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Gino’s East (South Haven)

November 30, 2018

  • 248 S. Broadway Street
  • South Haven, MI 49090
  • (269) 639-4100
  • Website
  • Menu

If there’s one hill that I will die on it, it’s the hill that Chicago food beats all other regional food.  Don’t @ me.  As a couple of my co-workers have found out, there’s nothing you can say that will change my mind about Italian beef, hot dogs, and both kinds…yes, both kinds of Chicago-style pizza.

In Chicago, the hill both J and I would die on is the south side thin cracker thin crust pizza is far superior to the more popular north side deep dish pizza that more people associate with the city…hmmm….seems like baseball works the same way…south side better than north side….

Yes, I prefer places like our all time favorite pizza place Palermo’s 95th and the very close second Vito & Nick’s…but I still really like the deep dish pizza that Chicago is famous for.

Chicago pizza really made it’s West Michigan debut when Giordano’s moved in to Holland a few years ago.  I haven’t eaten there yet.  Giordano’s is my least favorite of the Chicago Big 3….also, I just don’t get to Holland much anymore.

The place I really got excited about opened this past summer in South Haven.

Gino’s East is on South Broadway Street right on the edge of downtown South Haven.  The Chicago pizzeria moved in to the former Joe’s Bar & Grill.  The restaurant underwent a pretty extensive renovation to give it the downtown Chicago feel that you get from the original shop on Superior Street.

This place was packed all summer long so we never got a chance to stop when we were in town for the beach.  Things were so busy at first they wouldn’t even do carry-out because they wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Now that the summer busy season is gone and they’ve gotten in to a rhythm, they do offer carry-out and have opened for lunch.  A co-worker and I were in the area and had a few hours to kill.  He’s from out west and has never had Chicago pizza.  I brought up the idea of going to Gino’s and he was super excited.

We stopped in for lunch on a Tuesday morning around 11:30.  There were a few other people already eating lunch when we walked in.

The first area you come in to is the bar area.  There’s a large bar with TV’s hanging off the walls.  There are a few tables in this area with the hostess stand but a big part of the front is a waiting area for those busy summer weekends when wait times are well over an hour.

The waitress took us to a booth in the back dining room.  This large, open space has a number of booths and tables spread throughout.  There are more TV’s spread throughout.

Thing thing I noticed instantly was the lack of marker on the wall.  Gino’s Superior Street restaurant in Chicago is well known for the signatures of customers on literally every available spot that will soak up a marker.  The walls.  The tables.  The booths.  The chairs.  Everything has customer writing on it.  Gino’s in South Haven had none of that.  The furniture is all clean and the walls are covered with large murals.

Co-worker and I both got a Coke while he looked over the menu. I knew exactly what I wanted before I sat down.  The question was, how big of a pizza did I want.

I decided to be good and just order a 9″ sausage patty pizza.  The sausage patty pizza is pretty amazing.  It’s not just sausage bits sprinkled around the pizza, there is an entire sausage patty covering all of the topping area of the pizza.  Picture a disc of sausage set down on top of the crust then covered with mozzarella cheese and a delicious cold tomato sauce.  The thing people don’t understand about Chicago deep dish pizza is it’s not really a deep dish.  The bottom crust is actually pretty thin.  The sides are built way up and it’s stuffed with toppings to give the illusion of deep dish.  What really makes a Chicago style pizza is the fat heavy crust that makes it really rich and flaky and the “cold” sauce.  I mean, it’s cooked when you get it, but the sauce isn’t cooked before it’s put on the pizza.  That gives the sauce a thick, chunky texture and a much fresher taste than a pureed tomato sauce.

The waitress brought our pizzas by holding on to the custom pizza pans with a pair of channel locks.  She then served up the first slice and the first bite reminded me immediately what I love about Chicago.  Don’t even try to call this “lasagna.”  There’s nothing about this pizza that tastes like any lasagna I’ve ever had.

My co-worker got a 9″ Supreme and he tells me it lived up to the hype.  We both had plans to only eat half and take the rest home for dinner.  I actually did that but he ate three slices.  He said Gino’s was like no pizza he’s ever had before.

The bill for both pizzas and two drinks was $44.  The waitress gave us one check.  Co-worker asked if she could split it and she just split it in half.  His pizza was a little more than mine but I didn’t make a thing out of it and just paid.  It wasn’t that much more so I just paid it.

I love Gino’s East.  Most people will say there are three big players in the Chicago-Style Pizza debate.  I’ll put Gino’s and Lou Malnati’s on a tier by themselves because their pizza is so different than Giordano’s.   The only downside to Gino’s East is the price.  There are no cheap pizzas.  A 9″ is $15 but the argument can be made you’re getting two meals if you’re eating it yourself.

I’m so happy to see a Chicago legend move in to Southwest Michigan.  I still have so many other regional Chicago chains I’d like to see make the move here, but this is a good start.  Hopefully, things continue to go well and other companies will follow.

 Gino's East Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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