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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

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    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.