Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Gino's East, Chicago IL

There are many regional styles of pizza, and most of them are good eating. Here at Pizza Quixote, after much research, we've concluded that the thin, crisp Trenton-style crust is our favorite. We also love a good Neapolitan, we relish the New York/Rome style which overlaps with Trenton, and we appreciate the thick square crusts on Sicilian pie and tomato pie.  How do we regard Chicago deep-dish "pizza?"  We think of it as a bread-based casserole. It can be quite tasty, but is it pizza? We're skeptics. Too often, it has too much in common with college-town pizza -- that its, its primary merit is that it fills your belly. Still, we're open to the fact that it could be "destination pie" and we're eager to try it more often and hear from those eating it.

With that in mind, we received this timely dispatch from a colleague returning from a Chicago business trip:

I went to Chicago recently for a business trip and my colleague Pizza Quixote suggested that I check out some pizza joints while there. He  offered some suggestions, such as the highly-regarded Great Lake Pizza, and each was a thin-crust location because that’s the style he prefers. Given I was in deep-dish country, I resisted and decided to search for a good deep-dish. I had heard that Gino’s East makes a good pie.  So, I Googled it and it was within walking distance of my hotel.

As I crossed the street, I noticed a line. Since I was solo, I decided to skip trying to grab a seat and see if I could snag a spot at the bar. I was out of luck. As I walked back to get in line, I overheard someone ask about take-out. Interestingly, Gino’s has a section of the restaurant where you can order take-out and sit down. No waiters there, which was fine by me. I ordered the sausage deep-dish pizza. As I waited, I noticed the handwriting all over the walls and found out that patrons are permitted to sign the walls.

My pizza came out relatively quickly and I found a seat. The pizza looked great. However, I was a little taken back when I first opened the box and did not see any cheese. The tomato topping was a puree, and was surprisingly tasty. The crust was cornmeal-based and it tasted the part. They did cook the pizza well as the crust on the outside was slightly blackened and crunchy. 

As I took my first bite, I realized there was a hidden gem inside - cheese. Basically, it was an upside down pizza – the cheese and toping was hidden under the tomato sauce. Overall, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the pizza, but I wouldn’t rank it up there with some of the better thin-crust pies I’ve had out east.  Maybe next time, I will try one of Quixote’s thin-crust suggestions.

This was a necessary Chicago experience; I give Gino's East a 7 (out of 10) rating.

Gino's East Sports Bar on Urbanspoon

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