Giardiniera is a way of life in Chicago. The spicy pickled condiment, commonly a medley of different chiles and chopped vegetables, is perhaps most famous as a fixture for Italian beef. Recently, though, it's been on the rise as a vehicle for culinary creativity. Chefs across Chicago have put their own stamp on the local staple, making it in-house and serving it in everything from slaw to sauce.
Beef short rib and potato hash at Atwood
Like a deconstructed, brunch-themed Italian beef, the short rib and potato hash at Atwood is an apt showcase for chef Brian Millman’s house giardiniera. It’s made with apple cider vinegar, jalapeño, red peppers, carrots, celery, onion, cauliflower, green olives, oregano, celery seeds and crushed red pepper, served over a base of braised pulled short ribs, potatoes and eggs.
1 W. Washington St.; 312-368-1900
Titanic truffle tots at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
Tater tots go gourmet at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap, where the bite-sized potato fritters get tossed with Parmesan, truffle oil and Chicago-inspired giardiniera. The snack is at once spicy, pungent and indulgent, all topped with creamy aïoli to keep you coming back for more.
41 E. Superior St.; 312-266-0400
Honey buffalo sandwich at Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Giardiniera is a welcome accent to fried chicken, blue cheese and buffalo sauce, which would explain its smart presence in the honey buffalo sandwich at Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Courtesy of chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp, the sandwich showcases their housemade carrot and celery giardiniera, which gets piled with crispy chicken strips, cheese and honey buffalo sauce.
3361 N. Elston Ave.; 773-478-4000
Fried giardiniera at Forbidden Root
One of the greatest bar food innovations in recent memory is the fried giardiniera at Forbidden Root. Dusted with oregano chipotle salt, the dish contains crispy morsels of cauliflower, carrots and more, served with ranch for addictive dipping.
1746 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-929-2202
Chicago Italian beef tamale at Dia de los Tamales
Proving yet again that tamales can serve as an apt blank canvas for a world of flavors, Dia de los Tamales incorporates giardiniera in the cooking process of its Chicago Italian beef tamale. Heavy on the jalapeño and garlic, the giardiniera used by chef Keith Carlson packs more heat than most, which goes nicely with the slow-roasted beef, provolone and au jus.
939 W. 18th St.; 312-496-3057
Jake’s Giard at Southport Grocery & Cafe
One spot to snag some housemade giardiniera for take-home enjoyment is Southport Grocery & Cafe. The recipe hails from a previous manager, Jake, whose condiment also makes its way into menu items like a Cuban sandwich made with smoked brisket, ham, Swiss cheese, Dijonnaise, giardiniera and arugula on grilled challah.
3552 N. Southport Ave.; 773-665-0100
Great Balls of Fire pizza at Parlor Pizza Bar
Giardiniera and pizza go together like hot dogs and mustard. One of the exclusive items to the new Wicker Park location for crowd-pleasing Parlor Pizza Bar is a pizza dressed with zesty housemade giardiniera. It’s called the Great Balls of Fire pizza, and it’s made with San Marzano tomato sauce, beef and pork meatballs, pepperoni, Parmesan and mozzarella.
1824 W. Division St.; 872-315-3005
Brazilian beef at La Sirena Clandestina
Italian beef is the most famous application for giardiniera, and at La Sirena Clandestina, chef John Manion gives the formula a South American accent with his Brazilian beef sandwich. The beef itself is roasted tri-tip, dipped in spiced beef jus and served with housemade giardiniera with aged cheddar cheese.
954 W. Fulton Market; 312-226-5300
Marchegiana burger at KICK
Between the house giardiniera and the garlicky red chiles, the Marchegiana burger at KICK packs quite the punch. It’s a half-pound burger made with 100% Wagyu, draped with aged sharp provolone and finished with a layer of the good stuff.
1943 W. Byron St.; 773-236-8886
Giardiniera Deli Burger at Hard Rock Cafe Chicago
Another notable burger entry can be found at Hard Rock Cafe Chicago, where the Giardiniera Deli Burger is featured as part of the company’s “Legendary Burger” series, wherein chefs in each market craft a distinct burger tailored to their city. For Chicago, that means an Angus beef burger topped with Italian beef, melted provolone, giardiniera, roasted red peppers and au jus.
63 W. Ontario St.; 312-943-2252
Suckling pig at Steadfast
One of the summer’s most anticipated restaurant openings has a giardiniera dish to look forward to. Courtesy of chef Chris Davies, there’s a suckling pig at Steadfast that he’ll serve with giardiniera purée and salsa verde. It’s quite a vibrant vegetal medley too, featuring a giardiniera made from baby carrots, purple cauliflower, pickled fennel, celery and Korean chiles.
Porchetta sandwich at David Burke’s Primehouse
For the PrimeSpot lunch menu at David Burke’s Primehouse, giardiniera is used almost as a glaze in the cooking process. The spicy medley is ground and spread onto the porchetta before it’s cooked, infusing the meat with notes of acid and heat. More giardiniera is also sprinkled on top of the bun when the sandwich is served, along with burrata, greens and roasted tomatoes.
616 N. Rush St.; 312-660-6000
Chicken giardiniera at Saranello’s
Inspired by the Italian translation of giardiniera, which means “from the garden,” Saranello’s executive chef/partner Mychael Bonner uses seasonal vegetables for his signature chicken giardiniera. In lieu of standard hot peppers, Bonner opts for roughly chopped fennel, sweet peppers, artichokes, Fresno peppers, cauliflower and carrots, all of which get brined and cooked into a sauce. It’s served over a Parmesan-crusted chicken breast, lending a nice bright crunch.
601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling; 847-777-6878
Deep-dish pizza at Connie’s Pizza
With Italian beef, giardiniera and deep-dish combined into one, there’s a particular menu item at Connie’s Pizza that’s basically the most Chicago of all foods in town. The thick pizzas are loaded up with house-seasoned and roasted Italian beef, along with tangy giardiniera that add a nice punch of vinegar. There’s also provolone and mozzarella for optimal decadence.
Muffaletta at The Florentine
Giardiniera makes perfect sense in a muffaletta, that famed New Orleans sandwich that traditionally layers olive salad betwixt cured meats. At The Florentine, the restaurant subs Italian-accented giardiniera for the olive salad, infused with Calabrian chile for added heat. It’s spread over mortadella, spech, spicy capicola, provolone and tapenade aïoli.
151 W. Adams St.; 312-660-8866
Bloody Mary at The Blanchard
Giardiniera is so prominent in Chicago it even makes its way into drinks. For example, the Bloody Mary on The Blanchard’s new brunch menu adds giardiniera to a cocktail that’s already one of the most complex versions in town. The housemade vegetable mix is joined by horseradish, soy sauce and pickled ramps, which all get served in a black pepper- and lardon-infused vodka from Colorado-based Halsted’s distillery.
1935 N. Lincoln Park W.; 872-829-3971
Artichoke arancini at Tesori
Cippollini onions are incorporated into the vegetal mix for the giardiniera recipe at Tesori, which uses the stuff in a few different dishes. These include an antipasti tray, a grinder panini and artichoke arancini with giardiniera aïoli.
65 E. Adams St.; 312-786-9911
Muffaletta at La Storia
Italian and New Orleans cuisines converge once again for a spicy, meaty sandwich at La Storia in the Gold Coast. This version has prosciutto, mortadella, coppa and finocchiona along with Asiago cheese, provolone, olive giardiniera and parmigiana-reggiano. Rosemary chips are served alongside.
1154 N. Dearborn St.; 312-915-5950
Prosciutto crostini at The Kitchen
Publican Quality Bread sesame seed baguette lays the foundation for a particularly fantastic crostini at The Kitchen. Courtesy of chef Johnny Anderes, the dish contains La Quercia prosciutto whipped with buttermilk, shallot, garlic and a salad of housemade giardiniera consisting of baby carrot, Fresno pepper, spring onion, cauliflower, olive oil and white vinegar.
316 N. Clark St.; 312-836-1300