Gino’s East Pizzeria on Superior
After getting everybody settled for the night…my mom in her hospital room at Northwestern Memorial and my dad in our room at the Red Roof Inn, I wanted pizza. Gino’s East was only a three block walk from our hotel so I didn’t even give my dad a choice. I told him what I was ordering for dinner and he could eat it or go hungry (how many times you think he said that to me over the last 30 years?).
Gino’s East is one of the “Big Three” when it comes to Chicago pizza and the only one of the three I have never had. I’ve eaten at Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s many times over the years, but there has never been a Gino’s East close to me.
The location closest to me on this unexpected trip downtown also happens to be the original. It’s on Superior Street a little over a block of the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) in one of the busiest parts of downtown Chicago.
As my dad was checking in to the hotel, I found a quiet spot in the lobby and looked up a phone number on my iPhone. I put in my order for a large deep dish sausage patty pizza. I was told it would take 45-50 minutes and it would cost a little over $30. Sounds like a long wait and a lot of money for a pizza, but once you see this pizza, both of those make sense.
I ran a couple errands before heading to the pizza joint to pick up my dinner. I got some popcorn at Garrett’s and picked up our bags from my truck in the parking ramp at the hospital and still had a little time, so I hit up the ice machine and the vending machine back at the hotel then headed out while talking to J for the first time all day to make that three block walk.
I really would have liked to eat in at Gino’s, but I had been up for almost 34 hours at that point and I really wanted to take advantage of being able to watch a White Sox game on TV. My dad couldn’t really get around anyway, so the less walking he had to do the better.
The cool thing about Gino’s locations is writing on the wall. It sounds like a bad idea, but they encourage graffiti. Good luck finding an open space though. Over the years, the walls have been pretty much covered in layers of signatures and doodles from customers. I suppose I could have pulled a pen out of my pocket and added my John Hancock, but I just wanted to get back to the Inn so I could eat.
As I walked in the door, I was met by a hostess in a pretty large waiting area. I’m sure it’s full on weekends, but there was no line when I walked in. I told her I had a carry-out order and she pointed me to a counter near the back of the restaurant that opens in to the kitchen.
As I walked up, a lady behind the counter asked my name. I gave it to her then another woman went to grab my pizza while the original woman cashed me out. As the pizza was being bagged up, she asked if I needed plates and silverware. J would have been so proud of me to actually think of this for once. I said there were two of us, so they threw two paper plates and silverware alongside the packets of red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.
I walked hurriedly…almost running back to the hotel because I couldn’t wait to get this box open. My dad and mom had eaten at this particular Gino’s East on a different trip to Northwestern, but they had ordered a thin crust pizza not knowing what was so great about the deep dish. My dad said it was ok, but he had had better in the past.
My dad is not really a deep dish pizza guy. When I opened up the box, he sort of looked at me like, you ordered a deep dish, but he grabbed a plate and grabbed a slice.
The deep dish sausage patty is sort of what Gino’s is famous for. The crust is a traditional, buttery Chicago deep dish crust. While there is a large handle on the crust, the bottom part (the part that holds the topping) is actually very thin. The big misconception about Chicago deep dish is that there is a lot of crust. That’s not true at all. The crust is actually pretty thin with the toppings making up the “deep dish” part of the equation.
The crust is topped with mozzarella cheese first then a sausage patty that takes up the entire surface area of the pizza is next . After that, a cold tomato sauce tops it off.
The pizza from Gino’s is everything that is great about the Chicago style pizza. The crust is always amazing with it’s buttery, flaky texture and the whole sausage patty is such an interesting take on the sausage pizza. You could a large bite of sausage every time you rip a chunk of pizza off.
The amazing thing was how messy this pizza wasn’t. I grabbed extra napkins and ripped open the silverware package before digging in and there was really no reason. The slices were a pretty solid mass that didn’t fall apart or slide off when the slice was picked up.
I wasn’t really wild about the reasoning for being in Chicago, but I made the best of it by picking up some great pizza. Even my dad, who prefers thin crust pizza, had a lot of great things to say about Gino’s East. It’s so hard to choose a “favorite” Chicago deep dish. I appreciate all three for different reasons and I’m very happy I’ve been able to sample the best thing that Gino’s has to offer.