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Pizza Worth Eating?

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Sorry to delve into such a controversial subject, but I am looking for some advice. As a college student in the 70's, I was introduced to Chicago-style deep dish pizza at such places as Gino's East, Medici, Dues, etc. After having been raised on DC-style pizza (yes, there is such a thing), and the occasional NY slice, it was a revelation. Next month, I will be dropping my offspring off at school and will be spending one night near the NWU downtown campus (not far, it seems, from the Superior Street GE location). Having had only a single Chicago pie in the last 30+ years, I don't want to miss this opportunity to both feed my nostalgia and to introduce the lil' COTOB to the wonders of one of these artery-clogging masterpieces. With only one night, where should I go and what should we get? I have perused some of the old threads here, but the landscape changes so quickly. Although I am now inclined to do GE, I am a little concerned that its proliferation of locations may have cheapened the brand. Thoughts and suggestions appreciated.

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  1. For traditional deep-dish single-crust "pizza in the pan", I think the best places are still the "holy trinity" of Uno and Due (original River North locations only), Lou Malnati's, and Pizano's. Lou Malnati's and Pizano's were both founded (in 1973 and 1991, IIRC) by sons of one of the principal figures in the early decades of Uno and Due, and they all grew up working there together for many years. With one night for pizza, I would go to any of those three. The downtown campus of NU lies between Chicago Avenue and Ontario Street; the closest of these to the Ontario side is Uno and Due, and the closest to Chicago is Pizano's on State, all within a few blocks of campus. Malnati's is a bit further, a good half mile; the closest to Chicago is their new location at State and Rush (two blocks north of Oak Street), and the closest to Ontario is the location on Wells. Gino's East, which is still on Superior next to the campus, isn't bad, but I don't think it's quite up there with the previous three, unless you think that a yellow-colored crust makes it better.

    As for what to get, different people like different toppings, so it's a matter of personal taste. Some offer an option of butter crust, but even though I generally enjoy butter flavorings on many foods, I've found that I prefer the standard crust on my deep-dish.

    The double-crust "stuffed pizza" variant (from Giordano's, Edwardo's, Bacino's) is also popular, and I like it a lot, too. But if you only have one night, I'd stick to the single-crust pizza in the pan.

    >> I have perused some of the old threads here, but the landscape changes so quickly.

    Actually, the pizza landscape in the downtown area has been relatively constant for a while now. The main change downtown has been the opening of additional locations of Lou Malnati's, which has opened at State and Rush in the Gold Coast, and at 8th and State in the South Loop, within the last year.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Someone who was familiar with Gino's East in its original incarnation on East Superior will not recognize the current building. The original building along with at least one other building were demolished to build a new Italian restaurant. Gino's moved farther west. After the newer Italian restaurant closed, Gino's moved back into that building. With all those windows facing Superior the ambiance is very different. Anyone with a nostalgic view of the old Gino's will be very disappointed.

      1. re: Eldon Kreider

        >Anyone with a nostalgic view of the old Gino's will be very disappointed.<

        I agree. The old Gino's on Rush St. is nothing like it was in the '70s...when it was so good and so popular that they opened a second restaurant on Superior, and called it Gino's East because it was east of Michigan Ave.

        And if you want to taste a pizza like what came out of Uno's in the '70s, you have to go to Louisa's in the SW suburb of Midlothian, because you're not going to find it at the Uno's downtown. They may have kept the same recipe from the time of the franchising, but the quality dropped long before the franchising.

        If I were interested today in such a pizza in the downtown area, I would probably go to Malnati's or Pizano's. Louisa's would be the closest to what you remember from the '70s, but it's quite a ways from downtown.

        1. re: Mizer

          >> if you want to taste a pizza like what came out of Uno's in the '70s, you have to go to Louisa's in the SW suburb of Midlothian, because you're not going to find it at the Uno's downtown. They may have kept the same recipe from the time of the franchising, but the quality dropped long before the franchising.

          I gotta disagree with that. I think the pizza at Uno and Due is the same as it's been all along - excellent, an excellent representation of deep-dish pizza, and an iconic Chicago food. You're welcome to your opinion, but based on my visits over the past few years, the quality is the same as it's always been - top-notch. (So is Lou Malnati's and Pizano's.)

          Oh, and Midlothian is 24 miles from downtown Chicago where the OP will be - not exactly a helpful suggestion to someone visiting the downtown Northwestern campus. There are at least 20 locations of Lou Malnati's, Pizano's, and Uno/Due that are closer, including several that are within a five-minute walk.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            "Walk" really is the operative word. I will have just made the 12-hour car schlep, and will be in no shape for much beyond a pizza and a beer. I do remember back in the 70s folks complaining that Unos and Dues weren't what they used to be. I still think I am leaning in that direction, although I could be dissuaded yet.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              I thought I made it clear that the dropoff at Uno's occurred before the franchising, which was long before your dining there "over the past few years".

              I didn't make a suggestion to go to Midlothian. I only pointed out that to get a pizza that tastes like Uno's from the '70s, you need to go to Midlothian, because such a pizza no longer exists within the Chicago city limits. And about it not being helpful...I guess I'm the type of person that prefers to let the readers decide which comments are helpful and which ones aren't.

      2. I know some people like it, but IMO, Ginos is not what it was back in the day. There is a Ginos location on Wells and Illinois and it may be exactly what you remember.

        However, there are very constant, consistent standards that can be counted on. Uno and Due invented this whole Chicago-style deep dish thing (you may remember them) back in the 1940s. They are still around with the same recipe from back then. They are located literally kiddie-corner from each other, not far from where you will be Due is a little bigger. Both are excellent examples of the real deal. BTW, don't confuse them with the chain/frozen "drek" that gets sold under the Uno name but with a totally different recipe that is not very good at all.

        Two other options: Lou Malnoti has a number of locations, including one on Wells St & Ohio., a little further west. To the east is Pizano's. Malnoti, Pizano's, Uno and Due are all family members and are all reliable for what you remember.

        I always order sausage - it's a pattie that literally covers the pie. I like mushroom with it.

        -----
        Pizzeria Due
        619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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

        Pizzeria Uno
        29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

        2 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          OK, now I'm leaning towards Uno or Due. I hadn't mentioned that it would be a Sunday night and we might be arriving a little late, but checking the Due website, I see it is open until 1:30. Man, this sure ain't DC!

          1. re: pgreen

            They're all open late. Some more so than others:

            Uno - Sun 11 pm, Mon-Fri 1 am, Sat 2 am
            Due - Sun-Thu 1:30 am, Fri-Sat 2:30 am
            Pizano's on State - Sun-Fri 2 am, Sat 3 am
            Lou Malnati's at State and Rush - Sun-Thu midnight, Fri-Sat 2 am
            Lou Malnati's at Wells and Illinois - Sun-Thu 11 pm, Fri-Sat 12m
            Gino's East on Superior - Sun-Thu 10 pm, Fri-Sat 11 pm