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Jul 24, 2012 06:34 PM

Gino's East? Please tell me this isn't what Chicago DDP is all about (review)

One of my dearest friends had her rehearsal dinner at Gino's East to give all the out of town folks a taste of Chicago's famous deep dish pie. When we arrived and saw the lines waiting out the door for a table I thought "this must be good!" We got to walk right in because she rented one of the rooms upstairs where about 40 of us were served some of the most mediocre to bad food I've ever eaten in my life.

Now, I've never had deep dish pizza so I'm no expert and I'm hoping that Gino's East was not a good rendition because if it actually was what Chicago thinks of as some of the best pizza then I have to feel sorry for Chicagoans. This pizza was a soupy mess of too much ordinary sauce and tough, chewy cheese along with some tasteless spinach in the spinach pie, and way too many large chunks of raw onions in the sausage pie. The crust under the sauce was totally soggy and the edge crusts were dry and crackery and flavorless. So sad. I can't believe people wait in line for hours for this pizza!

The pies were served with big, mostly iceberg lettuce salads with the choice of 2 industrial dressings and big bowls of mushy pasta lightly coated in bland tomato sauce. Low quality shaking cheese and lots of red pepper flakes helped a bit but boy were we disappointed.

The best part of the meal were the cannolis for dessert. The cheese was creamy and sweet and the shells miraculously crisp. The ends dipped in crushed pistachios were a nice touch.

Please tell me there is MUCH better deep dish pizza elsewhere in Chicago. Where is it? I do plan to return since one of my best friends now lives there but I'll never return to Gino's East.

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  1. i've never been a fan of Gino's. People say all deep dish in Chicago is the same but I find that Malnati's/Pizano's/Uno are much better than Gino's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ferret

      Exactly what I would have said. I haven't been to Ginos in years. My guess is that most of those people were tourists. Sorry for your bad experience.

    2. If you ever come back, go to Lou's for DDP, and DON'T get pizza for 40. If you really want good pizza tho, skip the deep dish, skip the stuffed, go with extra-thin crust which is available at every pizza place, but overlooked by tourists.

      1. I recently had DDP for the first time in Chicago as well, and it was okay, but in my opinion, far inferior to good thin crust pizza here in the Northeast. If you scroll to the bottom of my post, you can see my thoughts and photos:

        The pie at Gino's East was so filled with sauce and cheese it was almost soupy. And no one was eating the crust after the first slice. So what's the point? If you want pizza, you should be able to enjoy the whole slice, crust included. In contrast, last week my husband and I went to NYC and had Patsy's pizza in East Harlem — Cooked in a super hot coal-fired oven, the crust had a wonderful fresh bread taste to it and the whole thing was delicious.


        Pizza Soup at Gino's East
        Pizza Pie at Patsy's in East Harlem

        4 Replies
        1. re: TrishUntrapped

          Chicago is not without good thin-crust pizza, which some of us Chicagoans prefer to deep dish. Top places include Coalfire, Spacca Napoli, and Great Lake, which one national magazine named as the best pizza in the country.

          1. re: camusman

            And I'd add Piece to that list -- particularly if you can get in while it isn't quite so crowded (I find that the pizza suffers if they get slammed). And Nella Grassano has her own place now, too:

            1. re: danimalarkey

              I'd also add Armitage Pizzeria, a new placed opened by one of the Coalfire founders. Only 1 table so mostly take-out.

            2. re: camusman

              Actually, the vast majority of neighborhood pizza spots in Chicago serve thin crust pizza, and I think most Chicagoans would consider that the real Chicago pizza, not the deep dish stuff. Most pizzerias serve the thin crust stuff, cut into squares, and that's what most Chicagoans get when they want pizza.

          2. Our experience with Palermo's DDP at Red Ivy in Wrigleyville was terrific. Easy to recommend!

            1. Gino's East is horrid pizza for tourists only. It is not a good example of Deep Dish or Stuffed pizza. I'm so sorry that was your introduction. :(

              4 Replies
              1. re: tzurriz

                To be fair, a good number of non-tourist Chowhounds on this board have sung the praises of Gino's East. Having tried DDP at both Lou's and Gino's, I've come to the conclusion that it's just not my pizza of choice.

                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                  Agreed. While I think Lou Malnati's is the best, I don't think Gino's is the worst. I'd have to go with Uno for that one (I know someone will disagree with me, that's cool).

                  I'm also from the Northeast, and agree that thincrust is the best. Deep dish is like lasagna to me. You don't want it every day, or when it's hot out, but it's great comfort food.

                  1. re: Shaggy

                    Gino's and Gino's East are two VERY different companies, and pizzas. :)

                    1. re: tzurriz

                      I think everyone here means Gino's East.