Garces-branded coffee, olive oils, and vinegars; artisanal cheeses; house-made and imported charcuterie; on-site baked breads and pastries; and boil-in-bag take-home entrees are not the only for-purchase goods lining the outside of Garces Trading Company's sit-down dining area. A small, 200 label boutique Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board wine store walled off by glass sits off to one side of the open dining room and gourmet food shop. Purchase a bottle of wine (or liquor in the cabinet behind the register) to go, or bring it over to your table to sip with lunch or dinner.
The sit-down restaurant commands most of the indoor space, though. Garces Trading Company's menu is heavy on the cheese and charcuterie plates, which are perfect for pairing with your bottle of wine. You'll also find anipasti, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, and a daily entree special on the menu.
With Garces being such a badass and hailing from Chicago, we had our eye on the prize all along — a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The deep dish pizza takes about 30 minutes to prepare, so we had a couple starters while we waited.
Hearing good things about the artichoke antipasti, I gave it a go, and, oh boy, am I glad I did! These sliced baby artichokes topped with chewy dates and drizzled with preserved lemon olive oil and honey-ginger balsamic vinegar might be the best artichoke dish I've had to date. Even being a pool-of-olive-oil hater, these delicate artichokes were not weighed down by the light and sweet lemony olive oil and vinegar that dressed the dish. I even scraped the oil slick off the plate to lick the fork.
A salad of baby greens bathed in blood orange vinaigrette is topped with winter's red jewels, pomegranate seeds and blood oranges, along with a round of pistachio-dusted goat cheese and rectangular Parmesan crisps. As fine a salad as any, but it paled next to artichoke appetizer. A few forked salad greens may have been dipped in the artichoke's dressing before landing in the mouth.
At $24 before the addition of your choice of veggies or meat at $5-$8 per item, the deep dish pizza is not cheap. We didn't mind the $24 price tag because the pizza can easily feed three or four (OK, it did hurt a little), but did mind the pricey add-ons. I understand meat being pricey, but we felt a little ripped off paying $5 for the addition of cippoline onions. Yes, cippoline are fancy little onions, but, really? $5? Spinach ain't fancy and it's a $5 add-on, too.
Keep in mind that this 6-slice pizza pie (because that's really what it is) corrals so much Mozzarella (surely a factor in it's price) that one or two slices are all any sane person can handle. I stopped at one piece, unable and unwilling to ingest more cheese than I normally eat in one or two weeks.The ultra crispy crust holds up to all the gooey Mozzarella and fresh-tasting San Marzano tomatoes, but you still must tame this pizza with cutlery.
As always, pizza opinions are divided. The boy thought the sauce could use more spice, but, agreeing, I appreciated the fresh clean taste of the tomatoes. The boy loved the so-crispy-it's-hard-to-cut crust, but I preferred the crust as a left over after it had softened a little. The boy could eat pounds of cheese all day long, but I can not.
What I can eat all day long are pastries. At $8 for a dozen, I picked up a mixed box of little pastries. Grapefruit macarons with grapefruit curd? I am so there! Heated a bit at home to warm the custardy insides of the canelés, I traded off with the delicate hard-shelled macarons to see which one I preferred, and, before I knew it, I went through them all with the two coming out a draw. The lemon ricotta cookies with a lemon glaze were top notch as well, but came in last place in the race to my belly.
Aaaand...Garces is solid again! I'll have to get back soon for a cheese plate and a bottle wine. And more pastries.
Garces Trading Company
1111 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Breakfast: Mon-Fri, 7am-11am; Sat-Sun, 8am-11am
Lunch and Dinner: Mon-Sun, 11am-10pm