Author Topic: Garcia's Pizza  (Read 97129 times)

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Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #60 on: August 15, 2008, 12:58:05 AM »
OK, here is the recipe that I worked up back in 1975 along with a gal friend that worked at Garcia's.  I always intended to open a pizza place out here in Seattle. I even bought a big gas fired oven.  But that was long ago.

Dough for a 12" pizza:
Combine: 1 Cup warm water, 1 pkg dry yeast, let work.
Add to the above: 2 Tbl sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbl olive oil.
Add to the above: 1/2 untoasted wheat germ, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 3 - 4 cups of flour.
The key ingredients are the untoasted wheat germ and cinnamon.  That is the source of the faintly sweet flavor.

Sauce:
1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes
1 small can Hunt's tomato paste
1 Tbl Oregano
3/4 Tbl sweet basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
shy 1/4 tsp salt
strong 1/4 tsp black pepper
crushed red peppers to taste (a dash)
Combine ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes
I can't get Hunt's out here and I don't like any of the other stewed tomatoes that I have tried.

Assembly Instructions:

Press the dough into the pan leaving a slight roll around the perimeter.  Line the shell formed with thinly sliced mozzarella over lapping edges to seal off crust.  Cover the cheese with sauce, add toppings then add grated 3 cheese blend.  The cheese should be a mozzarella, provolone, cheddar blend.  60/20/20. Bake at 400-450 until cheese and crust is brown.

I sure hope you like this recipe and find that it brings back memories of Garcia's.  It isn't exactly the same, but it is pretty close.   :chef:


Offline Essen1

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #61 on: August 15, 2008, 01:14:02 AM »
Wildwood,

If you have Safeway in your area, you're able to get your hands on Hunt's. Or try an affiliate of Safeway, if you don't have it, such as Randall's or Von's.
Mike

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."  - Albert Einstein

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Offline loowaters

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #62 on: August 15, 2008, 08:58:27 AM »
How much of that untoasted wheat germ are we to use?  You say it's an important ingredient but it just gives us 1/2. 

And there's got to be better alternatives to Hunts.  I've yet to find a Hunts product I've liked.
Using pizza to expand my waistline since 1969!

Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #63 on: August 15, 2008, 11:52:16 AM »
Concerning the Hunt's stewed tomatoes.  I think the reason that I liked the Hunt's was because it didn't come with a bunch of other added flavors.  It was pretty much just canned tomatoes.  Most of the other products that I see have other ingredients like seasoning or other vegetables.  If you have access to fresh stewed tomatoes from your garden, great!  Out where I live, there isn't enough sun or warmth to grow a decent tomato.  It might be what I miss the most about the midwest.

Concerning the availability.  My regular grocery store is Safeway.  They do have Hunts products, just not stewed tomatoes.  I have also shopped QFC, Albertsons, and many of the other Associated Grocers stores in the area.  The product is just hard to find.

Bottom line, start the sauce with an unflavored, or minimally flavored cooked tomato product, with chunks.

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #64 on: August 15, 2008, 03:42:49 PM »
wildwood_players,

I worked for QFC for many years and in my position there, I often special-ordered products for customers.  IF Kroger hasn't completely ruined their customer service (for which we were legendary!)... and, if they still carry Hunt's products, you should ask to speak to the manager in charge.  IF QFC is still the company I remember, your request should not be a problem.  They should order it for you with a smile!

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

Offline rkalmar

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #65 on: August 31, 2008, 09:31:47 PM »
So...

I made the pizza.  I am not sure if this recipe was for the Gut-Buster type pan pizza or for the Pizza-by-the-slice pizza.  My dough seemed more like the Pizza-by-the-slice type, but since the sauce was the same for both, the dough may have been too (I had friends that worked at the one on The Ohio State University campus, so I know some things about how the made things, just not the real ingredients...  I ate there just about every other day and night).  In any case, I made the Gut-Buster.  It was GREAT!!!  It did not taste JUST like The Flying Tomato, but I found hints of it throughout...

Dough in a 10 inch cake pan up the sides, layer of motz slices, layer of pep, layer of sauce, layer of grated cheese mix to fill it up, layer of sauce (let it cook for longer w/o burning the cheese), bake at 450 until the sauce starts to look very, very dry...  YUM !

The sauce I made was a little spicier than I remember; either too much pepper or crushed red pepper...  more likely the crushed red pepper.  Other than that, the 2 unflavored Hunts ingredients worked out well.

The dough I made was very bread-like.  It was soft and maybe a little sweeter than what I remember.  It was, however, really tasty :-)

The Gut-Buster I remember had some sort of "buttery-garlic tang" in the cheese mix maybe.  I am not sure.  I really did enjoy making it and it was very good.  I will make this again for certain and I will adjust the things I named above.  I may lower the amount of wheat-germ (used 1/2 cup toasted, could not find raw/untoasted), sugar, or cinnamon a little to lower the sweetness of the dough, then again, it was so good I may not :-)

Thanks again for posting the recipe!

Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #66 on: September 19, 2008, 05:59:24 PM »
Sorry, in my recipe I stated 1/2 untoasted Wheat Germ
That should read 1/2 Cup untoasted Wheat Germ


Offline Engineered Ceramics

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #67 on: September 21, 2008, 04:06:08 PM »
I found Bob's Red Mill makes a Natural Raw Wheat Germ.


http://www.bobsredmill.com/product.php?productid=3522&cat=0&page=1

I'm gonna have to try making the gutbuster.

Offline IEatPizzaByThePie

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #68 on: September 22, 2008, 03:17:55 AM »
Did the dough go into a proofer after this? How exactly was the rise done?



OK, here is the recipe that I worked up back in 1975 along with a gal friend that worked at Garcia's.  I always intended to open a pizza place out here in Seattle. I even bought a big gas fired oven.  But that was long ago.

Dough for a 12" pizza:
Combine: 1 Cup warm water, 1 pkg dry yeast, let work.
Add to the above: 2 Tbl sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbl olive oil.
Add to the above: 1/2 untoasted wheat germ, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 3 - 4 cups of flour.
The key ingredients are the untoasted wheat germ and cinnamon.  That is the source of the faintly sweet flavor.

Sauce:
1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes
1 small can Hunt's tomato paste
1 Tbl Oregano
3/4 Tbl sweet basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
shy 1/4 tsp salt
strong 1/4 tsp black pepper
crushed red peppers to taste (a dash)
Combine ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes
I can't get Hunt's out here and I don't like any of the other stewed tomatoes that I have tried.

Assembly Instructions:

Press the dough into the pan leaving a slight roll around the perimeter.  Line the shell formed with thinly sliced mozzarella over lapping edges to seal off crust.  Cover the cheese with sauce, add toppings then add grated 3 cheese blend.  The cheese should be a mozzarella, provolone, cheddar blend.  60/20/20. Bake at 400-450 until cheese and crust is brown.

I sure hope you like this recipe and find that it brings back memories of Garcia's.  It isn't exactly the same, but it is pretty close.   :chef:
"I looked at the serving size: two slices. Who the hell eats two slices? I eat pizza by the pie! Two pies is a serving size!!"

Offline MWTC

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #69 on: September 22, 2008, 12:10:31 PM »

Sauce:
1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes
1 small can Hunt's tomato paste
1 Tbl Oregano
3/4 Tbl sweet basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
shy 1/4 tsp salt
strong 1/4 tsp black pepper
crushed red peppers to taste (a dash)
Combine ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes
I can't get Hunt's out here and I don't like any of the other stewed tomatoes that I have tried.


What size are you talking about?

"1 can Hunt's Stewed Tomatoes"

MWTC  :chef:


Offline rkalmar

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #70 on: September 24, 2008, 05:51:34 PM »
FWIW, I used the 6oz can of paste, and the 14.5oz of tomatoes (stewed, diced, and steam pealed or something like that)...

This allowed me to make one 9inch GutBuster with sauce in the middle and on top, and a second with it only in the middle.  I can't remember if the GutBuster had sauce in the middle, but I remember it on top, but I did not realize that until I ran out of sauce for the top of the second one.

I will try again this weekend...

Also, make sure you get good cheese.  No part skim, low moisture, etc...  That stuff does not melt in the middle.  Also, if you don't use sauce in the middle, I guess I think there must be some seasoning in the cheese, but not sure what, exactly...

Anyway... that leaves more questions for all, but, this recipe is an excellent start !

Offline Engineered Ceramics

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #71 on: September 24, 2008, 10:03:17 PM »
I think I found a photo of Garcia's from 2007.

Apparently they have a store open in Champaign, IL.

Offline Rich

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #72 on: October 19, 2008, 01:09:18 PM »
Hi guys, I lived in Champaign for a year in 1990-91 and I loved the pizzas down there.  Monicals was good, Garcia's was great (I usually don't care for that kind of dough, but it was addiciting) and my favorite (and still in my top 3 ever) Timpone's in Urbana on Goodwin (East side of the Quad).  I grew up in Skokie and Highland Park, IL (Chicago suburbs) and am into pizza big time. 

I came back to this site today because I'm heading to Normal, IL later today and I wanted to have some Garcia's which I probably haven't had in 10 years.  It's sad to read about the demise of this chain.  It sounds like their not in Normal at all anymore. 

But I might be even luckier in the long run if the place I found pans out (pun intended).  Cheese To Please Pizza in Willmette, IL might be the closest thing to Garcia's original recipe and if it is, it's only 15 minutes from my house! 

From their webiste:

 Today, Cheese To Please is Wilmette's oldest pizza restaurant. Here is how it all began.....

   
    What started as a part time college job at the University of Illinois in 1973 at Garcia's pizza has turned into a 20 year love affair for me to keep the wonderful people of the North Shore fed with great pizza.

     It started when I was eating pizza, literally, every night in college. I decided that I might as well work at my favorite pizza place so that I could get a discount on the pizza. After a semester of delivering pizzas, I became an assistant manager of the restaurant. Ralph and Joe (The Flying Tomato Brothers) were great mentors and not only did I learn the ins and outs of producing a great pizza, but also a great deal about the value of marketing and the importance of dealing fairly with fellow employees and clients.

      After Garcia's Pizza, I moved back to the Chicago area and took a job as a structural engineer in a firm that designed power plants. For the next six years I would have parties for friends and co-workers and always served homemade pizza, made in the tradition of Garcia's. One day a friend called me up and told me about a pizza oven that was not being used by a local pizza place. After renting a trailer and picking up the oven, I began to look for a small storefront to rent in Wilmette, and began my journey. I was fortunate to find a store on Old Glenview Road and Skokie Blvd. and we opened on March 6, 1981, just six months after my daughter Bridget was born. About 4 years later, I gave up the job as an engineer and have been 'doing' pizzas ever since.

      While always maintaining a store in Wilmette, we have had stores selling Cheese To Please Pizza in Wheeling, Chicago, Woodstock and Buffalo Grove. Additionally, we have been asked to consider opening stores in Arizona, Boston, Las Vegas and Texas. But for right now, we are staying right here in Wilmette.

      When we first opened, 20 years ago, we had very limited seating and were mainly a delivery pizza place. But now, not only do we still offer quality delivery and pick-up service, we also have a new dining room that seats up to 45 people. Not only has our store expanded, but so has our menu. Our whole pizzas have 20 all-fresh toppings to choose from, and we also have sandwiches, salads, breadsticks, pastas, rib-tips, sodas, juices, and soon will be offering desserts.

      For the last 20 years, pizza has been my passion, and I gladly welcome you to come and try out our delicious pizzas and other foods.


So there you have it.  I am going to try this place ASAP and will let you know if it compares.  It sounds like our best chance!

Offline Crash101

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #73 on: December 03, 2008, 12:51:31 PM »
I used to work at Garcia's in Normal on Dale St. back in 1990-1991, even got to meet Ralph and Joe at a Christmas party! Great times were had there!!! What a fun group of people to work with!! Since then I have though about the pizza every now and then and I would randomly google Garcia's Pizza in a Pan, finally coming across this website. Wow, it was cool to know that there are other Garcia's Pizza cravers out there!! I was disappointed to find out that the pizza from the days of old does not taste like the present pizza. I was curious though about this Cheese to Please place so I contacted the former owner Howie and here is what he replied when I asked if the pizza tasted like old school Garcia's:

Hi Kevin,
    As a former Garcia's employee I thin that you'd be happy to know that Cheese To Please tastes more like the Garcia's that we remember than anything else available. I don't own it anymore, I sold it after 22 years to my 2 longtime managers and they are making it the same way that I did for all of those years.
                                                                        Howie

This has pretty much sold me on it!!!!!!! I can't wait to go and try it out!!! When I do, I will let you all know!!!!  :pizza: :pizza: :pizza:

Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #74 on: December 22, 2008, 12:44:51 AM »
Bad news indeed;

On December 10th, Garcia's on Green shut it's doors for the final time.  I would post the link to the Daily Illini article, but apparently I can't as a new member.  If you google =Garcia's on Green= you can find the article.

This may not be the final nail in the coffin, but it is certainly getting close.

This is particularly sad to me because I spent 4 years working at this location, from 80-84, two of them as a manager.  That was, looking back, the golden age for Garcia's, when it was expanding and the future looked bright.  They were opening up a number of shops across the Midwest.  Bruce Hink was overseeing an expansion beyond the midwest with the opening of the Texas stores.  Ralph and Joe had turned down a number of very good offers to franchise the Garcia's brand, wanting to keep control of the quality.  Both Ralph and Joe were living the high life, well known CU Millionaires.  Rarely seen in the trenches of the actual stores, those duties were left to their district managers, like Ed Wilhite.  One rare exception was in the introduction of the Stuffed pizzas in 1980, when they spent many a secretive night after closing time at Green Street working up a clone of Giordano's famous stuffed pizza.  
Giordano's was opening up a store in Champaign on Daniel street (or was it John?), and Ralph and Joe wanted to steal their thunder.  So in August and early September 1980 everyone had to be cleared out of the store by midnight (normal closing time on weekdays back then was 1 AM and 2 AM on weekend nights) as Ralph and Joe, like Santa's little helpers, would come in the store, and with no one around to see,  would cook up various experimental stuffed pizzas until they hit on one that was as good as Giordano's, but with it's own, distinctive Garcia's flair.  
This was only discovered because one night we had an unexpected last minute munchie crowd come in.  The modus operandi for getting us out by midnight was to do all the prep work early, break down and clean all the stations, and send everyone home leaving only a skeleton crew for the last hour or two, which worked quite well with the light business done during late summer nights.  So when this late night rush came in, the manager, Kerry Malinski and I, did the best we could, but were overwhelmed by the volume of work and just couldn't get out by midnight.  Now, no-one knew exactly what was going on, because it was all very hush-hush.  But when 12:30 rolled around, we were still putting the finishing touches on cleaning up the restaurant, and who should come strolling in but Ralph and Joe, carrying various types of pie pans and bags of spices and the like.  They were somewhat put out that we were still there and gruffly asked us to hurry up and get out.  We did, all the while pondering what sort of secret pizza experiments they were up to.  Apparently we threw them off schedule, as well, for the morning manager, Connie Hink, reported that when she arrived in the morning (and she was, for some reason, a half hour early.  Usually the morning manager would show up at 8 or so, but that particular morning she came in at 7:30)  Joe and Ralph were still cleaning up, and she said she saw what looked like very deep dish pizzas, smaller in diameter than the usual size.  These were the new stuffed pizzas, but no-one knew it yet.
It wasn't until the first week in September that we discovered what the deal was.  Certain select individuals were chosen from the Green and Lincoln Avenue shops and we spent that week in training with Ralph and Joe learning the tricks of making this newfangled stuffed Pizza.  We also did a little tweaking as well, as I recall having a few taste samplings of Giordano's and Garcia's during this training to make sure we were making , if not a superior product, one that was at least as good.  Ah, those were the days.
I wish I had thought to make a copy of the recipe for the spices used to top the stuffed pizza, because that was quite a tantalizing mix.  It was also the only recipe we had access to.  The dough came ready made from the tomato warehouse, and the sauce was made by mixing cans of stewed tomatoes and tomato paste with water and a powdery mixture also made at the warehouse.  There was a recipe manual that the head manager had access to which had the dough and sauce recipes in them in case of emergency, but I never had access to that.  I heard that most of the stores received their dough and sauce mixes from the warehouse, but a few of the outlying stores did have to make their own.
I don't know what went wrong and why this once mighty empire has fallen on such hard times, but I have my suspicions.  On the rare occasion I get back to Illinois I try to visit my old stomping grounds and get a few half-cooked pies to bring back with me to LA.  I am saddened that I will not be able to revisit this location of so many bittersweet memories.

Hamir the Hermit

Offline wildwood_players

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #75 on: December 23, 2008, 10:32:58 AM »
 :(  That certainly is sad news.  Makes me even more disappointed that I didn't make it back this summer as I had planned.  Hamir, thanks for the story on the stuffed pie work. 

Offline BigR

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #76 on: January 31, 2009, 08:20:29 PM »
I worked for Garcia's for over four years in the 80's, two as store manager.  Unfortunately I did not get the "emergency use" recipes for the sauce and dough.  I have been kicking myself for years for not having the foresight to get these recipes.  Now that I found wildwood's recipes I plan on trying them.  They do sound rather close to what I remember, except that I was thinking the sauce had a couple of additional spices.

I do remember the amounts of the main ingredients used for each.  Obviously they make an awful lot, but can be adapted for wildwood's recipes.

Dough: 1 bag slurry mix, 50lbs flour, 3.5 gallons water, 7 quarts vegetable oil.
Sauce: 1 bag sauce mix, 6 #10 cans whole peeled tomato, 6 #10 cans tomato sauce.
The sauce was then mixed with a chopper that would hack the tomatoes to pieces. (A long shaft with blades on the end powered by a hand drill!  A blender on chop would likely work well.)

Olive oil was not used in the dough, although many thought that it was, probably due to the rich nature of the dough.  The dough was pressed into a pan then allowed to rise at room temperature for at least an hour before making.  No proofer was needed.  In a couple of the stores extra yeast needed to be added due to local water conditions (ie a high chlorine content, which inhibited yeast growth).

For the pan pizza a layer of sliced mozzarella was put on top of the dough, then sauce, then toppings, then the cheese, as per wildwood's instructions.  The top cheese was a blend of mozzarella, low-skim mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and romano (as I recall; it's been awhile).  The sausage was a custom mix with lots of black pepper.

What is referred to as the "gutbuster" above is actually the stuffed pizza.  The Gutbuster was Garcia's copyrighted name for their house special combo: sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, green peppers, and onions.  You could get a Gutbuster in a pan or a stuffed pie.

For the stuffed pizza, butter the inside of a high-sided cake pan (7"-10", about 1.5" high), put corn meal in the pan and swish it around until fairly well coated; dump excess corn meal.  Then fit the bottom dough to the pan, put the top dough on a flat sheet, and allow both to rise (at room temperature at least an hour) before making the pie.  Then the toppings, except pepperoni, are layered with cheese blend between each topping.  Before the top tough is put on add a bit of cheddar and parmesan, and, as I recall, drizzle some olive oil.  If pepperoni is used it goes on the top dough before the sauce.  The top spice mix goes on top of the sauce.  I remember the top spice mix using powdered rosemary, powdered thyme, and garlic powder.  I think likely some basil as well.  I was thinking that there was five ingredients in the mix, but once again it's been awhile and I cannot remember for sure what all went in it.  After the top spice mix drizzle some olive oil.  When baking, insert two or three aluminum baking pins at an angle into the pie (well cleaned 10p nails can be used); these help get heat into the interior.

If anyone tries any of these please let me know how it turned out, and any alterations you may have used that worked well.

Offline Deacon Volker

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #77 on: January 31, 2009, 11:17:18 PM »
Sadly I picked up a cheese slice and a Gutbuster slice a couple weeks back from their lone remaining outlet on Mattis Ave..  Sad, just sad.  I did have a half hour drive home where I reheated the slices on a stone in the oven but best I can say is their current product bears very little resemblance to what we are all waxing over.  Nothing special in the crust as far as taste nor structure, in fact my wife and I both remarked it tasted sadly little different from a Stouffer's French Bread frozen pizza.

They closed off the Green Street store but are planning to open a "replacement" inside a County Market (local grocery chain) that is opening soon on Springfield Ave. at the ground floor of a new residential tower.  But frankly, unless Joe and Ralph pull it together soon I don't think it would matter if they give it away.  Bring back the original recipes please and forget all this convenience store/movie theater crap.

Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #78 on: February 01, 2009, 01:53:19 AM »
Those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it.  Anyone remember the ill-fated experiment when they had that Garcia's operating on the second floor of Bromeley Hall in C-U?  Sounds kind of similar.


They closed off the Green Street store but are planning to open a "replacement" inside a County Market (local grocery chain) that is opening soon on Springfield Ave. at the ground floor of a new residential tower.


Also, don't recall if anyone mentioned this earlier, but there was a specific order of ingredients when making the Pan Pizza.  As someone mentioned earlier, sliced mozzarella was put on the dough before the sauce.  Sausage, in small dollops, was put on top of this sliced cheese before the sauce.  Then the sauce, followed by pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, spices (a dash of salt, black pepper and oregano) and onions, in that order.  They also offered green and black olives, and these were put on between the mushrooms and peppers.  Then it was topped off with grated mozzarella.  The final touch was to put a smattering of Parmesan cheese right in the center.

Also, when we were making the stuffed pizzas, the pepperoni (actually called Pizzaroni, because they were made out of beef, not pork.  I believe that Ralph or Joe wanted to offer one meat choice that was not pork) was put on after the sauce and spices, but was topped off with an ultra thin layer of sauce to prevent burning.  They may have changed this procedure later in the game.

Offline lilbuddypizza

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #79 on: February 01, 2009, 08:56:30 PM »
Those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it.  Anyone remember the ill-fated experiment when they had that Garcia's operating on the second floor of Bromeley Hall in C-U?  Sounds kind of similar.

WHOA! When was that??? I was at Bromley from 85-87. I never would have left the building had it been there at my time. It's so sad when a great pizza joint closes and there's no chance of getting the recipe.
If anyone has tried Cheese To Please, let us know. They are in Wilmette, and I am by Midaway Airport. I guess it wouldn't be a horrible drive ( maybe 1-1 1/2 hrs.), but I only have 4-5 hours of free time between getting home and going back to bed. I once had a carrier/delivery service bring me some sausage from Paulina's Market up North, and it only cost me like 18, 20 bucks. To me, worth it.