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Deep Dish

Hello fellow 'hounds. My wife and I will be in Chicago in a few weeks and are looking for great deep dish. But, I have sort of a different query. When we were last in Chicago (about 4-5 years ago) we had a wonderful deep dish pizza and Gino's on Rush. It was phenomenal. By comparison, we did not care for Lou Malnati's. So, with Gino's on Rush closed (if my research is correct), and knowing we liked that rendition of deep dish, should we go to Gino's East, Uno, Due, or some other spot?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Here is a discussion that occurred kast month - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/499059 - I have heard good comment about Pizzano's - http://www.pizanoschicago.com/loop.html - it is on my list to try

    Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
    61 E Madison St, Chicago, IL 60603

    1. Can I ask what it is you liked about Gino's, that you didn't like about Lou Malnati's? Because I find their pizzas very similar to each other, except for the yellow coloring in the crust at Gino's.

      Gino's East, Uno's, Due, and Pizano's all serve similar single-crust "pan" pizza. This is one of our two popular styles of deep-dish pizza; the other is the double-crust "stuffed" pizza, with two thinner crusts, the cheese and added meats/vegetables between the two crusts, and the tomato sauce on top. If you have never had one of our stuffed pizzas, you might want to try one; they are very popular here. Giordano's, my favorite of all Chicago pizzas, serves stuffed pizza and has the most locations of any local deep-dish chain; other chains serving stuffed pizza include Bacino's, Edwardo's, Carmen's, and Nancy's.

      So my recommendation would be Giordano's if you've never had stuffed pizza and would like to try something new, or Gino's East if you are looking for something similar to what you had at Gino's.

      7 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        The above post is littered with misinformation.

        First of all the OP is referring to the old Gino's that was on RUSH st, and not the more famous Gino's EAST on Superior or Wells, they are in fact totally different places and were started by different owners altogether.

        There is nothing even remotely "similar" about Gino's East, Uno's, Due, and Pizano's. If they were all so "similar" then their would only be one place left standing after all the years of pizza warfare these places have waged on each other and each have had a hand in defining the Chicago Pizza scene.

        Stuffed pizza is NOT two layers of thin crusts as described, it is a normal deep dish pizza with yet another layer of dough, cheese & sauce on top, thus the "stuffed" moniker was coined.

        Gino's east has a thicker buter/cornmeal color crust, and they dont use a full pan sausage patty
        Uno & Duo (are the same company) has sliced tomatoes in the sauce
        Carmens makes three styles of pizza: thin, deep & stuffed- none are very good.
        Nancy's does thin & stuffed
        Only Malnati's and Pizano's are close be being alike, and that is being due to them being made by the same family of pizza makers, and they use a use a full pan sausage patty that is horrid to eat.

        1. re: abf005

          The above post is littered with misinformation.

          Gino's East, Uno's/Due, Pizano's, and Lou Malnati all serve single-crust "pan" pizza that is similar in style, construction, and taste. There may be subtle differences such as in the added ingredients (e.g. sausage) or the previously noted yellow color at Gino's East, but otherwise they are very similar.

          Stuffed pizza does indeed contain two layers of thin crusts. It is NOT a normal deep dish pizza with another layer of dough. On stuffed pizza, each crust layer is significantly thinner than with the single-crust "pan" pizza you get from Gino's East et al. This may vary from one purveyor to another but is true for most of the stuffed pizzas and most of the pan pizzas.

          And speaking of the same family of pizza makers, Uno's/Due shares the same family relationship with Lou Malnati's and Pizano's; the founders of the latter two chains were both sons of one of the original folks at Uno's in its early days, which is indeed one of the reasons why the pizza at all THREE chains is so similar.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Incidentally, there are various reasons why some pizzas are similar (not necessarily identical, but very similar). As noted above, sometimes it's a family connection, like the Malnatis that started Uno's, Pizano's, and Lou Malnati's. Sometimes a single individual starts more than one pizza restaurant; for example, Burt founded Gulliver's and then Pequod's years ago, and Burt's Place more recently. Their pizzas are very similar, with their characteristic charred crust; it would take a close eye (or palate) and a good memory to remember that Pequod's has a more concentrated tomato taste to the sauce (like marinara sauce) while Burt's has a milder tomato sauce (like canned tomatos). I don't care for either of those, FWIW.

            Another reason for the similarity of some pizzas is geographical. For example, Nancy's and Giordano's both introduced stuffed pizza to the Chicago area in the early 1970s. As it turns out, both were created by families from the same region in Italy and were re-creating the pizza their family had been making back home. Although I haven't had Nancy's in many years, the delicious pizza at Giordano's is still the standard by which I judge other pizzas. It's characterized by a delicious crunchy outer crust, and the middle portion of the pizza is a great balance of sauce, crust, cheese, and added ingredients. Balance of flavor is what characterizes the very best pizzas, and Giordano's is superb, with delicious tastes, balance of flavors, and top-notch quality of the ingredients. Which is why so many people love it like I do, which in turn is why they have more locations than any other Chicago-based chain serving deep-dish pizza.

            Of course, some pizzas are similar because the founder of one restaurant liked a certain style of pizza found elsewhere and tried to imitate it. Although in some cases he/she will claim that he developed it on his own (and in a few of those cases that claim may be true).

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Excuse me, but the Malnati's didn't start Uno's and Due's. With all due respect, those legendary places were started by Ike Sewell.

              1. re: ChefJune

                Yes, the Malnati family did indeed start Uno's and Due, along with the Sewell family, although the Malnatis did not have an ownership interest. Rudy Malnati, Sr. was the original pizza chef when Uno's opened in 1943 and continued for the following 20-30 years, including the opening of Due in 1955. Rudy Sr.'s role is also described in various sources as everything from founder, to manager, to bartender (and he probably played all of those roles). It is not mentioned on Uno's website - I can only guess that Uno's does not want the role of the Malnati family publicized since they operate restaurants under their own name that compete with Uno's - but it is amply described on the websites for Pizano's and Lou Malnati's as well as in the Wikipedia entry on Chicago-style pizza and in many other sources. This website has an interview with the director of marketing for Lou Malnati's and notes that Rudy Sr. and Lou managed the restaurant but did not own it: www.famousinterview.ca/interviews/min... This website notes the role of Rick Ricardo and claims that Ike Sewell was not involved until later, but Ike's wife was a silent partner from the beginning: www.conciergepreferred.com/guides/91

                Rudy's son, Lou Malnati, who worked with his father at Uno in the 1940s, started his namesake restaurant in Lincolnwood in 1971. Another son (and Lou's brother), Rudy Malnati Jr., founded Pizano's in 1991.

            2. re: nsxtasy

              " Gino's East, Uno's/Due, Pizano's, and Lou Malnati all serve single-crust "pan" pizza that is similar in style, construction, and taste. There may be subtle differences such as in the added ingredients (e.g. sausage) or the previously noted yellow color at Gino's East, but otherwise they are very similar."

              My issue with this statement is this; by simply stating that they are all "very similar" because they are called deep dish, or share a common assembly is about as vapid as painting a wide brushstroke and saying all pizza is "similar" because it has tomato based sauce, uses a dough and is round!! So let’s try to be more specific and focus on the subtleties. They are after all what we “experts” are supposed to use as the finer points to judge one restaurant or dish over the other. It is misleading and a disservice to those with a more developed sense and taste seeking out the best of anything. This statement leads one to believe that by trying one pizza they would have indeed tried all pizza, it’s that shallow.

              “Stuffed pizza does indeed contain two layers of thin crusts. It is NOT a normal deep dish pizza with another layer of dough. On stuffed pizza, each crust layer is significantly thinner than with the single-crust "pan" pizza you get from Gino's East et al. This may vary from one purveyor to another but is true for most of the stuffed pizzas and most of the pan pizzas.”
              Not exactly true. While the top layer is indeed a very thin (almost paper thin) layer; a statement with which I do not dispute. The bottom layer is decidedly NOT as thin as the top, nor is it even as thin as a traditional thin crust pizza either. Due to the construction of a stuffed pizza and the resulting weight of a fully assembled pie, common sense dictates that if it were as thin as described, that it would tear & fall apart never being able to be lifted from the pan for consumption! The fact is that true Chicago deep dish style pizza is NOT a thick crusted pizza at all to begin with, but rather, a slightly thicker thin crust pizza by maybe ½” of an inch. Either way, the bottom layer is 3-4 times thicker than the top layer and that’s a fact.
              I challenge anyone to measure the thickness of the bottom layer of a basic deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s or Gino’s East against the bottom layer of a Giordano’s or Nancy’s stuffed pizza. I can assure you that they would report back to us with similar findings to within ½” of each other, they’re that close.

              “And speaking of the same family of pizza makers, Uno's/Due shares the same family relationship with Lou Malnati's and Pizano's; the founders of the latter two chains were both sons of one of the original folks at Uno's in its early days, which is indeed one of the reasons why the pizza at all THREE chains is so similar.”

              True they are the same players BUT nonetheless, each of the three pizzas remains unique to the truly qualified pizza-phile. I think the only two pizzas that have a similar taste and style are Lou's & Pizano’s, while Unos/Duo sauce and sausage flavor profile as well as the crusts is very different from these two despite the family legacy and hand in its creation, it is after all, the original...

          2. re: nsxtasy

            which giordano's location do you prefer? w. randolph? or n. rush street?

          3. Gino's is a solid choice, and I also like the rec others have put out for Pizano's.

            I would stay away from the chain Giordano's, I have never had a good pizza at any of their locations scattered across the area. I cringe whenever I am at a party, and Giordano's is the pizza of choice. Alot of locations does not make Giordano's good, they are the Mcdonalds of pizza in Chicago. One on almost every corner, but not very good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: swsidejim

              I would also agree about your assesment of Giordano's. It is NOT in the same league with the others mentioned. Cheap ingredients, tasteless. Stick with Malnati's, Gino's and Pizano's.

              Even though the above mentioned pan pizzas ARE similar in style and construction, they are NOT in taste. That is why people have their favorites and do not like the other nearly as well.

            2. As you can see, the assessment of "great deep dish" is matter of interpretation, personal taste, the pizza you had as a kid and endless debate. In the interest of full disclosure am am a lifelong Uno/Due fan with plenty of appreciation for Malnatis, but less for Giordanos or Gullivers.

              If you liked Ginos but not Malnatis, I would not try Uno or Due. It's literally part of the same family as Malnatis.

              You might consider Nancy's or Giordanos or even Pequods for something that tastes right to you.

              1. Exchequer Pub on Wabash has the BEST deep dish pizza in the city. It also is not touristy. It is a hidden gem. Everyone I know who goes there is from Chicago and grew up going there, like I did.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Adelia

                  Exchequer sports some decent reviews on their website, but I noticed that all of them were old (including an endorsement from Roger Ebert 24 years ago). I tried it a few months ago and found it to really not be good pizza.

                  1. re: Marla Collins Husband

                    Maybe you had them on an off night. I was there a month ago and it was awesome as ever. Give it another try -- deep dish sausage is the best.

                2. Coming in late here--I remember when the stuffed pizza thing started in the 70's. I thought it was Giordano's that started it. I ate there once and that was enough. I either liked thin crust ala Barnaby's on Howard/Touhy (?)--which I know many people didn't like--or thick at Uno's. The stuffed pizza I just didn't get--why so much dough?

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: The Old Man

                    Technically speaking Giordano's didn't invent anything.

                    In fact, Giordano's didn't even start to offer a version it's now "famous" stuffed pizza until way after most of the big guys on the Northside had already perfected the style in the early 70's.

                    Nancy's actually invented it http://www.nancyspizza.com/html/about... in 1971, then imitations on the theme followed quickly, first by Edwardo's on Howard (who had a good run than moved & closed) and Bacino's in Lincoln Park. But all three had it on the menu long before the fellas at Giordano's on the Southside caught on and started to make their own version in 1974-75.

                    Barnaby's on Touhy closed back in the 80's, the locations on both Caldwell in Niles and in Northbrook (which is the best one ever) are alive and kicking and IMO they still make the best thin crust pizza in Chicagoland!

                    TOM: I sort of get the sense you've left our fair city quite a while ago, by some the posts you've been putting up here. Is there any chance you'll be back to try any of the newer places soon? I'd be interested in reading the results/opinions of a returned son.

                    1. re: abf005

                      The last time I was in Chicago (about 2 years ago) I went to the Barnaby's on Caldwell and discovered that something had changed since the previous time four years earlier. I didn't like it. We are coming in at O'hare and I was thinking about hitting the Des Plaines location that night. Or should I make the effort to hit the Northbrook instead?

                      1. re: The Old Man

                        Since I live in the far north suburbs, I haven't been to the Des Plaines location in at least 10-15 years!

                        I will say that if you want Barnaby's the way you remember it, then go to Northbrook, they run run a tight ship over there from both a quality and cleanliness standpoint. The owner takes exceptional pride in his place and it really shows. Hope you have a great visit!

                        1. re: abf005

                          Thanks for the info, I will have a good time. I think we had a disagreement in the past, but one thing we can all agree on--Chicago is a great place for food!

                          1. re: The Old Man

                            A discrimanating palate doesn't take hostage's, it just know what it likes! So whatever is was, the past is past, like crumbs that fell on the floor during a dinner long ago, then swept away...

                      2. re: abf005

                        This is just factually inaccurate. Both Bacino's and Edwardo's came after Giordano's. The owners of each of Bacino's and Edwardo's initially entered into a business relationship with the Brolio brothers (owners of Giordano's) before things fell apart. If you search Illinois corporate records at the Secretary of State's website, you can see that Bacino's was originally registered as Giordano's of Lincoln Park.

                        1. re: Marla Collins Husband

                          Marla is correct. Nancy's was the first, opening their pizza parlor in 1970 and introducing stuffed pizza in 1971. Giordano's opened in February 1974. Both Nancy's and Giordano's developed their stuffed pizza based on family recipes, from Nancy's mother-in-law and the mother of the brothers who started Giordano's, respectively; both mothers lived in the Torino (Turin) area in Italy, so the recipes share common geographical roots.

                          Edwardo's started in 1978 (a couple years after Giordano's was named the best pizza in Chicago by Chicago magazine) and Bacino's in the early 1980's.

                            1. re: Marla Collins Husband

                              Thanks - I guess maybe the notation on Bacino's website was written a few years ago, where it says, "Welcome to the original Bella Bacino's. 25 years and going."

                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                Please RE-READ My above post! I'm the one who stated that that Nancy's invented the Stuffed pizza: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5120...

                                You two have run off on a tangent about Bacino's & Giordano's which was never even stated.

                                Professionally speaking of course, Bacino's is the BEST of the three.

                                1. re: abf005

                                  Nobody disagreed with you about Nancy's. Where you were and remain wrong is in your belief that Bacino's and Edwardo's predated Giordano's.

                                  1. re: Marla Collins Husband

                                    I really had to dig back through my previous posts on this thread to see exactly where I had said that, but since I erroneously did so, I now stand corrected.

                                    Giordano's (1974) DID in fact precede Bacino's (1978) & Edwardo's (1978) by 4 years. And Nancy's (1971) was the original.

                                    Both Bacino's & Edwardo's opened as the result of the Giordanos partnership breaking up. The Boglio brothers kept Giordano's; while Edward(o) Jacobson left to start Edwardo's and Dan Bacin(o) went on to start Bacino's in 1978, BTW: neither were Italian, so they changed the business names to sound Italian!

                                    BTW: A better news source for all things pizza is Slice, there are great article on all three:
                                    Bacino's: http://slice.seriouseats.com/tags/Bac...
                                    Giordano's: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...
                                    Edwardo's: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                                    Last note:
                                    I still stand by the statement that TASTEWISE Bacino's is the best of the three. Whatever happened with these guys is just history, but only Bacino's really improved upon the stuffed style of pizza that Nancy's originally made.

                    2. I'd say Gino's East or Pizano's.

                      1. Gino's sold out many years ago and has never been the same. As a kid I would visit my mother at work downtown and we would go to Gino's East. You would have to wait in a long line for a table in the basement. I would not waste my money at a Gino's anymore now than I would call the Pizza sold under the Uno's name at the airport or many other places around the Country Chicago Pizza.

                        Growing up in Evanston we would order from Gulliver's at least once a week. Still an awesome Pizza and a really good French Onion Soup as well.

                        Lou Malnatti's is also really good.

                        If you're going Downtown then either Uno or Due is the place to go.

                        If you're visiting the South Side Home Run Inn is one of my favorites.

                        When I go back home to visit the hardest thing to do is decide where to eat. No other city in the world has good food cheap like Chicago.

                        For you people that like stuffed Bacino's on Lincoln was my favorite with Edwardo's a close second. Giordano's is last choice on the stuffed menu.

                        Thin Crust. There was a place on Main St. in Evanston called Pizza Oven. They had the best greasy thin crust pizza in town. They closed a very long time ago. I ear the guy opened in La Jolla Ca.

                        Barnaby's is my first choice for thin crust and then a place is Skokie around Lincoln and Oakton ( I think it was Villa Palermo), Then probably Father and Son.

                        If you think California Pizza Kitchen Pizza is good then you should find the food court in the airport.