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28. Gino's East

Classification: Specialty

Location: Chicago, Illinois

I've read a fair number of reviews of Chicago pizza, and it seems like the locals residents tend to have pretty mainstream-Midwestern tastes. Despite the presence of their more famous cousins, Chicago Deep Dish, the natives frequently are drawn to tavern-style thin-crust pies in the neighborhood, just like the rest of their neighbors in flyover country. But the sad fact is that I've only had deep dish while visiting Chicago, and while that's gotta change, I've only tasted what I've tasted. So today, we're talking about deep dish pizza. Best I can tell, there are a handful of challengers for the crown of best/most authentic Chicago style, and they're reasonably similar.

Our family met up there with some friends of our daughter's in 2011, after a Cubs-Rockies matinee at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Most of our party felt like Gino's was absolutely suitable in every way, but not 100% majestic in any way. The pie itself was well-crafted, and the ambience is certainly worthy of a shout-out, as the room itself is definitely one of their calling cards. Set in the darkened basement in Chicago's near north, it's dingy enough to feel like a legitimate hole-in-the-wall, and the blackboard decor with hand-scrawled messages throughout emits a "Silence of the Lambs Only Safer" vibe. I would happily return again for a follow-up, but not without at least conducting some tests at a few flat-pie establishments around town. Considering the passion shown by Chicago-area commenters, there's a pretty wide swath of good pizza joints I've overlooked. And yet, every time I'm in the Windy City, I still feel the call of deep dish. (8 of 10 stars)

Random side note: After leaving Gino's and heading back to the hotel, the car was running on empty so I paid the most for gas I've ever paid--a whopping $4.15 per gallon. I only filled it half-way and finished the job a few miles outside of the Loop.

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Sep 28, 2020

Agreed. When in Chicago, get Chicago deep dish pizza. I got Lou Malnati's (I think). It was a lot better than I expected. But I'm with ya. Still prefer "normal" pizza.

Their hot dog shops are killer. And I don't really love hot dogs. The Chicago beef places are among the best sandwiches I've ever had... and I'm from Philly.

Deep dish pizza is not my thing. But it ain't terrible.

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