Author Topic: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.  (Read 19098 times)

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Dan

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Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« on: October 22, 2003, 06:36:41 PM »
Hi,

My favorite pizza in Champaign, Il, is Monicals but a close second is Garcias in Champaign, Illinois.  I think they have spread out to a pretty wide area, now.  Their pizza is a deep dish pizza that has a great taste.
It's been a while but, they at least used to have a huge hot air ballon in the shape of a flying tomato.  That's one way to get write off your expensive  hobby to advertising.

You can buy it by the slice from most of their stores or whole pies that weigh what seems like a ton, they are HEAVY!!!  

My favorite is the Gut Buster.  ;D  It has Crushed Tomato Sauce, Cheese, Sausage, Pepperoni, Onions, and Green Pepper on it.  Possibly mushrooms, too, it's now been over a decade since I've been back there to have some of it.  We moved down to the St Louis area where they just do not know how to make a good pizza.  :'(

Champaign, being a large college town, is full of great pizza places of all different styles.   I guess we need to plan a trip back up there to see if all of the pizzas are as great as my memory thinks.

Monicals, Garcias, Pap Dels, Village Inn, and a bunch of other great places.  The bad thing is that some of the local stores are being pushed out by the big chains and their cheap, low quality pizzas.


Dan...
 :D


Offline Steve

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2003, 07:01:19 PM »
My favorites are Papa Del's for thick crust and Village Inn for thin crust. I miss Champaign!
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Dan

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2003, 12:49:44 AM »
I still prefer Monicals for thin crust, but Village Inn is great too.  They were the source of my very first bite of pizza back around 1965.  I didn't think I would like pizza from the smell of the place at the time.  Now the smell drives me crazy with hunger.

I've even got a copy of the Playboy that has shots of the Playboy Playmate Centerfold eating pizza at the Village Inn in Champaign.  I haven't seen in in years but it seems like it was shot in the late '60s.  She was a coed at the U of I.

Dan...

Offline Steve

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2003, 07:51:27 AM »
Look under the Cooking Techniques and Recipes topic on this forum for the thread titled "The Ultimate Thin (Cracker) Crust". That recipe is very close to the Village Inn pizza. It's a better recipe than the one that I have on the main website (I plan to update the recipe there soon).
« Last Edit: October 23, 2003, 07:52:27 AM by Steve »
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Offline YoMomma

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2004, 12:01:41 PM »
sigh...I still dream about those days of Garcia's (best thick crust) and Monical's (best thin crust - ever) back in the 70's.  Does anyone remember Garcia's pizza delivery cars? -  a   bright red Pacer with a giant green stem on top, to look like a big tomato?  The baloons were neat too.  

Jim

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2004, 07:37:09 PM »
Yes Garcia's was the best, but I hate to let the air out of your balloon....It now is completely different.
I went down there in 2003, ...no longer a deep dish, it's a thin, very thin fast food pizza.
Any frozen pizza that you can find in your local grocery store will beat the pants off of what they are trying to pass off as pizza.
I was so depressed...it was really sad.

Offline YoMomma

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2004, 06:46:52 PM »
 :'(

Tyrad

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2004, 11:42:59 PM »
I was one of the managers at the Green Street Garcia's way back in the day.  Left there in 1984, because they really started to treat the employees like crud.  At the time, that store was treated by the owners like the red-headed stepchild, we did too well to shut down, but never well enough for them to praise us for doing a good job.  They had another shop on Lincoln avenue which was only open evenings, and that store was basically ignored by the owners.  I think they only kept it open to keep a hold of the commercial space, it didn't do too well financially, until a friend of mine took over the management helm and started to really innovate at that store and turned it into a powerhouse.  The diamond in the crown of the empire was the Wright Street store which sold only slices, and turned a fat profit.  They started opening up shops all over the place in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, even Texas.  I think they got a bit too big for their britches, though.  Eventually their oppressive general management chased my friend away from the Lincoln Avenue store, and it returned to its former poor performance.  Then all their satellite stores started declining and getting shut down.  Last time I was in Champaign I was shocked to discover that all that was left of the once mighty Garcia's Flying Tomato Empire (which I want to say numbered at the peak at 18 restaurants) was three stores, two of which were located far from the U of I campus out in the suburbs of Champaign.  The only 'historical' Garcia's left is my old haunt, the one on Green Street, both the Lincoln avenue and powerhouse Wright street store were shut down.
I'm sure the rise and decline of Garcia's would make a great doctoral thesis for some economics major.

Offline JRD

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2004, 07:54:29 PM »
I went to school down at U of I from '95 until '99. Garcia's on Wright St. right off of the Quad was my favorite haunt for lunch. Slice of pepperoni pizza, breadsticks, and a Coke. Sit upstairs by the window for a nice view. I loved their sauce...it had a sweetness to it that I've never tasted anywhere else.

Like the last poster said; last time I visited, the Wright and the Lincoln location were both gone, which was a bit of a shock when I wandered out of the Union during a conference in search of my usual lunch haunt.  Oh well...was good while it lasted.

Offline Steve

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2004, 08:28:49 AM »
I'll be passing through Champaign-Urbana this Spring on my way out to Wisconsin. I plan to spend one day un C-U visiting old friends and eating pizza. My first stop will be Papa Dels. I'd also like to squeeze in a thin crust Villiage Inn pizza and a Garcia's pizza.  :)
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Offline Randy

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2004, 04:34:16 PM »
Take plenty of pictures.
 8)
Randy

Offline DKM

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Re:Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2004, 01:24:11 PM »
Take good detailed notes!!!!

DKM
I'm on too many of these boards

Bill

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2005, 08:22:38 PM »
I think Papa Del's is the best in town currently.  The comments about Garcia's are sadly true, although I understand they still have deep dish pizza.  I hear the slices are a bit iffy, but the whole pans are still good.  A friend who goes there tells me to order a specialty slice, that way it's always fresh.  One of my job duties is to call Papa Del's and order the pizzas for our bi-weekly staff meetings.

Jeff

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2005, 03:13:56 AM »
The best pizza- hands down- in Champaign can be had at Manzella's on First St. (I think). It's absolutely fantastic. Papa Del's is good, too. VIllage is is good. Monical's - not my cup of tea. I also had a decent pie form a place called Bonnie Jean's. I never did make it to Garcia's, unfortunately.

Jeff

Offline lilbuddypizza

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2005, 10:09:11 AM »
I did a lot of research and found that the owner of CHEESE TO PLEASE in Wilmette, IL use to be a manager at Garcia's. Word on the Net is that this is good(haven't tried it yet), and I even wrote to the owner. I inquired about ordering by FedEX, and he sent the following reply:
Thanks for contacting me. I actually still keep in contact with Ralph and Joe from Garcia's. You would be correct if you assumed that Cheese To Please Pizza tastes more like the Garcia's of 20 years ago than even Garcia's today does. Unfortunately I sold my restaurant to my two managers over two years ago but I am sure that they still do make it the exact same way that I used to and it really is great. Why don't you give them a call for more information, the number is 847-256-6550.
                                                          Good luck and thanks for inquiring.

Offline Goobie78

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2006, 12:11:22 AM »
Thin crust - MONICAL'S hands-down the best.  My personal favorite is their Italian Special with sausage, onion, mushroom, green olives, and peppercinis. 

Thick crust - PAPA DEL's all the way!

Other good pizzas are to be had at MANZELLA'S, a little old place just a bit north of campustown, and PRIME TIME.  This is a carry-out/delivery only place that has a good stuffed pizza.

Other posters are correct in saying GARCIA'S isn't worth it anymore.  I honestly don't know of anyone who still eats there. 

 

Offline steveA

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2006, 04:09:56 PM »
I worked at the Lincoln Avenue store in '77 and '78.  I actually drove one of those Pacers with the green stems.  Boy those cars where beat to crap after about 5,000 miles.  I'd love to have a picture of one of 'em.

Offline kk7ac

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2006, 01:29:04 PM »
... I grew up in Champaign and still go there about 3 weeks each year. My grandpa owned the U of I Campus Store (open from 1937-1987) at the corner of Wright and Green, and directly south and above my grandpas store was Garcias (the building was and is a 3 story that connects on the 3rd floor). My grandpa would "horse trade" his stuff (as those of you who know my grandpas store, he had everything) for pizza by the slice, of which I would eat. Ralph and Joe were good friends with my grandpa.  So I grew up on the stuff as I hung aound that great corner store most of my childhood. That Garcias closed as I recall in 1998. At one time, that had a small store just down the street from my house in SW Champaign at the old In and Out on Mattis and Henry that was open from 1985 to 1996 or so.

The only 2 that remain is (a very aged and in need of some serious upgarades ---its still got that funky 1970's style wood..wicker like atmosphere that is water damaged and dirty..I go thru the drive thru there!!) location on 1st and Green and the old VW dearlership building at Univeristy and Mattis (north of anothe rgreat C-U pizza place, Monicals).

Another interesting point is my mom, who was very good friends of Ralph and Joe (the owners and inventors of the pizza) designed the flying tomato for them in 1973. She drew the tomato with the wings on them. In fact about 10 years ago my mom was going through some old stuff in storage and found many colored pencile drawings of tomatoes with legs and wings of the like that they use as their trademark even today.

The current state of Garcias today is not good from what I hear. In fact, the only locations left are the 2 in C-U and maybe one more in Normal? Athough the pizza by the slice does not seem as good as it was 20 years ago, I cant resist getting at least 2 or 3 cheese slices when I'm there. Now, the best pizza intown as far as I'm concerned, is at the Old Orchard bowling alley on south 45 and Monicals in Urbana.  Papa Dels on Green is awesome, and I ate some this October when I was there.

Cardinals....10 time world champs!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline PizzaNick

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2010, 12:24:05 AM »
Thin crust - MONICAL'S hands-down the best.  My personal favorite is their Italian Special with sausage, onion, mushroom, green olives, and peppercinis. 

Thick crust - PAPA DEL's all the way!

Other good pizzas are to be had at MANZELLA'S, a little old place just a bit north of campustown, and PRIME TIME.  This is a carry-out/delivery only place that has a good stuffed pizza.

Other posters are correct in saying GARCIA'S isn't worth it anymore.  I honestly don't know of anyone who still eats there. 



Wanted to say X3 on Manzella's, aka Manzella's Italian Patio.  excellent pizza as well as all their other food.

and also saddened to hear about Garcia's.  but thankfully after some experimenting and going off a memory of pizza i havent eaten for 10+years, i dont think ill ever want to buy a Garcia's slice again.  I'll just make my own.  its close enough for me at the very least. ;D
 
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 12:28:49 AM by PizzaNick »

Offline mrmojo1

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Re: Garcia's Pizza - The Flying Tomato Bros.
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2010, 11:13:20 PM »
hey pizzanick your garcia's pizza looks really great!  ive been trying to clone using the frugal gourmet recipe cornmeal crust some one posted on the chicago pizza folder.  not bad.  hows your sauce  i use 6-1 some sugar, garlic powder, basil, pepper....its ok but doesnt have that sweet bite that the real garcias had...are you having any luck cloning the sauce? any hints? how does your crust taste? thanks a ton!!!