September 20, 2007

Gino’s East

In 1966, two cab drivers and their friend were sick and tired of putting up with Chicago’s rush hour traffic, so they decided to get out of the taxi business and open a pizzeria. Now, over 40 years later, Gino’s East is a legend in Chicago, attracting locals and tourists alike.

gino's eastThe Original Gino’s East on Wells St (just a block away from Hop Haus) is a sight to behold. By the light of chandeliers and candles, you can read the writing on the walls (literally!) while you wait. Every inch of this place is covered in graffiti, all from past customers. It is an incredible feeling to be able to read the restaurant’s and its visitors’ past. “Jim Was Here,” but how many times did he come back? And did the declaration “Linda + Kurt 4 Ever” stand true?

I have one important instruction for those thinking of visiting Gino’s East: come hungry. Yeah, the wait may be long (30-45 minutes), but when you see the size and depth of an honest-to-goodness Chicago-style pizza, you’ll understand why it took so long to make. And while this deep dish will leave you wanting to devour as much as you can, you’ll be lucky if you make it past one or two slices. Oh sure, there’s a menu full of pastas, salads, and sandwiches, but really? It’s all about the gut-busting pizza here. (You wouldn’t go to a steakhouse for the salad, would you?) Popular choices include the Gino’s East Supreme (sausage or pepperoni with fresh onions, green peppers, and mushrooms), the Meaty Legend (pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, and Canadian bacon), and Four Cheeses (a combination of mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, and romano cheeses, with a garlic butter base).

gino's eastWhichever one you decide upon, every deep dish is bursting with chunky tomato sauce and is kept together with a golden, buttery (and dreamy?) crust. To give you an idea of what you’ll be tackling, the pizza arrives in a 2-inch-thick (5 cm) pan. If you can find an open spot, feel free to leave your own mark on the wall while you wait for this tasty treat. Maybe something along the lines of “I Heart!” Hee.

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) Bret Arnett, robinhamman

Original Gino’s East ($$): 633 N Wells St; 312-943-1124
Mon - Thurs: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Sun: 12 noon - 9:00 p.m.
Street parking difficult, pay lots available
Public trans: Bus # 11, 65, 156


6 comments to Gino’s East

  1. Cyrano’s Bistrot and Wine Bar
    December 11th, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    [...] modern menu at Cyrano's (a block south of Gino's East) is comprised of French basics, so you won't need a translator to read the menu or order what you [...]

  2. Sheila @ GoVisitHawaii
    December 12th, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I loved Gino’s when I lived there. My favorite was the spinach pizza.

    You are very right about only being able to eat one or two pieces. The slices are actually much larger than they appear in the mirror. ;-)

    Edwardos pizza was another favorite of mine. They had excellent crust.

    ….now I’m hungry for pizza. :-)

  3. Matt B
    December 12th, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    I’m always super-hungry whenever I head out to deep-dish places, and when I taste that pizza, I want to eat as much as I can… but I’m always full after only a couple slices. Which is fine by me, that means tasty leftovers!

  4. Portillo’s Hot Dogs
    January 14th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    [...] locations all throughout the suburbs, but the one in downtown Chicago (near Fogo De Chao and the Original Gino's East) is an experience to be [...]

  5. Hungry? Chicago
    February 20th, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    [...] Chicago family Gino's East Fogo de Chao Superdawg Drive-In Hot Doug's Caponie's Trattoria Portillo's Hot Dogs Andalous [...]

  6. Mid June 2009 food and boonie notes « Food Near Snellville
    June 14th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    [...] had in Chicago, I’m pretty sure it’s one of the two restaurants that Urban Spoon calls Original Gino’s East. Nothing else has the graffiti, or is close enough to Northwestern University. The astounding [...]

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