giardiniera pizza, but they don't make their own in-house, despite some online reviews we came across that said otherwise.
They use Enrico Formella, which packs a consistent heat with a nice crunch and good dose of spice so the oil is delicious even on its own.
If you're serious about pizza and you like giard, you must get a giardiniera pizza from Fox's.
They have three locations, but we recommend you go to the original Beverly location on Western Ave at 99th street - it's the best:
- 9956 South Western Ave in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago
- 9240 Cicero Avenue in Oak Lawn, Illinois
- 9655 143rd Street in Orland Park, Illinois
How to buy Fox's Pizza giardiniera: You can order it for pick up by the pint or half pint at Fox's or you can buy Enrico Formella online
Frangella Italian Market (Palos Park, Illinois)
Info coming soon. In the meantime, go check them out at 11925 South 80th Avenue in Palos Park, IL!
Frank's Deli (River Forest, Illinois)
Their hot giardiniera is not as hot as others (a 5 out of 10), but there's a lot of flavor into that little bottle. They also have an extra hot if you're looking for more heat (a 7 out of 10). We like the mix of olive and soybean oil, which gives it a more robust flavor. We also like that there are whole (small) green olives in it. It's not very crunchy, but the tanginess of the vinegar makes up for the lack of crunch.
A friend told us that the deli owners also own the pizza place next door (Bertolli's River Pizza) so the best way to have this giardinera is to order it on one of their (fantastic) thin crust pizzas. Too bad we didn't know this while we were there a few weeks ago - a good excuse for us to go back ASAP!
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Frank's Deli
Ingredients: Peppers, Celery, Soybean & Olive Oil, Carrots, Cauliflower, Olives, Pimentos, Water, Vinegar, Salt & Spices.
Price: 16 oz Hot or Mild is $4.89
Where to Purchase It: You can go try to giardiniera for yourself - just head on over to 7971 Lake Street in River Forest, Illinois.
Frankie's Deli (Lombard, Illinois)
Frankie's is a bright gem shinning amongst the bland sea of big national chains dotting the Western suburbs of Chicago. It's literally next to a big old mall and behind a Carson Pirie Scott.
This place has been around since the 60s and it's all heart. It's a go-to for homemade Italian sausages and beefs, their Italian subs are something really special, and we hear that their "Wednesday lasagnas" are out of this world.
Bonus: they have an amazing wine selection and every kind of specialty Italian food in a jar you can imagine.
Their giardiniera comes in mild and they have a spicy submarine topping that is a hot, finely chopped relish. The mild giardiniera is a fine blend but we like the bite back in their spicy sub topping.
Location: 4 Convenience Center, Lombard IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Frankie's Deli
Ingredients: Hot peppers (for extra hot and hot versions), soybean oil, celery, bell peppers (main ingredient in mild version), cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Prices: $3.89 for 16 ounce bottles; $5.99 for 32 ounce jars
Where to Buy Frankie's Deli Giardiniera and Spicy Submarine Topping: You'll have to go to their store at 4 Convenience Center in Lombard.
Freddy's Pizza (Cicero, Illinois)
This pizza joint is just west of the city at 1600 South 61st Avenue in Cicero, Illinois. It's a favorite among cops and cabbies, which you know is always a good sign. Freddy's is so much more than a pizza place.
It's a deli, a butcher shop, a bakery, a grocer, a gelato shop, it's a slice of freaking heaven in Cicero, that's what it is.
There are sausages hanging from the ceiling, loads of fresh pasta dishes, homemade Italian ice and gelato. You just have to go and eat it all. While you're there, pick up their giardiniera and their homemade pasta sauce (gravy, we know).
For their giardiniera, they use two kinds of hot peppers that give the mix a heat depth we appreciated, although the heat was not off the charts - a 7 out of a 10. We also like their hot relish spread, which I think is their giardiniera diced up super tiny until it's a little mushy (in the best mushy, spready way).
Location: 1600 South 61st Avenue, Cicero, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Freddy's Foods
- Giardiniera and Relish: Peppers, celery, soybean oil, cauliflower, carrots, olives, vinegar, water, salt and spices.
- Muffuletta Salad: Olives, celery, soybean oil, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, vinegar, water, salt and spices.
- Hot or Mild Giardiniera = $3.29/pint
- Hot or Mild Giardiniera Relish = $3.89/pint
- Hot or Mild Muffuletta Salad = $3.89/pint
Where to Buy Freddy's Giardiniera: Sorry folks, they don't ship it. You gotta get on down to Cicero and have them grab a jar off the shelf for you. It's a great excuse to go load up on some phenomenal food.
Ghost Italian-American Hot Giardiniera
This is not Chicago giardiniera - it's something else and we're not exactly sure what. They have a bunch of veggies and then they add in bhut jolokia chili (aka chili made from ghost peppers, which many believe have health benefits), white vinegar and canola oil. It'll be a unique addition to your giardiniera collection. You can buy it online here:
Gio's Cafe & Deli (Chicago, Bridgeport Neighborhood)
We stumbled on this little gem nestled on a residential street in the Bridgeport neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. It’s a deli with a cafe in the middle of it. The red and white checkered table cloths add to the charm of this little corner joint.
Fresh sausage and pastas (as well as frozen) are available. At the deli you can load up on imported cheeses, olives and meats. The cafe menu is pretty extensive (and affordable). They have everything from Italian sandwiches to tortiglioni carbonara and homemade tiramisu for dessert.
They sell their own giardiniera (made off premises) and it's delicious. It's loaded with crunchy veggies and they use a nice mix of vinegar and pure olive oil, which adds to the distinctive rich flavor. The veggies are chunky-cut and it has whole green olives. If you love olives, you’ll dig this one. The heat level is a bit hotter than others (which we like) but not unbearably hot. We give it a 7.5 out of 10 on the heat scale.
Location: 2724 South Lowe Avenue, Chicago, IL. Phone: (312) 225-6368
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Gio’s Cafe & Deli
Ingredients: Olives, red peppers, olive oil, jalepeño peppers (hot only), celery, carrots, green peppers and spices.
Prices: $3.95 for a 16 ounce jar, $7.95 for a 32 ounce jar (hot or mild)
Where to buy Gio’s: You can pick it up when you dine there. Sadly, they do not ship.
Glorioso's Italian Market and Deli
They have hot and mild giards, muffulettas, relishes and a hot and spicy pizza topping, among other antipasti and olive selections.
They use soybean oil, hot peppers (including sport peppers), celery, cauliflower, carrots, vinegar, olives and spices.Their mild version has the same veggies but uses bell peppers instead of hot ones.
We're usually not huge fans when sport peppers are added, but this mix really works and it's because they've pickled and spiced it to perfection. The one criticism: we wish the veggies had more of a snap.
The hot mix has a heat level of 6.5 out of 10, and the heat comes a few seconds after you take a bit but then it softly floats away. You're left really wanting another bite. We say stick to the hot version, which has a sweet side to it.
The mild mix is decent - we like the acidity and saltiness, but the hot mix just blows it away with it's sweet and wonderful heat waves. The Hot & Spicy Pizza Topping was tasty and had a strong olive flavor. We just love the got giardiniera so much, we would up putting that on our pizza instead of the actual pizza topping mix; however this is a good option for people who crave olives.
Bonus: The people that work there are awesome. I came in from Chicago, about 90 miles from Milwaukee. I knew I could buy it online (see below), but I wanted to get a feel for the store. I arrived a minute after they closed their doors and I (annoyingly) called them asking if there's anyway they could let me in to buy a jar or two of giardiniera. They were super friendly and let me in. We ended up chatting about how awesome giardiniera is and how sad it is that the world doesn't know about it.
I love their passion for this under-appreciated garnish. And I love their giardiniera. Give it a taste. If you're in Milwaukee for any reason, stop by to pick up a sammy at their deli and some bottles of this giard gold: 1011 East Brady Street, Milwaukee, WI.
Location: 1011 East Brady Street, Milwaukee, WI
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Glorioso's Italian Market
- Giardinieras and relishes: hot peppers (for hot mix), bell peppers (for mild mix), celery, soybean oil, cauliflower, carrots, water, vinegar, olives, salt and spices.
- Hot and Spicy Pizza Topping: Hot peppers, olives, soybean oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, chopped garlic, water, vinegar, salt and spices.
- Hot and Mild Muffulettas: Olives, celery, soybean oil, hot peppers (in hot), carrots, garlic, water, vinegar, salt and spices.
- Giardinieras: $6.39 for 16 ounces; $8.69 for 32 ounces and $25.89 for a gallon
- Relishes and Hot and Spicy Pizza Topping: $5.29 for a 16 ounce bottle
- Muffulettas: $6.69 for a 16 ounce
How to buy Glorioso's giardiniera, muffulettas, relishes and hot pizza topping online: Just head on over to their online store. Tell them EatGiardiniera.com sent you. We really want to be their BFFs because we love them so.
IL Primo Giardiniera
This is a very popular brand of giardiniera and it's for a reason - it's straight up yummy town. The vegetable mix includes cauliflower, carrots, celery, pimentos, hot and mild peppers (depending on the mix) and olives, but then they add onions, which is unique. They use a soybean oil and vinegar mix. You can find this brand on many grocery store shelves around the country, or you can ship it straight to your home via Amazon:
Italia Imports Inc. (Orland Park and New Lenox, Illinois)
They make their own giardiniera and have it bottled off-site, like many of these small delis do.
We haven't tried it yet and we tried to call for information on the ingredients used but we were told they were busy and to call back in a few days.
Instead of playing phone tag, we'll go grab a bottle next time we're in the south suburbs and we'll let you know what we think.
- 11351 West 143rd Street, Orland Park, IL
- 13150 West Lincoln Highway, Suite 5, New Lenox, IL
Jay's Italian Beef and Sausage (Wicker Park, Harwood Heights and Schiller Park, Illinois)
The oil has clean, light flavor and there's a slight wisp of vinegar. Those who don't like heavy vinegar giards will like this one. It has red pepper flakes, but it's not too spicy.
It adds a bright burst of flavor to your beef or sausage (or fries - we totally loaded the fries with their giardiniera and we're not going to apologize for it.). It's not your typical Chicago-style giard, but we like their style.
Where to Get Jay's Homemade Giardiniera: The only way to get it is by ordering a big side of it at one of their beef stands (2255 W. North Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood, 4418 North Narragansett Avenue in Harwood Heights or 9732 Irving Park Road, Schiller Park)
Joe's Taylor Street Sub Shop (Chicago, Tri-Taylor Neighborhood)
Sadly, this shop is closed. We're on the hunt to see if their giardiniera is still floating around somewhere. We'll update you as soon as we get any word.
Johnnie's (Elmwood Park, Illinois)
This North Ave (7500 W. North) Italian sausage and beef stand has lines wrapped around the building in the summer.
Their spicy sausages are a hit and we dig their fries. Their giardiniera is celery-heavy, low on the spic-o-meter, and heavy on the vinegar, but that's why some people like it.
If you're driving down North Ave., stop by and give it a taste.
How to Get Johnnie's giardiniera: They don't sell their giard in bottles, but you can pick up a large side of it for a few bucks at their counter.
Joseph's Finest Meats (Chicago, Dunning Neighborhood)
This butcher and grocery store lives in the Dunning neighborhood of Chicago. It's a true neighborhood butcher that takes a lot of pride in what they do. The place is known for their homemade Italian roast beef, their prime and top choice beef (right through the deli you can see huge cuts of beef dry aging in the back) and a massive selection of fresh sausages (from Polish to Sheboygan style bratwurst to breakfast sausages).
They aren't a restaurant - there's no menu and there's no place to sit and eat -- but they will make you a sandwich if it's not busy and you know what you want. We had heard amazing reviews on Yelp about their sammies, so we got an Italian sub with hot giardiniera (our buddy gave it 2 very happy thumbs up) and the vegetarian wasn't sure what to get (there's no real menu), so she was just going to pass on getting anything. The man behind the counter, who we think is the owner, was super kind and although they didn't have a veggie sandwich, he surprised her with a big honkin caciocavalto cheese sandwich free on the house. Some of the best darn cheese we've eaten in a long time. The bread was also a winner. Chewy inside with a crunchy crust. We suspect it came from the bakery next door.
OK, enough with us smoozing about this place (we really dug it, can you tell?)... here's the scoop on their giardiniera: Around 2010, they started making, hand-cutting and packing their own giardiniera. It's all done in-house and it's straight-up mouthwatering. It immediately became one of our favorites. Good thing we picked up 4 bottles.
It's made with extra virgin olive oil (only - no soybean or vegetable oil), hot peppers, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots and pitted green olives. It has a pronounced olive flavor that balances very nicely with the celery notes (we're thinking there's some celery seed in there too). It's bright, light and delicious. The heat comes in at a decent 6.5/10. They also have a mild giard if you're looking for less heat.
If you want to be happy, just go there, get some cuts of beef, a few sausages and a bunch of bottles of giardiniera. They also have homemade eggplant salads (regular, Calabrese and Sicilian styles) and a serious hot pepper mix.
Location: 7101 West Addison Street, Chicago
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Joseph's Finest Meats
Ingredients: Hot peppers (in hot mix), olive oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt and lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Price: $4.29 for a 16 ounce jar
Where to Buy This Giardiniera from the Gods: They don't have an online shop. You need to roll on down to their store at 7101 West Addison. About 4-5 miles west of the Kennedy expressway. Go there. Today. Now.
J.P. Graziano's (Chicago, West Loop Neighborhood)
This joint at 901 West Randolph Street is the real deal and one of our favorite places for a sandwich and giardiniera. They're constantly bringing in top of the line speciality foods and their homemade everything (sammies, soups, giardinieria, meats and more) are always amazing.
The folks working there treat everyone who walks through the door like family. There's more info about J.P. Graziano's under "Victoria Brand" below - which is the name they sell their delicious giardiniera under.
Kelsey D's Mild and Hot Giardiniera
Kelsey Digman runs this company from Arizona, but she has Chicago roots and she knows exactly what she's doing. Her family helps her run the business out of the northern suburbs of Chicago.
They're the official giardiniera of the Chicago White Sox's park ~ now that's a RAD title and well deserved!
Her blend is a soybean oil base with the typical carrots, celery and cauliflower, cut just right. This is another kind that uses gherkins and she also added red and green peppers. It's a nice sweet, salty and tangy mix. They don't use any olives in their giardiniera, which is pretty rare, but it makes for a tasty, celery and gherkin-focused giard. If you're really craving olives, go for their muffaletta, which is finely chopped, garlicy and delicious.
The hot version adds serranos for a heat that's a 5 out of 10 - a little on the milder side, but a good staple to have in the refrigerator. But giardiniera is not all about heat, the taste has to be there. And they are a clear winner in that department.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: V. Formusa Company (DesPlains, IL)
- Hot giardiniera: Soybean oil, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, gherkins, vinegar, lactic acid, herbs, spices, salt, sodium bisulfite.
- Mild giardiniera: Soybean oil, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, gherkins, vinegar, lactic acid, herbs, spices, salt, sodium bisulfite.
- Hot muffaletta: Soybean oil, green bell peppers, olives, celery, carrots, red bell peppers, cauliflower, garlic, onion, vinegar, lactic acid, herbs, spices, salt, calcium chloride, sodium bisulfate and sodium benzoate.
Price: A 16 ounce jar goes for $4.59 on metcalfe's online store.
Where you can buy Kelsey D's: Good news, you can buy their hot and mild giardiniera through Metcalfe's online store. They're also in a bunch of grocery stores:
- Sam's Club (find a location near you here)
- Brookhaven Marketplace grocer stores (Chicago suburb locations)
- Garden Fresh Market (Chicago suburbs)
- Heinen's grocery stores (Cleveland area and Northern Chicago suburbs)
- Joe Caputo and Sons (locations around the Chicago suburbs)
- Mariano's (many Chicago area locations)
- Potash Markets (downtown Chicago and Lincoln Park)
- Sentry (Wisconsin)
- Sunset Foods (Northern Chicago suburbs)
- Venezia's Pizza (Arizona)
- Walt's Food Centers (Illinois)
Krinos Giardiniera Imported (Traditional Antipasto Style from Greece)
Another greek antipasto, this is a relative of Chicago style peppers, but don't expect any spice here. You'll find this brand has large, chunky veggies (red bell peppers, celery, carrots, cucumbers and cauliflower) soaked in water, salt, sodium metabisultfite and vinegar. You'd eat this as a side dish, not as a garnish.
L'Appetito Deli and Cafe (Chicago: RiverNorth, Downtown & Lakeview Neighborhood)
When we ask folks what their favorite giardinieras are, often we'll get the name of a deli back at us with people saying I have no idea what it is, but it's awesome. L'Appetito's name has been popping up a lot, so we looked into it. Turns out their don't make their own giardiniera, but they use a fantastic brand - DiGiovanni of Italy, which is available online.
La Bella Romana (by Angelo Caputo's Markets)
This is brand is produced and owned by Angelo Caputo's Markets, which has 8 Chicagoload locations. We love that the Caputo's grocery store has a whole aisle dedicated to giardiniera. I mean, this is the first time we ever saw the word "giardniera" on one of those grocery aisle signs that hang from the ceiling ~ how sweet is that?!
Their giardinieras have an vegetable oil and vinegar base. They use serrano peppers, sport peppers, green and red bell peppers, olives, celery, pimentos, carrots and cauliflower.
We like the hot version, which has a respectable 7 out of 10 heat level. The mild version doesn't include the hot peppers, but people rave about it for it's briney flavor, which we also respect. You can't go wrong here, folks.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed exclusively by Angelo Caputo's Fresh Markets
Ingredients: Soybean oil, peppers, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, vinegar, salt, spices, sodium benzoate and sodium bisulfite.
Price: $3.19 for a pint and $3.99 for a quart of their giardiniera. Their relish comes in a pint and is $1.99
Where to Buy La Bella Romana (Online and in Store): You can pick up Caputo Fresh Market's La Bella Romana giardiniera at any of their Chicago-area grocery stores or you can sign up here and order through their online market to get it shipped to your door.
We randomly came across this baby when we were doing some online research. It's made by Dell' Alpe and they've got extra hot, hot and mild.
We suggest going for the hot version, as we found that the extra hot mix lost some flavor. We think they were trying to go to big for heat, which comes in at a respectable 7.5 out of 10.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: A product of Dell' Alpe. Distributed by Rubinelli, Inc. (Bolingbrook, IL)
Ingredients: Peppers, soybean oil, celery, carrots, cauliflower, olives, vinegar, salt and spice.
Price: $6.99 online for a pint
Hot to Get Liguria Giardiniera onto Your Next Sandwich: This is the only website we were able to buy it from.
Lo-Lo's Pizza and Sub Shop (Elmwood Park, Illinois)
Location: 7501 West Diversey Avenue, Elmwood Park. Phone: (708) 453-2209
Lo-Lo's Pizza and Subs is nested in a quiet neighborhood in Elmwood Park.
Turns out they don't make their own giardiniera (they use MC Foods for that), but the place was adorable and full with happy sub and pizza eaters. If you're looking for something tasty and in the neighborhood, stop on buy and load up.
Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
This place is known for their Chicago deep dish pizza, but they have a wide menu which also includes beef, sausages and, of course, giardiniera. You can also get a giardiniera deep dish pizza, which we totally recommend you get if you find yourself at one of their restaurants.
We often hear people say they love their giardiniera. Turns out they don't make it in house. They couldn't tell us exactly where they get it from, but they did share this with us:
"Thank you for contacting Lou Malnati's. I am not able to share the exact brand that we use in the pizzerias however I did ask our purchasing manager which brand would be most comparable and he suggested Marconi."
We have heard from former employees that they use Sysco brand giardiniera. We have a message in with Sysco to learn more about their giardiniera mix and whether they use a third party or if they make their own brand.
Louie's Seasoning (Johnston City, Illinois)
We just heard about this kind of giardiniera and we're hoping to try it soon.
If you've already had it and know you like it, there's good news - you can buy it online and there are NO shipping charges!
Where to Buy Louie's Seasoning Online (Free Shipping!):
- Hot Giardiniera, 3-pack ($23.75)
- Mild Giardiniera, 3-pack ($23.75)
- Buy Louie's Muffuletta, 3-pack ($23.75)
Lovera's Garden Mix (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
This antipasto has the typical cauliflower, carrots, onions, red bell peppers, garlic, sodium bisulfate, calcium chloride and spices, but it adds broccoli, jalepeno peppers and baby corn, which is unique to the traditional antipasto giardiniera.
It's packed in a water and vinegar blend. Heads up that this is nothing like the Chicago giardinieras that are dear to our hearts at EatGiardiniera.com. If you want to try this antipasto, you can get it on Amazon:
Lu Style Giardiniera (Colorado)
This ain't your Gramp's giardiniera. The recipe started in the Chicago area and has been passed on through family and friends to become what it is today, a healthier, less oily approach to Chicago style giardiniera.
The vegetables are organic, hand-chopped and come from local Colorado farms. They include jalepenos, celery, cauliflower, carrots and onions.
It has an olive oil base and instead of white or red wine vinegar, they use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, which has a ton of health benefits. They also add garlic, oregeno and sea salt (and perhaps some other spices) to the mix.
P.S. We love that their one-eyed dog Zeke is their mascot! We are digging this blend. The raw, bright, small-chopped veggies are delicious and the apple cider vinegar and fresh spices she uses give it a satisfying tang.
Where to Buy Lu Style Giardiniera Online: You can find Lu Style in Local First Grocer Co-op (Manitou Springs, CO) Good Karma Café (Manitou Springs, CO), Mountain Mama Natural Foods (Colorado Springs, CO) and coming soon to Colorado-area famers markets or if you're not local, you can buy straight through their website.
V. Formusa Co. is a family-run business that's produced the Marconi brand for 75 years on Chicago's near west side (710 W. Grand Avenue). They recently relocated to a new facility in Des Plaines, Illinois.
It's a widely available giaridniera that you can find in most grocery stores. If you're needing to grab a jar of giard and don't have time to make a stop at your favorite local deli, Marconi is a great option.
We love that they've made it big but they're still a family owned and operated company since 1898. They have a lot of soul. They're really a big player in the giardiniera game because they've been working hard at it for a long time.
Marconi's Story: Vincent Formusa started the company right after he came to the states from Italy. His children and his greatchildren now run the business. Vincent was originally a jeweler and also worked as a trans Atlantic immigration agent to help more people immigrate to the U.S.
As more Italians immigrated to his neighborhood in Chicago, he saw the need for having more Italian products around. He used his experience as an immigration agent to start importing olive oil, meat, cheese and Italian produce canned in oil (an old Sicilian method of canning veggies). That canned produce made it to Chicago and eventually grew in the giardiniera we know today.
Vincent also helped pioneer the kinds of oils that are used in giardiniera because after the First World War, olive oil become hard to come by, so he worked with his son to perfect blending different types of cooking oils into the mix.
From Vincent Forusa's Great Grandson (who works for Marconi): "...I personally take a lot of pride in this company and am so fortunate to be a part of it. I consider everyone I work with to be my extended family, and when other people recognize our products we all get great joy and satisfaction out of that."
The Giardiniera: Their giardiniera has hot peppers (in the hot version), carrots, cauliflower, celery and gherkin pickles, but it passes on the olives, which makes it a favorite for non-olive folks. This is the taste many Chicagoans were raised on. It doesn't have a significant heat to it (the hot has a 4.5/10 kick to it), but the pickles and vinegar give it a sweeter, tangier flavor that a lot of people dig, including us.
They have a couple versions: Hot, Medium, Mild and Hot Giardiniera Relish. We say stick with the Chicago-style hot version, which is their best selling product along with their mild, which is also pretty tasty.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Packed by V. Formusa Co.
- Mild: Soybean oil, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, gherkins, vinegar, spices, salt, sodium benzoate and sodium bisulfite.
- Medium: Soybean oil, peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, gherkins, vinegar, spices, salt, sodium bisulfate as a preservative.
- Hot: Soybean oil, hot peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, gherkins, spices, vinegar, salt, sodium benzoate and sodium bisulfate.
- Relish: Canola and/or soybean oil, hot peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, gherkinds, vinegar, spices, salt and sodium bisulfate.
Prices: See Amazon below for prices on individual bottles, or you can buy bundles on their website:
- 3 pack = $18.00
- 6 pack = $24.00
- 12 pack = $34.00
Where to Buy Online: Many of their giardinieras are available individually on Amazon. If you don't see your favorite Marconi kind there, you can check out their website for 3, 6 or 12-pack bundling options.
MarDona Mild/Hot Giardinieras and Muffulettas
MarDona is a New York City company that's known for specialty Italian products. They make their own giardiniera and it's decent. They do a soybean oil and extra virgin olive oil mix, which if you know this site, you know we like that. Their veggies (celery, carrots, olives, cauliflower, pimentos) aren't as crispy as we prefer, but the spice mix and wine vinegar saves it. They sell it on Amazon if you want to try it out:
This festive looking bottle is full of peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower and olives. The veggies have a little crunch on the outside, but then the insides are soft. Not that appealing.
The hot version has a "nasaly" heat of 6 out of 10. The punch doesn't really hit your mouth, but you feel it in the back of your nose. They have a mild version that has the same ingredients as the hot, just no hot peppers.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Marca's Food Distributors (Franklin Park, IL)
Ingredients: Peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, soybean oil, olives, vinegar, salt, spices and sodium benzoate as preservative.
Price: $3.29 for a 16 ounce bottle of giardiniera
Where to Buy Mareli Giardiniera: We found this at the Caputo's grocery store and haven't found any way to buy it online. We have a call into Marca's Food Distributors (Franklin Park, Illinois), who distributes it and will let you know if we find out any more information.
Martino's Italian Beef In-House Giardiniera (Milwaukee, WI)
We follow what the local folks tell us to do, so we happily stopped in.
It was a snowy night and this place was hopping with families chowing down together, tow-truck drivers stopping in for a quick to-go beef, and this crazy lady asking for a large to-go box of giardiniera (I may have also gotten a giardiniera-loaded grilled cheese and a cheeseburger patty for my dog co-pilot).
Their in-house giardiniera is just a 5 out of 10 on the spice level, but it has sweet and salty notes that give it a nice tangy flavor. This is another place that adds sport peppers to their mix and we suspect they dump in a lot of the vinegar from those sport peppers, which must give it that back-of-the-mouth tang we liked.
I'm glad we stopped by because this giardiniera is notable, especially in a region like Southeastern Wisconsin where it's not widely available (well, compared to Chicago). Their place is a straight shot right off the 94 expressway and it's right next to the Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport - so find a way to have a layover and go try this giardiniera for yourself.
How to Get Martino's Giardiniera: The only way to experience it is to head on up to their Milwaukee restaurant. They'll sell you giardiniera to go. The large container was $4.50. Heads up: it was a little leaky, but that just meant my car smelled better on the ride home.
Max's Italian Beef (Chicago, West Rogers Park Neighborhood)
This place is now closed and it used to serve up a very unique bright red giardiniera. We don't think there's any way to get it anymore, but we're still researching that. We'll post an update as soon as we get any word.
Mezzetta Chicago Style Giardinieras
Their mixes include celery, green and red bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower and olives in a extra virgin olive oil and canola mix.
The hot version includes serrano peppers and brings a heat level of 6.5 out of 10.
This company also offers traditional Italian antipasto style giardinieras if you want to check out those mixes, which is very different from their (better) Chicago hot and mild versions.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: G.L. Mezzeta, Inc. (Napa Valley, CA)
Ingredients: Canola oil, serrano peppers, extra virgin olive oil, celery, cauliflower, green bell peppers, carrots, red bell peppers, olives, white wine vinegar, salt, spices, calcium chloride.
Price: $4.26 for a pint (16 ounces).
Miceli's Deli and Food Mart (Chicago, Heart of Chicago Neighborhood)
Location: 2448 South Oakley Avenue, Chicago, IL. (773) 847-6873.
This is a lovely deli and grocery store in The Heart of Chicago (technically Pilsen). They're know as much for their bright, sunny dispositions as they are for their delicious spumoni and canolis (some say the best in the city), meatball subs, ciabatta and focaccia con pollo, linguine, clam sauce and sausage and peppers.
They don't make their own giardiniera - but they use Orlando Greco, which is just fine with us. If you've never been the The Heart of Chicago, it's time to explore this awesome little stretch of old-school Italian restaurants and delis. We suggest Miceli's for a lunch-hour sandwich and nearby Bacchanalia for dinner and some vino. Just take a nap in your car between meals :).
Be sure to check their hours before you head down. They tend to close early and they're not open on Sundays.
|Monday||8:30 am - 4:30 pm|
|Tuesday||8:30 am - 4:30 pm|
|Wednesday||8:30 am - 4:30 pm|
|Thursday||8:30 am - 4:30 pm|
|Friday||8:30 am - 4:30 pm|
|Saturday||8:30 am - 3:00 pm|
Michael Angelo's Ahh That's Italian
They use just the right amount of vinegar. All their giardinieras are Kosher. Our favorite is the hot, but we always have the extra hot hanging around when we feel like sweating a bit.
Here's the breakdown on their different blends - they have traditional Chicago giardinieras, muffulettas and spreads:
- Extra Hot: It doesn't play around, so us spice heads love it. Ingredients: hot peppers, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt and lactic acid.
- Hot: The perfect blend, in our opinion. Ingredients: hot peppers, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt and lactic acid.
- Mild: Good taste and adds a nice acidity factor to any sandwich. Ingredients: bell peppers, celery, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt and lactic acid.
How to Buy Michael Angelo's Giardiniera Online: Order all their giardinieras and their other delicious garnish's via their online store. Sorry Texans, for some reason they don't ship to you.
Mile High Giardiniera (Denver, Colorado)
This giardiniera started out in 2015 by Chicago expats who want to spread the "g" love in the Mile High region and beyond (they also sell jars in South Dakota and South Carolina).
Off the bat, the logo and design jump out at us. A little retro, a little modern. The jars have a laid back, "hanging out at a baseball game" kinda vibe that we totally dig.
Now, let's talk about the important stuff here - the taste. This is not a typical Chicago style giardiniera, but we're liking where they're going. In fact, it's something we're starting to see more of out of Colorado. Their giard features:
- finely chopped veggies (essentially minced), on the soft side. Crunch is not really a factor or goal here.
- more of a relish or salsa mix consistency. It's not oil heavy and it tastes fresher and lighter because of that.
- apple cider vinegar is used (as is regular vinegar)
- onion is included (yellow in this case - gives it sweet edge)
The mild has very little heat. They have some jalepenos in there, but the spice factor is barely there. It is on the sweet side and has a delightful garlic presence to it. Those looking for a spread with a soft sweetness and a vinegary bite will like this. The celery makes some strong notes here too.
On the hot mix, it still holds on to some sweet notes, but the heat level has been kicked up a lot from the mild version. They popped in jalepenos, serranos and habaneros. The heat doesn't hit you for a second or two, but it's a pleasant heat that develops in your mouth over time. We're calling it a 6.5/10 on the heat scale-o-meter. The apple cider vinegar gives it a fresh, healthy impression and it helps hold the heat in your mouth for a few more seconds than usual.
It's a different approach to the typical hot pepper mixes we see, but we're fans. The price is on the higher side ($9 a jar is pretty steep), but it may be justified because of the quality of ingredients used. You won't get that cheap, slippery oil feeling in your mouth from these jars. We're looking forward to seeing what else these CO dudes cook up.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Mile High Giardiniera, LLC (Denver, CO)
Hot Mix Ingredients: Yellow onion, serrano, jalepeno, pepper, canola oil, carrots, cauliflower, white vinegar, habaneros, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, celery, vinegar, apple cider vinegar, spices.
Mild Mix Ingredients: Yellow onion, jalepeno, pepper, canola oil, carrots, cauliflower, white vinegar, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, celery, vinegar, apple cider vinegar, spices.
Price: $8.99 for a 15 ounce jar
- Denver, CO
- Boulder, CO
- Littleton, CO
- Lakewood, CO
- Ouray, CO
- Golden, CO
- Fort Mill, CO
- Wheat Ridge, CO
- Evergreen, CO
- Westminster, CO
- Estes Park, CO
- Lafayette, CO
- Niwot, CO
- Pueblo, CO
- Rapid City, SD
- Sioux Falls, SD
- Fort Mill, SC
Minelli Meat & Deli (Niles, Illinois)
Location: 7900 N Milwaukee Ave, Suite 6, Niles, IL.
Thanks Todd S. for giving us the heads up about this joint! He vouches for them having great beef, sausage, and all the rest. We're going to take a little trip up north to check this place out and get to know their giardiniera, which is bottled and available at their deli counter. More information to come once we make it up there.
Mr. Beef on Orleans (Chicago, River North Neighborhood)
Where to Get Mr. Beef Giardiniera: So far we've found that you can only get it by ordered it as a side at the counter. We'll let you know if we find another way.
Natali makes a long line of giardinieras, hot pepper spreads, soup mixes and canned goodies like cherry peppers, tomatoes and cippollini (small pickled Italian onions). We haven't come across a product that we didn't like from them. They're also cool people who have a genuine passion for Italian food and have been perfecting their mixes for decades.
Their giardinieras are soybean and olive-oil based and have a ton of ingredients, including hot peppers, cauliflower, celery, carrots, bell peppers, black pepper, garlic, red pepper, basil, oregano and parsley.
We generally lean toward medium chopped giards, but there's something about the delicate and thinly chopped veggies that work well here. The vegetables don't pack the hardest crunch we've experienced, but they're not on the soft side either. We'll give it a 7/10 on the crunch-o-meter scale.
The oregano, basil and parsley really jump out at you and are a nice prominent feature in all of their blends, but they especially add a nice touch to the mild version (barely taste any heat there).
We're loving the vinegar in these mixes. It's balanced and gives just the right amount of bite back. This is probably one of our top giardinieras when we're looking for something with strong but balanced vinegar notes. All three levels: mild, hot and super hot have prominent vinegar features, but the super hot mix strikes the best balance between heat (pretty spicy, but not punishing) and vinegar.
They also have a piccante pepper giardiniera mix called "Vendetta", which has a much thicker cut to it and has a sweeter, more garlicy and onion taste to it. There's some heat there, but it's the kind of delayed heat that hits and lingers in the back of your tongue in a pleasant, non-threatening way.
We dig their hot pepper spreads on pizza and sandwiches too. They bring some serious heat. Brought those to a family party and all the spice lovers were piling it on their pizza slices. If you're going to buy some giardiniera from them, pick up a bottle or two of their hot pepper spread while you're at it.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Natali's Farm Inc. (Schaumburg, IL)
Mild Giardiniera Ingredients: Mixed red and green peppers, soybean oil, celery, carrots, cauliflower, vinegar, salt, black pepper, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, spices, bisulfates, olive oil.
Hot Mix ingredients: Hot peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, soybean oil, distilled vinegar, salt, black pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, spices, bisulfates, olive oil.
Super Hot Mix Ingredients: Hot peppers, celery, soybean oil, vinegar, salt, carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, crushed red pepper, garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, spices, bisulfates, olive oil.
Vendetta Piccante Pepper Mix: Hot sliced green peppers, soybean oil, celery, vinegar, water, salt, onion powder, garlic, black pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper, basil, parsley, olive oil.
- 1 jar = $3.75
- 2 jars = $7.50
- 3 jars = $11.25
- 4 jars = $15
- 5 jars = $18.75
- 6 jars = $22.50
Where to Get Natali Giardiniera Online: Order straight from the Natali website.
New York Deli (Chicago, Lakeview Neighborhood)
Location: 2921 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL. Info coming soon! Here's the digits if you want to give them a call: 773-549-3328.
Nottoli Italian Foods (Chicago, Norwood Park Neighborhood)
This small grocery store and Italian deli is over at 5025 North Harlem Avenue. It's an old-school place that has been serving the neighborhood for decades. They're not concerned with looks (sometimes it seems they're not that concerned with cleaning either), but when it comes to the brass tax, they make some serious sausage and meatballs. Many have sworn by their Italian Beefs too. If you go there, be sure to check out their fresh cheese selection, which is impressive and tasty. The hot giardiniera is tasty. The veggies were crisp and it definitely has a more pronounced celery flavor than others we have tried. It seemed oilier than others as well. The heat level is about a 6 out of 10, a good heat but not overpowering. Olives are listed on the ingredients but I didn't see any in the hot, only in the mild. You can give them a buzz here: 773-631-0662 if you have any questions. Note: This store is not associated with Nottoli and Son Italian Sausage Shop and Deli on Belmont Ave. That's a different joint that also makes their own giardiniera. Ingredients: Bell Peppers, Soybean Oil, Celery, Cauliflower, Carrots, Pitted Green Olives, Spices, Vinegar, Salt, Lactic Acid. May contain Potassium Sorbate, Sulfites, Benzoate.
- Mild 16 oz. $3.79
- Hot 16 oz. $3.79
Nottoli & Son Italian Sausage Shop and Deli (Chicago, Dunning Neighborhood)
This Italian deli and grocer is in Chicago's Dunning neighborhood, pretty close to O'Hare International Airport at 7652 West Belmont (sending elbows to all you layover peeps). They're known and loved for their XXX hot Italian sausages, subs and homemade giardiniera.
We really like their hot giardiniera, which has a soybean oil base and all the usual veggies plus pitted green olives. Additionally, their hot and extra version still use bell peppers (usually that's just reserved for the mild versions).
The mild has very little to no heat, so we suggest skipping that one unless that's what you're looking for. This mix has a decent crunch and it's worth picking up since you already HAVE to go there to try the sausages anyway.
Want to buy Nottoli giardiniera online? No problemo - You can order online by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and letting them know which bottles you want. Prices:
- 16 oz. Mild: $4.69
- 16 oz. Hot: $4.69
- 16 oz. Extra Hot: $4.69
- 32 oz. Hot: $6.29
- 12 oz. Hot Italian Style Pepper Spread: $4.59
- 12 oz. Mild Pepper Spread: $4.59
- 32 oz. Hot Pepper Spread: $6.29
Note: These guys are not associated with Nottoli Italian Foods on Harlem, who also makes their own giardiniera.
Odyssey from Brookhaven Marketplace (Darien, Burr Ridge & Mokena, IL)
It's saltier than most giardiniera and that's mostly because they use the coveted kalamata olives along with green olives and capers. There's little heat, the focus is on the tartness of olives and the tang of vinegar.
They only use extra-virgin olive oil, so folks who are looking to avoid vegetable or soybean oil should definitely try this out for size.
We have yet to try the hot version. As soon as we can make it out to the 'burbs, we'll pick some up.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Brookhaven Marketplace.
- Mild: Mixed bell peppers, extra-virgin olive oil, yellow bell peppers, vegetables, red peppers, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, green olives, capers, mild spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
- Hot: Coming soon.
Price: Coming soon.
Where to Get Odysessy Giardiniera: It's available at Brookhaven Marketplace grocery stores. There are three locations in the suburbs of Chicago: Darien, Moken and Burr Ridge. We have an email out to them asking if there's anyway to buy it online. We'll update as soon as we get word from them.
Olybio (Greek-Style Giardiniera and Hot Peppers)
This kind of giardiniera isn't the typical Chicago-style we oogle about on EatGiardiniera.com. This Greek version has a water and salt base and use radishes, carrots, green tomatoes, cauliflower, gherkin pickles and green and red bell peppers.
They also have a hot pepper mix that consists of a jar of whole hot peppers packed in water, salt and acetic acid.
Where to Buy Olybio Giardiniera and Hot Peppers: You can buy their mild giardiniera and hot peppers (or other pickled products) on their website.
Orlando Greco Hot Giardiniera
This is another popular brand and people tend to like it for it's saltiness. It consists of peppers, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives (green). They have a nice chomp to them, but unfortunately the veggies weren't consistently crisp in our bottle.
It's a good salty addition if that's what you're looking for. The herbs and spices tend to be on the flatter side, so this a good option for folks who don't like to get punched from a giardiniera.
People who like this brand, really love it. It's also widely available at many supermarkets, which is a bonus. Try it out for yourself and let us know what you think.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Orlando Imports (Carol Stream, IL)
ingredients: Hot peppers (in hot mix), soybean oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, vinegar, salt and spices.
Price: From $3.69 on Amazon, but shipping is going to cost a bit. You should be able to find this in large-sized grocery stores if you're in the Chicagoland area.
Where to Buy Orlando Greco Online: Amazon sells these jars online:
Pagliacci Hot Giardiniera
You'll find Pagliacci in a lot fridges. They sell a lot of giardiniera and we think it's because the mass public doesn't really like the spicy stuff - there is very little heat in these bottles (which is maybe why they make Fat Johnny's Friggin' Hot too).
It's also pretty salty, which the larger general public tends to like. We do like that there's no limp veggies here - everything has a good crisp crunch to it. We also like that it's still hand-packed in Chicago. Try it out for yourself and let us know what you think!
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Joseph Antognoli & Co. (Chicago, IL)
Ingredients: Hot peppers (for hot mix), soybean oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Price: $7.50 for a 32 ounce jar
Where to Buy It: You can order some straight through Amazon if you can't find it at your local grocery store:
Thanks to our buddy Matt E. for turning us on to Papa's Peppers. This is a family-run company which started with, you guessed it, their Papa growing peppers and making giardiniera in the kitchen. The grandkids have taken the reins and work to share their grandpa's recipe with the rest of the world. We're thankful for that because this is some solid, tasty giard.
Both the mild and hot versions have "Lotsa Garlic" on their bottles, and they weren't kidding. We love heavy garlic giardinieras and this one delivers. This giaridniera is also unique because it includes eggplant. We're unsure how much it impacts the taste other than adding some chew to the mix, but it's a notable addition because there aren't that many giards that use it.
The giaridniera is very finely chopped, except for the occasional long-stringed veggie that we identified either as a length-cut pepper or eggplant. It's more of a relish than traditionally-cut giaridniera.
The mild version has some respectable heat to it, but nothing too heavy for folks who don't like heat. It's a garlic-based heat instead of a pepper-sourced heat. We like that this mild version has depth to it (other brands' mild mixes tend to fall flat for us). If you're a mild giardiniera lover, you need to check this out. The hot has a mid-range heat of 5.5 out of 10, but again, those wonderful garlic notes make it a must-have giardiniera in your fridge.
Their bottles are distributed by J. Vespa Foods in Bloomingdale, Illinois and packed by E. Formella & Sons in Woodridge, Illinois.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by J. Vespa Foods, Inc (Bloomingdale, IL)
- Giardiniera: Soybean oil, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, olives, garlic, spices and vinegar
- Muffuletta Salad: Green and black olives, soybean oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, pimentos, water, vinegar, salt and spices
Price: $6.50 for 16 ounce jar of giardiniera or muffuletta
Where to Buy Papa's Peppers: They are at the Downer's Grove (IL) Farmer's market (May - Oct), The Olive Tap (Downers Grove and Long Grover, IL), Felicia's Deli (Elk Grove Village, IL) and Glenbard Electric (Lombard, IL). They also have a website, but it's not in the best working order. If you're not around the western suburbs of Chicago, you can email your order to email@example.com and they'll ship it to you. They ship everywhere and there's no minimum order. They typically ship via UPS and say it's usually cheaper if they ship the bottles to a business address.
Papa Rocco's by River Valley Kitchens (Burlington, Wisconsin)
We came across this giardiniera at the Logan Square Famers Market. They're a mushroom farm up in Wisconsin that has fun making giardiniera once or twice a year. There's not a ton in circulation, so if you find a jar you should buy it right away (looks like they still have some available online! See below under "Where to Buy".).
These guys focus on delivering heat. They use serranos, jalapeños, thai chilies, habaneros and chile pequins that give this giaridniera a serious kick. The thai chilies are prominent and they use black olives (in addition to green ones) that gives a unique richness. The heat doesn't hit you right away, but give it a few seconds and -BAM- you're in the middle of a sweet heat bomb. If you like heat, you need to try this out.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: River Valley Kitchens
Ingredients: Onions, celery, black olives, green olives, serrano peppers, green bell peppers, vinegar, canola oil, salt, pimentos, garlic, white pepper, sugar, basil, parsley, thai chiles, jalapeños, habaneros and chile pequins.
Price: $7.99 for a 16 ounce bottle
Where to Buy: They will often have a bottle at the Logan Square Farmers Market (go there, it's awesome and was just voted #2 farmer's market in the U.S.!) but they also sell online if you're not local. Appears they still have some 16 ounce bottles available for sale on their website!
Pappy's (Evergreen Park, Illinois)
This South Side restaurant is a favorite amongst locals. They have everything from American fast food to ribs to Italian beefs and ice cream.
They make their own giardiniera in-house. We like that it has a sweet tanginess to it. The veggies have a nice chomp. It's a salty giardiniera, but not overly salted. It has soybean oil, but it also uses olive oil, which gives it stronger olive tones to it and gives the oil a clean, crisp taste. Overall, a tasty giard - especially if you're dunking it on one of their Italian beefs.
Location: 3301 West 95th Street, Evergreen Park, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Pappy's
Ingredients: Select hot peppers (for hot mix), soybean oil, olive oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, pimentos, water, salt and spices.
Price: $3.59 for a 16 ounce bottle
Where to Buy: The only way is to pick up one of their jars at their restaurant at 3301 West 95th Street.
Pastine Pepper Salad
So, this is on the edge of the giardiniera spectrum, but we wanted you to know about it because you might dig it. It's bell pepper heavy, is set in a vinegar and soybean oil base and includes peppers, garlic, calcium chloride and has a tiny amount of benzoate of soda. If you're looking for something different to add to your mix, try this out. Where to buy Pastene online: Order straight from their website.
Pete's Fresh Market Giardiniera
It's difficult to get a clean picture of a non-oil stained bottle because once we have it, we devour it. They have a mild and hot version, and the mild is good when you're looking for that tang without the heat.
The hot is our favorite. It's packed with hot peppers (not in mild version), celery, bell peppers (in both mild and hot versions), carrots and pitted green olives.
Tip: Because it's a straight olive oil mix it congeals in the fridge, so you just take it out about 10 minutes before you want to eat it so it loosens up.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Packed for Pete's Fresh Market
Ingredients: Hot peppers (hot version), extra virgin olive oil, celery, bell peppers, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Price: Not available for purchase at this time (see below update). Will update when they produce more.
Where to Buy Giardiniera from Pete's Fresh Market: You can score a bottle by visiting one of their Chicagoland grocery stores. We talked to the guys over at the Pete's on Madison and Western Aves and they said they're working on selling their bottles online, but it might be a few months until that comes to fruition. We'll post an update here whenever we hear the good word. Trust me, you want to add this to your mix.
MARCH 2015 UPDATE: The Western and Madison avenue store (2333 W. Madison Street) said they will start stocking it again as of March 4, 2015. However not all stores carry it. I just called the store at 5724 S. Kedzie Avenue and they said they stopped making the giardiniera a year ago. So, conflicting info here. If you love it (and we do), we suggest bombarding the Western and Madison Ave store on the 4th and stocking up!
February 2015 UPDATE: I haven't been able to find their giaridniera for weeks now. A manager told me there was some kind of production issue, but there should be more in a week or two, and it's since been 4 weeks. I reached out to the company to ask for more information about the product and I received this response:
Thank you for reaching out to us! This is not something that we will participate in at this time. If I find out any more information or suddenly see their shelves restocked I'll post an update here. Please let me know if you start seeing it come back too. Looks like we'll have to do our own investigating since the company doesn't seem to be responsive. It's a shame. I really liked this giardiniera.
Pickle O' Pete Giardiniera
Word is you can only get this from the Peoria Packing Butcher Shop at 1300 West Lake Street in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. We're working on getting more info and trying this baby out for ourselves.
Polar Giardiniera (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
Polar, also called MW Polar, makes this antipasto mix that includes onions, cauliflower, red, yellow and green bell peppers. Please note this version of anitpasto giardiniera is nothing like the Chicago mixes we love. You can buy it online here:
Pop's Beef (Chicago, its Suburbs and Indiana)
Their hot giardiniera has some slight heat (we're calling it a 4.5 out of 10), but tends to work for these kind of beef joints because customers like the milder "hot" versions so they can taste the seasoned meat and not be overwhelmed by a burning heat.
The oil tastes pretty "slippery", which is usually a sign that it's not of the highest quality. But they must be doing something right because they say they sell 15-30 gallons of their hot giardiniera each week. Make the drive, grab a beef and let us know what you think!
Where to Get Pop's Beef Giardiniera: You can only pick up their giardiniera by visiting one of their stores and buying a side of it.
Everyone who leaves Chicago misses Portillo's. Their Italian sausages and beefs are a local favorite, and their burgers, fries and shakes (and chocolate cake - hellllo) are something to write home about.
But when it comes to giardiniera, Portillo's doesn't make their own; instead they use the Marconi brand. So, if you're an out-of-towner who's craving some Portillo's beefs or sausages, buy your favorite Marconi bottle on Amazon:
PotBelly's Hot Peppers
Give it a chance and we think you'll be blown away. When we talk about giardiniera, people automatically list their favs like Bari and Capri and the other local "cool" guys... but then after another beer and getting comfy with us, they'll often whisper that they really love Potbelly's giardiniera - and it's actually one of their favorites.
We agree. PotBelly's blend uses soyboean oil and has serrano and jalepeno peppers, crinkly carrots, celery, red bell peppers, cauliflower and green olives.
It has a solid heat that surprises a lot of people. We love them for sticking to a bold flavor, especially since they're now selling to the fast-food masses who tend to like milder versions.
The crunch behind their veggies is super satisfying too. The one thing that kinda irks us is that they call it "hot peppers" on their jar - we believe they should call it by the gorgeous name it is -- hot, stinky, wonderful giardiniera from the Chi town.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Potbelly Sandwich Works, Chicago, IL
Ingredients: 100% soybean oil, serrano peppers, jalapeño peppers, red bell peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, green olives, less than 2% of the following: celery salt, water, vinegar, salt, herbs and spices, calcium chloride, 1/10th of 1% sodium benzoate as a preservative and a trace of sodium bisulfite.
Price: $6.95 plus tax for a 16 ounce bottle.
Where to Get PotBelly's Giardiniera: The sad news is they don't ship giardiniera out, but you can buy it by the jar (or gallon) in the store. Check out their store locator to see if there's one by you (they keep expanding into new states and cities each year). 2016 UPDATE: Thanks to Tristan for letting us know Amazon now sells Potbelly's giardiniera online here, but be prepared to pay quite a bit more than you would in the store. It's $39.99 for just 2 16 ounce jars (holy cow).
Racconto Hot and Mild Giardinieras
This brand is one of those that are often found on grocery shelves around the country. It's on the salty side of the spectrum, which really does it for some people. The celery, carrots and cauliflower are on the soft side and the olives, peppers and pimentos don't stand out much to us. This brand is not one of the best in our opinions, but a decent middle-of-the-road brand and it seems generally widely available.
The have hot and mild giardiniera, available in 16 and 32 ounce jars, and their hot or mild muffulettas are available in 16 ounce jars.
We just had a nice Wisconsin woman contact us because this is her husband's favorite brand and their local store stopped selling it (we know that panic) - so we gave them a call to see how folks can order their hot pepper mixes online. Turns out they have an online store coming soon (expected live around August 2015), but in the meantime you can call them at 708-865-8000 and place orders with them over the phone. They ship via UPS ground. Or they also sell a few products via Amazon:
Rex Italian Foods and Deli (Norridge, Illinois)
Originally on Chicago's west side in the 60s, they then moved to the north side of the city and then settled in the suburb of Norridge. You can find them at 4431 North Harlem Ave.
It's a delightful Sicilian deli filled with amazing food made with love. The prices are super affordable too. People rave about the sausage and peppers, the schiacciata sandwich "(ham, pepperoni, mild giardiniera peppers and mozzarella) and the giardiniera chicken.
Their giardiniera has been carefully crafted and it should be on your shelf. Bright notes and a sharp tang give a nice smack in your mouth. Pick up a few bottles because they'll go fast in your house. The hot is not super-hot, maybe a 6 out of 10 and no olives.
Ingredients: Peppers, celery, soybean oil, cauliflower, carrots, water, vinegar, salt and spices.
Prices: $4.99 for a hot pint, $4.49 for a medium pint
How to Get Rex's Giardiniera in Your Fridge: They don't sell it online, so you have to go into their store to pick it up. It'll be a great trip - we highly recommend going and loaded up on some delicious food while you're there.
Ricobene's (Chicago, Armour Square Neighborhood)
Ricobene’s is a Chicago institution known for it’s enormous breaded steak sandwich. We finally got to see what it’s all about today and it did not disappoint. It was several pieces of thinly pounded breaded steak on a bun with red sauce. You can add cheese and hot peppers, of course. We of course wanted to try the giardiniera (which they make themselves), so we got ours loaded up.
Their giard is tasty and not too spicy, a 5.5 out of 10 on the heat level. We got our on the side so we could try it on its own as well as on our giant steak sandwich. It’s quite good in our eyes. The veggies are crisp (the traditional mix of peppers, cauliflower, carrots and celery) with a nice balance of oil and vinegar.
Other menu items include thick and thin pizza, wings, “Sicilian” beef (their version of Italian beef), hot dogs, BBQ, salads, wings, and much more. It’s a casual eatery that gets a lot of local lunch work crowds and people tend to congregate here before White Sox games. It's also loaded with cops, so you know it’s good (and safe, ha ha).
Ingredients: Hot peppers, celery, olives, carrots, cauliflower, pimentos, spices, vinegar, vegetable oil.
Prices: $3.19 for hot 8 ounces
Where to Buy Ricobene’s Giardiniera: You can pick some up at their restaurant, or if you’re lucky enough to be in their delivery area, add a jar on when you order in.
Riviera Italian Imported Foods (Chicago, Dunning Neighborhood)
They're on the north side of the city at 3220 North Harlem Ave. There's a local cult following for the "Will's Special" sandwich, which is a tasty mix of hot sopressata, cappicola, prosciutto, mozzarella, and hot giardiniera.
Do yourself a favor and order this bad boy while you're there. The giardiniera has all the fixings the typical Chicago style mix has, but it has a fresh and clean taste to it because they only use high quality olive oil with a tad of vinegar (no soybean or canola/vegetable oil like most other giardinieras). The veggies are not crisp, which some people may not like, but the flavor is definitely there.
And this giardiniera brings the heat. They tend to pile it on high, so be prepared to embrace it in all of it's hot, hot wonderful glory. They come with adorable simple homemade labels that give these jars even more charm.
Location: 3220 North Harlem Avenue, Chicago, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Made in-house at the deli.
Ingredients: Not listed, but we believe it's olive oil, bell peppers, serrano peppers, carrots, vinegar and spices.
Price: $6.00 for a 16 ounce jar.
Where to Buy Riviera Giardiniera: The only way we know is to get your booty up to their deli. We have a call in and will let you know if there's any way you can buy it online. Update: Sorry folks, the only way you can get it is by coming to the Chi-town and stopping in their joint. Start planning your trip!
Roland Giardiniera (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
This antipasto one has the typical cauliflower, red peppers, celery and carrots. They also add gherkin pickles, which is a little unusual but gives it a sweeter taste. It's important to us to remind folks that this antipasto mix is nothing like the Chicago stuff we adore over here at EatGiardiniera.com. If you have an urge to pick up some antipasto giardiniera, Roland sells a ton of it (mostly to Italian restaurants that don't care to make their own) and you can buy it online:
Roma's Italian Beef (Chicago, Portage Park Neighborhood)
Roma's has some serious beefs and sausages and it just has a good vibe. Employees are clearly happy to be there. If you want, you can find yourself getting into long conversations about how they make their food and exactly why they use "x" ingredient over "y". They're passionate about what they do and it shows in their food.
We like their giardiniera because their hot peppers have an awesome crisp and taste fresh. That's because when they make it, they cut the fresh peppers in their restaurant. That's a big deal because many places use peppers that have been pre-cut and floating in vinegar for weeks, which can make the peppers soggy and dull.
Their mix is definitely heavy on the celery, but we don't mind that. It helps balance out the heat and adds to the crunch.
Rubino's Italian Imports (Tinley Park, Illinois)
They make their own giardiniera under the Everthing Italian brand. Jars are sold with their Rubino's name them in their store or by the Everything Italian brand name everywhere else (local stores).
Their giardiniera comes in extra extra hot, hot and mild. They have a water, soybean oil and vinegar base and they use bell peppers in the mild version, hot peppers and red pepper flakes in the hot and extra extra hot versions, and all versions include celery, green olives and pimentos. We still have to pick up a jar and taste for ourselves. Review to come!
Where to buy Rubino's Giardiniera (aka Everything Italian): You can't buy them online per se, but you can call them at 708-614-0755 or email everythingitaliandist<at>yahoo.com and place an order that way. FYI: You have to buy at least 6 jars in order for them to ship to you and they only ship within the United States.
January 2016 Update: Our friend and long-time Scala's fan Erin K. has dug deep and found out what happened to Scala's. If you're interested in the story, it involves a lawsuit. Just Google "Scala's vs Michelangelo Foods lawsuit" to find the details. Now, we're no attorneys, so we don't want to speculate or act like we totally understand what happened here, but the end result is that it looks like Scala's recipe is still alive and well, it's just being produced under Michelangelo Food's "ahhthatsitalian" label. You can pick yourself up some bottles on their website! Thank you Erin for passing along this information. We're placing an order right now!
This is a big one, folks. They're known for creating the first Chicago style giardiniera. It started in 1925 with Pasquale Scala, an Italian immigrant who was living in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood and making sausages, beef and giardiniera. It's since grown into an empire.
They're used at beef joints all around the city and beyond (they also make pre=made Italian beef and deliver it to a lot of stands that don't make their own. For the record, we think it'd be fabulous if beef stands all made their own beef and giardiniera.).
Scala's is distinctly Chicago. People grew up on it. We've liked it it because of the olive oil and soybean oil mix. The mild is fine and the hot is good but not too spicy - a 6 out of 10.
But something strange has happened... in 2014 they just disappeared. Their website is down and no one is getting answers on social media. We're working on getting the full story and hopefully there's still a way to get their giardiniera. We've actually been doing a lot of digging and things are very hush hush. If anyone has any info, please email us.
Scudiero's (Melrose Park, Illinois)
We had a blast talking to Frank over here. Another friendly foodie behind the counter who loves what he does. This place is a gem. We went around lunch time and it was packed with neighborhood folks and cops. If you're anywhere near Melrose Park, dial this address up in your GPS and pick up a sub or three and a bottle of giard.
Their hot giardiniera has an immediate but pleasant heat that it lingers for a bit. It starts out as 5.5/10 on the heat scale and a few seconds later turns up to 6.5 before it melts away. The spices are pronounced in this blend in a charming way and the veggies slight crunch to them. This place is a very lovely deli with a tasty homemade giard and it should be on your "we gotta go" list. They also have a hot pepper spread that is one of our favorites. If you like heat, you need to grab a jar of the spread too.
Location: 2113 West Lake Street in Melrose Park. 708-343-2976
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Scudiero's
- Giardiniera: Hot peppers, soybean oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
- Hot Pepper Spread: Hot peppers, soybean oil, cauliflower, carrots, red bell peppers, crushed red pepper, spices, vinegar, salt. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
- Giardiniera: 8 ounces = $2.99 16 ounces = $4.99
- Hot pepper spread: 12 ounces = $4.99
Where to Buy: Available only at Scudiero's.
Sechler's Pickles (St. Joe and Fremont, Indiana)
Our good friends Rob and Kathleen stop here all the time to stock up on their way from Chicago to their family's home in Pennsylvania.
They have everything from baby dills to hot cauliflower, salsas, sweet pickled onions and sweet green tomatoes. They don't offer giardiniera per se, however they do have a few versions that come very close to it. Let's look at a couple of them and their ingredients:
- Hot Mixed Pickles: Banana peppers, cucumbers, water, cauliflower, red bell peppers, onions, vinegar, salt, alum, turmeric, 1/10 of 1% Benzoate of Soda
- Sweet Heat Mixed Pickles: Cucumbers, cauliflower, banana peppers, pepperoncini, onions, red bell peppers, water, sugar, vinegar, salt, garlic, alum, natural flavor, turmeric, 1/10 of 1% Benzoate of Soda
- Sweet-Mild Hungarian Pickle Relish: Cucumbers, Hungarian peppers, red bell peppers, sugar, water, vinegar, salt, spices, natural and artificial flavors, onions, Xanthan gum, alum, turmeric, 1/10 of 1% Benzoate of Soda
Where to Buy Sechler's Pickles: Their factory and store (they also have tours to see how everything gets pickled) is at 5686 SR1 in St. Joe, Indiana and another retail store in Fremont, Indiana. They also have a great online store where you can buy individual items or gift boxes.
Serrelli's Finer Foods (Chicago, Austin Neighborhood)
Location: 6454 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL. Info coming soon! Here's the digits if you want to give them a call: 773-237-7530.
Snarf's Sandwiches (Chicago, St. Louis, Austin, TX & Colorado Locations)
Thanks Jeremy R. for turning us onto this place! We can't wait to go check it out and report back asap.
Soluri & Sons Italian Deli (Chicago, Bridgeport Neighborhood)
These guys are at 3549 South Halsted, just a few blocks from our beloved White Sox Park, aka our Old Comiskey. Stop on by if you're heading to a ballgame (pro tip: grab some of their fresh sausages for pre-game grilling).
Pretty new to the area, they are known for their delicious poorboys and homemade sausages. This tiny neighborhood store front makes a delicious giardiniera, as well as an awesome Italian sub. We’ll be back for more giard, and to try the other sandwiches.
The giardiniera is another tasty one in our books. It's full of big, chunky veggies and has a heat that sneaks up on you. We give this one a 6 out of 10 for heat level. We liked the tang of the vinegar that was a little more pronounced than others.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Soluri & Sons
Location: 3549 South Halsted, Chicago, IL
Ingredients: Selected jalapeño peppers, soybean oil, celery, carrots, cauliflower, vinegar, salt & spices.
Price: $4.89 for a 16 ounce jar, hot or mild.
Where to Buy: You can only get it by going to their store. No online orders. But they do deliver from Hyde Park to Little Italy/University Village and from Western Ave east to the Lake. Stop in after a Sox game and grab poorboy and a few jars in their shop at 3549 S. Halsted.
Sonoma Farms (Chicago Heights, Illinois)
We haven't had a chance to taste this out yet but we hope to soon. We'll post an update as soon as we can try it out for ourselves. We hope to report back soon!
Where to Buy Sonoma Giardiniera: They have a factory and store at 1025 West End Ave in Chicago Heights, Illinois where you can pick up some jars. But if you're not close by, you can buy their hot giardiniera and extra hot giardiniera (with habanero peppers!) online.
Starship Subs (Forest Park, Illinois)
Thanks to Jeff S. for telling us about this restaurant and saying he really digs their sandwiches and bottled giardiniera. We chatted with the good folks at Starship and learned that their Starship-logo giardiniera isn't actually made in-house, rather it's made by E. Formella & Sons (Countryside, Illinois) and bottled for their restaurant.
Even though they don't have homemade giard, we still can't wait to eat at their place, which is Star Trek/Star Wars themed joint. Yes, you heard that right. How cool is that. But you don't just go there for the cool "nerd" atmosphere - they're also a destination spot for people who love gumbo. We also hear they have a pretty darn good jambalaya club sandwich.
Where to Buy Starship-Branded Giardiniera (E. Formella & Sons recipe): You can pick it up at their restaurant at 7618 West Madison Street in Forest Park or you can order their giardiniera online (along with their marinades and hot sauces).
Stump's Hot and Mild Sicilian Style Giardiniera
This giardiniera wasn't on our radar until we started asking Wisconsin folks what their favorites were. Stump's is family-owned operation from Wausau, Wisconsin and we love, LOVE that they support their local farmers and food producers.
They use both olive oil and soybean oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, pimentos, vinegar and spices. Hot peppers for the hot mix and bell peppers for their mild.
The heat on the hot giardiniera hits you a little late and comes in at a low bang of 4 out of 10. The mild is too mild for our taste but it has a nice crunch and the olives are strong, so we can see why people dig it.
It's on the salty side, which we kinda dig but it might be too much for some people. We picked ours up during a Wisconsin giardiniera road trip at Woodman's market in Oak Creek, WI - but you can actually buy this online.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Product of USA. Cold packed.
Ingredients: Select hot peppers (for hot mix), bell peppers (mild mix), soybean oil, olive oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, green olives, pimentos, water, vinegar, sat and spices.
Price: 8 ounce jar for $2.99; 16 ounces for $3.99
Where to buy Stump's giardiniera: Check out their website to order online. They also have cool other products like bloody mary mix and hot brussel sprouts.
Subway Chain Restaurants
Many regional Chicago-area Subways offer giardiniera as a sandwich topper. While we're not big fans of this restaurant's subs or veggies, there is a small cult following for this giardiniera but not many people know where it comes from.
Turns out they use Alpino's Hot Pepper Mix and you can buy that brand online at Amazon below. We found this out by talking to franchisees. We asked corporate and they replied with this canned and incorrect response (way to go on the lame response Subway):
"Our products are produced for SUBWAY Restaurant use only. We love our products as much as you do, (especially the cookies), but we are unable to share our recipes. You’ll just have to visit your favorite SUBWAY restaurant to enjoy them!"
We just wanted to know what kind of giardiniera they used, which turns out comes from a third party that actually IS available elsewhere:
Sun of Italy Fancy Giardiniera (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
Another antipasto-style giardiniera that Italians like to serve as a side dish. It doesn't taste anything like the Chicago pepper mixes we go nuts for. Ingredients include: cauliflower, carrots, celery, red peppers, hot peppers, water, vinegar, salt, citric acid, benzoate of soda and sodium bisulfite.
Once again, we're just doing our duty of listing all the giardinieras of the world. You can go buy it here if you're into this kind of thing:
Sunny Harvest Giardiniera (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
This is your typical antipasto (read: NOT Chicago style [aka the best style]), but it's not even coming from Italy. It's made in China and distributed in California. Vegetables used: cauliflower, red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, celery and onions. Packed in water, salt, sugar, citric acid and calcium chloride mix. We wouldn't bother with it, but you can buy it on Amazon if you're looking for some "it's ok" in your life:
Supremo Italiano Giardiniera (Traditional Italian Antipasto Style)
A lot of Italian restaurants that don't make their own antipasto order this wholesale. A reminder that when we label it "Traditional Italian Antipasto Style", it means it's nothing like our beloved Chicago style giardiniera. It's a cauliflower heavy mix, and pretty bland if you ask us. Not sure why you'd want it, but you can buy it on Amazon if you have a hunger for mass produced, floppy pickled vegetables:
Tenuta's Italian Delicatessen and Grocery Store (Kenosha, WI)
This Kenosha tradition was well worth the drive from Chicago for us. We're telling ya, it's our Disneyland. We just walk around with our mouths hanging open checking out all the fine olive oils, fresh pasta, encased meats, local cheeses and craft beers -- long, glorious aisles of heaven, basically.
Oh, and let's not forget their crown jewel - their giardiniera. They use a soybean oil base. The mild version has bell peppers and their hot and extra hot uses hot peppers of course, but they all have cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, vinegar and lactic acid.
While we wish the veggies had a little more crunch to them, everything else about these giardinieras is spot on. Hands down, one of our favorite kinds of giardiniera in the world.
Let's start with their delicious mild version. We love the soft vinegar bite and the olives kiss you right back. Buy it and put it on everything you eat.
The hot giardiniera is a perfect everyday relish that has solid heat but isn't too intense. Our favorite is putting this baby in some fresh pasta. Their extra hot giardiniera has the kind of warm, intense (but tolerable) heat that keeps warming your chest for a few hours after you eat it. We love it on cold days. You can't go wrong here. Just buy them all and eat them all the time.
Location: 3203 52nd Street, Kenosha, WI
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Tenuta's Delicatessen
Ingredients: Hot peppers (for extra hot and hot versions), soybean oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain: potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Prices: $3.99 for a 16 ounce pint and $5.99 for a 32 ounce quart.
Where to buy Tenuta's giardiniera: Our favorite thing to do is to head up to Kenosha to their insanely awesome grocery store (3203 52nd Street, not far off the 94 expressway and just an hour and 15 minute shot from Chicago)... but if you're not nearby, the good news is you can buy their giardinieras online.
That Pickle Guy Giardiniera
Greg Frederick is "That Pickle Guy" and he's been making giardiniera since he moved out of Chicago and realized how much he missed the Chicago-born garnish.
When he moved back to the Chicago suburbs (Lisle), he decided to start a business out of his love for pickling and giardiniera. We're happy he did.
You'll find select peppers, cauliflower, celery, carrots and olives in this jar. There's no denying they know how to pickle some vegetables - we're pretty happy with the pickled taste and vinegar balance.
We love this kind of giardiniera and we eat a lot of it, but we wish they weren't on the soggy side of the spectrum. That's the one little bummer with this giardiniera, but we still think it's very worthy of having it on the rotation.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Manufactured for That Pickle Guy, Inc. (Lisle, IL)
Ingredients: Select peppers, cauliflower, celery, carrots, olives, spices, pure soybean oil.
- $4.99 for 8 ounce jar
- $6.99 for 16 ounces
- $8.99 for 24 ounces
Where to Buy That Pickle Guy's Giardiniera: You can load it up into your Amazon cart below or you can go straight to his website.
Tony's Deli and Subs (Chicago, Edison Park Neighborhood)
People flock to this Edison Park (North-West side Chicago neighborhood) deli for lots of reasons, giardiniera being a major one of them, but we'll get to that in a second. You should go there to check out their beautiful shelves filled with hard-to-find Italian delicacies (olive oils espressos, olives...). They also make some mean arancino, lasagna, meatballs, sausages and wedding soup.
Now, back to the star - their homemade giardiniera flies off the shelves. People usually come in, grab a sandwich at the back deli counter and grab a jar or two on their way to the checkout counter. It's a soybean oil (but not in the mild version), olive oil, vinegar and lactic acid base with hot peppers (except those aren't in the mild version), celery, bell peppers, cauliflower and pitted green olives.
They also have a hot pepper spread that's made with hot peppers, soybean oil, vinegar, cauliflower, carrots, red bell peppers and crushed red pepper (adds to the heat). It's definitely spicy and it's a great minced up spread to have on hand.
Location: 6708 North Northwest Highway, Chicago, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Tony's
- Hot Giardiniera: Hot peppers, soybean oil, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
- Mild Giardiniera: Bell peppers, olive oil, celery, cauliflower, carrots, pitted green olives, spices, vinegar, salt, lactic acid. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
- Hot Pepper Spread: Hot peppers, soybean oil, cauliflower, carrots, red bell peppers, crushed red pepper, spices, vinegar, salt. May contain potassium sorbate, sulfites, benzoate.
Prices: $5.49 for a 32 ounce jar of giardiniera, $4.99 for a pint of hot pepper spread.
Where to Get Giardiniera from Tony's Deli and Sub: We're sad to report they don't sell online. But that's just a fantastic reason to go visit them in Edison Park to pick up the jars yourself. Bring the credit card. If you're like us, you might go a little nuts and run up a big tab in the best way. MARCH 2015 AWESOME UPDATE: We just heard from them that they ship their giardiniera to anywhere in the United States! Call 773-631-0055 to place your order!
Tony's Italian Beef (Chicago, West Lawn Neighborhood)
While the kids were focused on crafting tasty Italian beef sandwiches, their Gramps created the unique giardiniera recipe. It's far from traditional Chicago style - there are circular carrots and sliced jalepeno peppers (they go heavy on the jalepenos), chickpeas (?!) and whole sport peppers in their mix.
While it's not on our top lists, some people swear by it. Lots of cops eat here, which is always a good sign of affordable, delicious food. We think it's worth the culinary dive to try this giardiniera that's done a little (a lot) differently.
Where you can buy Tony's Italian Beef Giardiniera: They offer local catering where you can get beefs and giardiniera sent to your house by the pound (a favorite for South Side birthday and grad parties), but we're sorry to report that they don't ship out any of their products. If you live in Chicago and want to bring their giardiniera home, you can buy a 16-ounce container for $4.50 at the counter.
Tufano's Vernon Park Tap (Chicago, University Village/Little Italy Neighborhood)
This place is an old-school Italian restaurant with some really great signature dishes. They've been in the same building in Little Italy since 1930 (now the neighborhood is named "University Village"). Lemon chicken sounds boring, I know, but folks swear by it here. They are also a destination for a good sausage and peppers dinner. They've grown a lot, especially since being featured on Diners, Drive ins and Dives.
There is giardiniera (and hot red pepper flakes) on each table and it's all homemade. The veggies aren't super crisp, but the oil and vinegar mix is tasty and we love just having it right by our side so we can dump it on whatever we feel like.
Do yourself a favor and have yourself a solid meal with a nice side of giard.
How to Buy Tufano's Giardiniera: Their table giardiniera is not available via retail or online, so you'll just have to get down to their restaurant to experience it yourself.
Tuscan Garden (ALDI's Brand)
We love ALDI. They have some good in-house brands, and their giardiniera is no exception. The hot isn't too spicy, coming in at a 5.5/10. The spice hits you a little after you take the first bite. The mild version is very timid and good for people who don't want any heat.
There are no olives in this mix. None! You don't come across that often. But I guess it's a way for them to be able to sell it so cheap. Don't expect any olive flavors from this jar.
When just tasting the soybean oil and vinegar mix itself, it tastes watered down and it doesn't hold much heat. There's a saltiness that stays coated in your mouth for a while after you eat it.
The veggies have a fine crunch. We like that there's a lot of hot peppers, but it'd be nice to have more crinkle-cut carrots in the mix. Altogether it's a fine option and you really can't beat that $2.19 price. Thanks to Michael K for the bottle!
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by ALDI, Inc. (Batavia, IL)
Ingredients: Soybean oil, select hot peppers (for hot mix), celery, cauliflower, carrots, vinegar, spices, salt and sodium benzoate as preservative.
Price: $2.19 for a 16 ounce bottle.
Where to Buy: You can pick up a jar at any ALDI grocery store. Use their store locator tool to find one near you.
This giardiniera comes from Phil Stefani, who is a well-respected chef and has many restaurants in Chicago including Tuscany and Tavern on Rush. The soybean and vinegar blend is a little on the generic side, but it does the job. This is another giardiniera that uses pimentos. The hot: Heat-wise it has a slight bite, but it won't come close to blowing your pants off if that's what you're looking for. If you're looking for fine giard that has a touch of spice, this will work. You can buy it on Amazon, it appears you can only buy it in cases.
Victoria Brand (from J.P. Graziano's in Chicago's West Loop Neighborhood)
This is a top-tier giardiniera and you won't find many people willing to argue that. The stand-out feature is the well-pickled veggies (carrots, olives, celery, red bell peppers and cauliflower) that deliver a decent crunch and hold their own in even the juiciest beef sammies.
It uses vegetable oil and serrano peppers and the hot version is pretty spicy, which we adore -- a solid 7 out of 10 on the spice-o-meter. It's not immediate, but it's a heat that lingers and keeps you warm on those cold Chicago days. They also have a mild giardiniera, which is pretty darn good too if you ask us. The heat on that puppy is a low 2.5 out of 10.
Jim Graziano, the 4th generation owner, told us their hot version outsells their mild almost 10 to 1. They go through four or five 5-gallon-pails of hot mix each month in their sub shop alone. Count walk-ins and online sales, and they're selling 4,480-4,800 ounces of hot giardiniera each month.
Their Story: This giard's roots started in the 1950s at the famed J.P. Graziano sub shop at 1376 W. Grand Ave (the shop's since moved to 901 West Randolph Street). One of their customers would buy the oil, veggies and spices from J.P. Graziano's and then would go home and make this delicious giardiniera in her basement. It's not packed our of Wisconsin by Ripon. They lovingly took her recipe under their wing and it's been selling like hotcakes ever since. (FYI: It used to live under the Monte Carlo brand name, but that name was sold many years ago.)
Location: 901 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by J.P. Graziano Grocery Co.
Ingredients: Serrano pepper (hot version), celery, red bell pepper, cauliflower, carrot, olive, vegetable oil, salt, oregano and garlic.
Price: $8.50 for a 32 ounce bottle.
Good News - You Can Buy Victoria Brand Hot and Mild Giardiniera Online: Head over to J.P. Graziano's website to buy their hot giardiniera and check out their other awesome grocery items. If you're in Chicago and you eat food, this is a must-stop shop for you.
Vienna Beef Giardiniera
Vienna is a Chicago legend known for it's encased meats, but it's also loved for its giardinera. It has no cauliflower! Cauliflower haters wind up flocking to this well-known brand.
What you'll find in the jar: serrano peppers, celery, carrots, red peppers and olives. We admire the sharp bite we get with the vinegar and the crunch of the veggies.
It could be a lot spicier for our taste and the spices don't taste like they're of the highest quality (you barely notice them at all), but if you're eating your way through the giardiniera world, you can't miss out on trying this Chicago staple.
P.S. If you're in Chicago, we highly suggest taking the Vienna Beef hotdog tour at their northside Chicago factory at 2501 N. Damen Ave. They're super proud of their operation and it's a ton of fun.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Distributed by Chipico, a division of Vienna Beef LTD
Ingredients: Serrano peppers (hot version), soybean/olive oil blend, celery, carrots, red bell peppers, olives, spices, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride and sodium benzoate as a preservative.
Prices: They sell a variety 4-pack for $24.95 (16 ounce of hot and mild giardiniera and 12 ounces of sport peppers and green relish), which is a better deal than Amazon usually has (see current Amazon prices below).
Where to Buy Vienna Giardiniera Online: You can buy online at Amazon (typically more pricey) or you can go to their site and buy their variety pack for $24.95. They also sell at many stores, so checkout their store and product locator tool before you pay for shipping.
Visconti is another brand that adds pimentos to their mix. They have a soybean oil and vinegar base with bell peppers, hot pepers, carrots, cauliflower, green olives, salt olives and celery. It's sweeter than most but it does the job.
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Packed for R&V Imports, LLC (Lake Forest, IL)
Ingredients: Select hot peppers (hot mix), select bell peppers (mild mix), soybean oil, carrots, cauliflower, celery, olives, vinegar, salt olives, pimentos, spices.
Price: $3.46 for a 16 ounce bottle of giardiniera.
Where to buy Visconti Giardinieras: Load them into your shopping cart here.
Vito and Nicks Pizzeria (Chicago, Ashburn Neighborhood)
Vito and Nicks makes their own giardiniera. Of course they do. They make everything with delicious warm, cheesy and greasy loooove. This is the one of the (if not THE) best thin crust pizza joints in the universe. If you haven't been there yet, put on your stretchy pants right now and drive on down to 8433 South Pulaski Road. (Heads up: they're cash only.)
The restaurant still has the same tan/green/gray carpet on the walls that I remember as a kid 25+ years ago. It also has the "same" delightful old dudes at the counter eating pizza, drinking Old Styles and talking White Sox shop.
This is a Chicagoan's pizza place through and through. It's also the safest place in the city because there's always a bunch of cops grabbing a pie (cut in squares of course).
Now back to the hot peppers - their giardiniera is made at an off-site location, but they use the same recipe they created decades ago. It delivers a solid crunch and the soybean and vinegar oil mix seeps in perfectly to their thin crust pizzas.
They use jalapeno peppers instead of serranos, which is a twist we like and it gives the giard a good bite. There's also a slight sourness that really works. You'll dig the hot peppers. You'll be blown away by the pizza. You'll never be the same again, basically. Let us know when you're heading over. We'll happily meet you there.
Location: 8433 South Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL
Manufacturing/Bottling Information: Manufactured by E. Formella & Sons
Price: $8.23 (tax included) for a 16 ounce pint and $12.07 (tax included) for a 32 ounce quart. Get the quart. Trust us.
Where to Get Vito and Nicks Giardiniera: You can only buy it at their restaurant. There's a hot and mild (go hot!).
Wegman's Italian Classics Giardiniera (Traditional Antipasto Style)
Wegman's wanted to get in the antipasto game, so they came up with this mix. It's a little tangier than most traditional antipasto giardinieras, but it's nothing to write home about. When we label it "Traditional Italian Antipasto Style", it means it ain't our beloved Chicago style giardiniera. There's a link below to order it on Amazon if you're looking for an antipasto side dish, but we can't really vouch for it because it's just not our thing.
Ziyad Giardiniera Hot Mix
This hot mix has some heat, but it comes in around a 6 out of 10. It's a salty mix and we wish it had more vinegar. Still, this tends to be a favorite amongst people who look for a good salty brine. You can buy it through Amazon if you want to get it shipped to you:
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