Author Topic: Garcia's Pizza  (Read 99984 times)

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Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #80 on: February 02, 2009, 03:49:29 PM »
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.

I lived in Bromely in room 618 the '78-79 school year.  The second floor was made up of private rooms utilized by a police academy, officers came from various parts of the state (country?) to undergo ongoing Peace Enforcement Training.  There was also a communal part of the second floor which general residents had access to, and a large room with some beat up pinball machines.  Apparently, the year before (and perhaps a few previous to that) Ralph and Joe had operated a delivery operation out of that room.  Looking back at it, it was pretty small for a restaurant operation.  So maybe it was that they had ready-made pies delivered to the room to be sold by the slice.  I just remember there were still a few Garcia's artifacts left in the room.


Offline RSMBob

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #81 on: February 07, 2009, 01:53:35 PM »
I was at Bromley hall for 2 years right after that (fall '79 to spring '81) and don't recall that. The 2nd floor had the Law Enforcement trainees, but the only other thing I remember was a small ice cream/cookie shop...they did make a pretty incredible chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwich!

At Bromley it was a short trek acorss the parking lot to The Illini Inn with Willie's Thick N Cheesy coming down the pizza elevator shaft!

Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #82 on: February 07, 2009, 08:08:27 PM »
Hmm...  Trying to remember.  I think that the Ice Cream place had taken up the space vacated by Garcia's?  It may have been there when I was there, but I don't recall that being the case. It does sound somewhat familiar, so either it started up in the spring session, '79, or fall session '79.  I still had friends I visited on the sixth floor in that '79-'80 school year, and may have seen it then.

Ah, yesssss.... Willie's Thick and Sleazy, as we used to call it....  I don't even remember how it tasted, just that nickname we gave it.


I was at Bromley hall for 2 years right after that (fall '79 to spring '81) and don't recall that. The 2nd floor had the Law Enforcement trainees, but the only other thing I remember was a small ice cream/cookie shop...they did make a pretty incredible chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwich!

At Bromley it was a short trek acorss the parking lot to The Illini Inn with Willie's Thick N Cheesy coming down the pizza elevator shaft!

Offline Deacon Volker

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #83 on: February 07, 2009, 11:05:24 PM »
It appears the downhill slide of our once well thought of "Garcia's" is continuing.  I posted a few days back they are planning to open in a new grocery store just off campus.  Now this from the Champaign News Gazette  http://www.news-gazette.com/news/business/2009/02/06/county_market_to_sell_garcias_pizzas     It seems Joe and Ralph have dreams of having their product "fresh made" in all the County Markets grocery stores.  Note that the grocer isn't as positive they'll head that direction!  What I found most telling was the line about the deli's already having the type of ovens we use to bake our pizza.  Further cementing the fact they are satisfied with pre-made stick in a micro-wave/invection oven.  Sad.

Offline Rich

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #84 on: February 10, 2009, 12:11:35 AM »
I'm quite embarrassed to admit this, but I have yet to get over to try Cheese To Please Pizza.  Sadly, my financial situation got really bad in November and I've completely cut back on eating out, including my beloved pizzas.  I'm hoping things will pick back up soon, and then it'll be pizza time once again! 

I lived at Bromley Hall in 1990-91 and I would have been in heaven if there was a Garcia's in the same building!  (I would also have been broke!)

Offline lilbuddypizza

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #85 on: February 21, 2009, 03:51:41 AM »

Ah, yesssss.... Willie's Thick and Sleazy, as we used to call it....  I don't even remember how it tasted, just that nickname we gave it.
Willie's (once they moved to their own place West of Fourth) was thick crusted, but light. The sauce was pleasantly mediocre in taste, but the garlic that they used put it over the edge. Plenty of cheese on top too, that easily broke up when pulling a slice---not stringy. ;D :D

Offline gyozaking

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #86 on: March 08, 2009, 12:35:05 PM »
Cheese to Please is not the Holy Grail.

I came across this thread yesterday morning and had Cheese to Please last night.  The dough is slightly familiar -- very soft, chewy, doughy.  While the dough was certainly one of the best things about Garcia's, I've come across similar and I believe that the pan pizzas I used to make using Jiffy pizza crust mix weren't very far off.  The sweet sauce is the more elusive element, and C2P fails on that point.

Offline Rich

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #87 on: April 01, 2009, 11:15:27 PM »
I finally had Cheese To Please two nights ago.  It was a letdown.  First off, the place was a real dump.  It was so depressing in there that my friend and I took a walk around Wilmette in the cold rather than sit in that room.  It was dirty, ugly, and just not comfortable at all.  It felt like someone threw some tables in there as an afterthought.  But I can forgive all that if the pizza is great.  It was... decent pizza.  I might even give it one more chance because I didn't get sausage this time, but I am not in a rush.  It's been a long, long time since I had Garcia's, and maybe my mind has forgotten it, but I know this wasn't it.  What a disappointment!   

Offline Hamir the Hermit

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #88 on: May 29, 2009, 01:16:56 AM »
hmmm....So....Any relation, ya think?

garciasfamouspizza.com/new/menu_veg.asp

Offline Rich

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #89 on: June 07, 2009, 12:33:07 PM »
Cheese To Please Pizza is no longer.  I was in downtown Wilmette and they were completely vacant.  It wasn't like I planned on returning.


Offline Rich

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #90 on: June 07, 2009, 12:34:30 PM »
hmmm....So....Any relation, ya think?

garciasfamouspizza.com/new/menu_veg.asp
Umm....no. :-D

Offline Crash101

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #91 on: June 24, 2009, 03:33:30 PM »
Cheese To Please Pizza is no longer.  I was in downtown Wilmette and they were completely vacant.  It wasn't like I planned on returning.

I emailed the email address on the website and here was the response to my question of why it was closed:

Hi,
    I am very sorry to tell you the news. I am the original owner of Cheese To Please and I sold it to my 2 managers in 2003. They ran it until last month and decided to close up. It is sad but we had a great run, since 1981. Thanks for your support.
                                                                                   Howie

Offline dtortor1

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #92 on: June 29, 2009, 07:26:24 PM »
Was just up in Decatur yesterday and saw the location on Water was closed. I called information and found one near Millican University. It was just a couple pizza ovens and I was concerned because I had read on here about their plans to sell from Grocery stores which reminds me of about 7 yrs ago I drove from Decatur to Champaign because Decatur had no Garcias at the time and I met either Ralph or Joe while I was eating there.

Even got a picture! Very nice guy - they were my childhood heroes eating the pizza at Hickory Point.

Anyway, he told me then they were gonna start selling in convenience stores with special ovens. Maybe its just now coming to fruition.

The pizza was better at this little place than the last two times I came to Decatur, last March and August. Both those times i got a large gutbuster - not stuffed. It just wasn't that good but I remember the pizza was never really the same when it wasn't by the slice! Actually had my gf with me yesterday and she really liked it and I told her about the round vs square and how I just don't get why the large whole pizza isn't just a bunch of squares?

Well, this time I got slices and it was closer to what I remember and pretty good. Not nearly enough sausage which brings me to my question:

Lots of talk on here about the sauce but I think the real secret was in the way the sausage played with the onions and peppers.

Here is what I have gathered:

Sausage on the bottom, just above some cheese but below the sauce and more cheese
Use uncooked Sausage
Sausage is peppery.

And thats it. Lets talk Sausage for a bit?? Anyone have any clues? Brands that may be close? I love that stuff!

Dom
« Last Edit: June 29, 2009, 07:38:37 PM by dtortor1 »

Offline dougolf2

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #93 on: August 01, 2009, 12:09:13 AM »
On June 24, 2009 I located a Garcia's Pizza on Maryland Street in Decatur, Illinois.  In the same plaza as the WalMart.  I live in Bloomington-Normal and hadn't eaten Garcia's Pizza since they closed their shops in B/N sometime in the late 80's or early 90's.  Thus, I had to go inside and have a slice.  The pizza was okay.  Unfortunately they overcooked the bottom of the pizza, so it was slightly  crunchy/crusty.  Vintage Garcia's pizza slices were on the doughy side (Yum!).  I can actually say that one bite of the slice I had very much reminded me of the old Garcia's pizza.  If the owner can replicate that one taste across the entire pizza, they'll be on to something.  I plan to give this store another try, the next time I'm in Decatur.

Offline IEatPizzaByThePie

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #94 on: October 05, 2009, 05:44:53 AM »
Has anyone worked with this recipe more to get it closer to the real deal? So far, one alteration, according to BigR, is that vegetable oil should be used.

Anything else?


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 IEatPizzaByThePie

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #95 on: October 05, 2009, 08:58:37 PM »
I made this pizza tonight, following the directions to a 'T'. I layered the crust with deli sliced mozz and everything else.

I've never had Garcia's, recently or in the past, but I'm convinced this recipe isn't even close to the original Garcia's pizza that everyone speaks so highly of. This pizza was average at best.
"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 red bandana

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #96 on: November 07, 2009, 12:22:27 AM »
Wow, what a trip down memory lane reading this thread!  I was a store manager for Garcia's way back in '74-'75.  Kind of a shame to see both the brand and the pizza turn out like it did though I've got to say that Ralph always had a whole lot more luck over the years than he ever had any good business sense.  Joe truly was the real brains behind the operations but he always played second fiddle.  Looking back at the dark brown shag carpeting and car siding interior that was iconic to most of the original stores seems downright cheap these days even if it somehow managed to seem hip back then.  Anyone else remember the cherry red AMC Gremlins with green fiberglass leaves and stems mounted on the roof that were used for delivery?

How about the "flying tomato brothers" and their custom made hot air balloon that flew over Memorial Stadium for home games that looked like a giant tomato?  Being on the chase crew was a testament that not only was Ralph not a great business man and he was an even worse balloon pilot.  He's lucky to be alive considering some of the many crash landings.  It didn't take him long to wear out his welcome with all of the corn and bean farmers in Champaign county either.

Let's see what else there is to remember?  How about the Bromley Hall location?  Or the commissary in that decrepit old warehouse on north Neil St?  Better yet how about Ralph's Lincoln with a car phone way back before cell phones... rumor back then was it cost him a grand a month back '74 serious money then... no wonder he eventually ran out of money!  Does anyone remember the original location... the place where it all started... the place so small they served the pizza out of the door to the shop?  Or how about Ralph and Joe's renovated "mansion' over on Lincoln?  One suite for Ralph and one suite for Joe and two single guys living like that back in the mid '70's and the rumors started about them really being gay.

Couple of truths that should be known.  Neither Ralph nor Joe ever worked in the restaurant business much less pizza before going into business for themselves.  Not being a chef or even particularly inventive or creative the original recipe was simply lifted from Uno of Chicago.  Nothing magical about that.  Sausage and pepperoni were from a custom blend just for the shop though the original was eventually modified many times over the years to cut costs.  Original cheese was from Laprino and was a combination of sliced cheese on the bottom and shredded cheese on the top.  Those who ate a whole pie might remember the flavor burst with the first bite and that came from a dollop of parmesan cheese dumped in the center of the pie just before cooking.  Pizza by the slice never had that though.  So if imitation is the biggest form of flattery then from day one Garcia's gave the nod to Uno's.

Some of the earlier posters were spot on about how cheap Ralph was and that no doubt led to the eventual unravelling of the entire product.  Even by the mid '70's Ralph was already playing with the recipe and quality of the ingredients to cut costs and boost his profit and that was during the heyday.  For me, Ralph and I parted ways after the last straw when I was trying to go to bat for some long term employees who deserved a pay raise and Ralph referred to them as a peons.  I had to figure that anyone who had so little respect for his employees probably didn't think much higher of his managers either.  Last time I heard Ralph's business was so bad and he was so broke that he was cleaning bathrooms in the store himself at night after closing.  Kind of fitting after all these years for Ralph to find himself doing the same work that he considered fitting for a peon.  What goes around comes around.  Who says life isn't fair?

Offline red bandana

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #97 on: November 07, 2009, 12:39:37 AM »
Ooops,

I forgot to mention a couple of things in terms of the recipes the have been posted.  Back when I worked there the dough was prepared in a central commissary and supplied daily to each shop so no one in the shop knew the dough recipe.  We did make sauce by the batch in a huge tub that was stored in the walk-in.  Back then it was a pretty crude operation of opening a bunch of #10 cans, dumping them in the tub and then mixing it all together with an electric drill and a paint mixer attachment.  The sauce only consisted of three ingredients: stewed tomato, tomato paste, and italian seasoning.  Brand of tomato were mostly no name and would change regularly depending upon the best price Ralph could get.  There were all kinds of complaints we used to get about "fingernails" in the pizza... turns out the paint mixer attachment was tearing up the bottom of the plastic tub into what resembled fingernail clippings... just one of many Garcia's stories.

Offline SuperDuperPizza!

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #98 on: December 11, 2009, 06:12:02 AM »
Garcia's Pizza In A Pan!!! :D

Garcia's Pizza has certainly had it's share of "heydays" as well as some "downfalls" throughout the last three decades or so. From the booming success of the 1970's and 1980's to the more recent efforts of scaling back and bankruptcy.

The good news, as of this posting... one full eat-in restaurant remains in Champaign @ 313 N. Mattis Ave, Champaign, IL 61821

While the dining environment and experience might be a shadow of it's former self from it's campus days... a fireplace still lights the way to pizza in a pan or served by the slice! Personally speaking, I think the pizza's overall taste, quality, amount of toppings and chunky tomato sauce has somewhat returned to it's former glory since the downscale. Like they're starting over from scratch. In any event, if you love good pizza... I fully recommend you try it at least once!

Cravings or not, be sure to patronize the place whenever you can and help support a great pizza legacy!  8) :pizza:
« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 06:14:39 AM by SuperDuperPizza! »

Offline pizzahowie

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Re: Garcia's Pizza
« Reply #99 on: December 28, 2009, 03:07:35 PM »
To Red Bandana, 
  It sure seems as if you have a personal grudge against Garcia's and Ralph in particular. Not only that, so much of your rant is incorrect, misleading or just a downright lie. I was an every night customer and beacme an employee who delivered from Landau Place, managed at Bromley Hall and helped build Wright Street. Ralph and Joe were both excellent employers and friends.
  Seven years after graduating from U of I, I opened my own Garcia's style pizza place in Chicago's north suburbs. Both Ralph and Joe were unbelievably helpful with advice and suggestions from the day I opened and for years after that. They never were angry about me copying their style and they never asked for a penny for all of their help throughout the years. I was more than happy to help them 20 years later when the were doing a yearly festival in Decatur because they were always so helpful to me. Not only was my pizza similar to Garcia's but I patterned my management style after the Flying Tomato Brothers and I can assure you that I can include over 95% of all of my past employees as friends. My restaurants had 22 successful years while I owned them and when I sold the last of them to my 2 managers in 2003. Our quality and consistyency was a North Shore favorite for all of those 22 years. After I sold it, the new owners did their best to maintain all of our best qualities for an additional 6 years until the economy forced them to quietly leave the industry.
  I'd like to say thanks to Ralph and Joe because not only were they helpful and inspiring to me, they also were the basis for Rocky Ricoco which originated in Wisconsin and Leonardo's which was in Gainesville, Florida.
                                                          Sincerely, Cheese To Please Pizza


 

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