Jul 30, 2023 - Food and Drink

Food Fight: Best giardinieras you can find in Chicago


Delicious Tuscan Garden Hot Giardiniera from Aldi. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Chicago has produced many great culinary innovations, but perhaps none as versatile as our signature oily pickled veggies that boost the flavor of sammies, salads, pizza and more.

  • We rounded up some of our favorite versions you can find in the city, and recommendations from readers.

Aldi's Tuscan Garden Giardiniera

Available at Aldi stores

Monica's pick: I tried a lot of jar-dinn-EAR for this story and learned that one local company makes a dozen private label versions, including my favorite: The Tuscan Garden giardiniera from Aldi. ($3.95)

  • With just the right amount of heat, salt and pickle, it makes my scrambled eggs sing, but I do wish they'd use olive oil instead of soybean oil.

J.P. Graziano Mild Giardiniera

901 W Randolph St. — West Loop; Also available online

giardiniera and a sandwich
Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Justin's pick: I consider giardiniera one of the four major food groups, but my stomach sometimes disagrees. I've found the mild version at J.P. Graziano Grocery in the West Loop does the trick, even though hot is better.

  • A 16-ounce jar will run you $7.25, and you can get them at the Randolph Street location and online.

Ditka's Hot Giardiniera

Available at most grocery stores and online

Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

Carrie's pick: Did Monica's or Justin's giardiniera lead the Bears to a Superbowl? That's what I thought. "Giard" is a staple in my house, and we find any excuse to eat it. I suggest with pita chips and hummus.

  • The key to giard is for the oil to not be too goopy. Ditka's Hot Chicago Style has the right texture and an appropriate heat level. Sold most places but you should get it at the Jewel's. ($5.99)

Frankie's Deli

17W626 Butterfield Rd. — Oakbrook Terrace

Reader Tom B. says this is an all-around outstanding deli, but their "giard" is the best there is. So crunchy and a great variety of veggies.

  • Tom has a warning, though: "The hot is hot."

Marconi Hot Giardiniera

Available at most grocery stores and online

Andrew W. calls it "the one true Chicago favorite."

Fontano's Subs

Multiple locations — Little Italy, South Loop, Beverly and Hinsdale

John R. likes that Fontano's has olives in it.

  • "I get it at their sandwich shop on Michigan Avenue, just north of Van Buren. I put it on eggs in the morning and pretty much any savory sandwich at home."

Bari Foods

1120 W. Grand Ave. — West Town

Lynda B. says if you like spicy, Bari Foods' super-hot is the hottest you’ll find anywhere.

Honorable mentions

That Pickle Guy: Monica H. says while the name may be deceiving, That Pickle Guy's giardiniera has game! It's gone from a cult farmer’s market find to more widely available at places like Whole Foods.

Orlando Extra Hot: If Kevin D. isn't near Aldi, he gets this brand at Morse Market in Rogers Park and says "it's perfect."


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