AKA: Some of my recollections of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza History
This kind of reflects my contribution to the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Tree Project that Ed had originated in a parallel posting. But since I didn't want to take over his posting, I'll do this as a wordy aside to his posting. But it gets to Ed's tree question because at least one among many key deep dish pizzerias is missing or misadded. But in regards to what I represent here, all I can say is . . . . . "I was there !"
I had been a Chicago thin crust pizza enthusiast since my high school days in the late 50's and early 60's (mainly on Chicago's South Side). One day in the early 60's another pizza enthusiast friend told the group of us pizza lovers of a very different "thick" kind of pizza on Chicago's near north side near the famous Rush St. night club area of Chicago and that we just had to try it. "Thick crust" . . . I thought . . . yuck. I loved Chicago thin crust pizzas and the thought of thick crust did not appeal to me . . . . then.
My young friends and I generally engaged in activities and fun things (all legal) until 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning back then and I remember one night (or early morning) around 1 a.m. that we decided to travel from the far south side (83rd Street and Jeffrey) to travel on down to the near north side (i.e. Rush St. . . . hey . . . hey . . . let's play) and try this new type of pizza call Deep Dish (an experience we must have repeated afterwards dozens and dozens of times in our youth). Back then we used the terms Deep Dish and Pan pizza as one in the same, and I still do to this day.
But the great pizzeria that we traveled on down onto was not the then lesser known Pizzeria Uno's (and its 1955 sister restaurant Due's). It was not anywhere near famous then. Instead it was the then most well known Deep Dish Pizzeria that was located on the famous Rush St. near by the famous Gate of Horn "folk music" nightclub (I played my Martin guitar . . and anyone remember the famous Bob Gibson? ?).
Such pizzeria was Gino's . . . . not Gino's East which did not exist then and which came along many years later. My friends and I simply fell in love with Gino's Deep Dish pizza -- our pizza Valhalla -- and whenever we returned from college or other travels always made many, many trips (usually in the middle of the night) to the great Gino's pizzeria on Rush St. (kind of in a semi-basement lower location) for their great, great deep dish pizza.
In my experience, Gino's on Rush St. was then far more well know and famous than Uno's (actually we didn't even know about Uno's then). But on a later occasion, Pizzeria Uno's was also suggested to us. We subsequently tried it in mid 60's and fell in love with Uno's also, but all had a slight preference still for Gino's on Rush. In time Gino's on Rush had many Hollywood stars and other famous people eating there and got written up many times in the media as the greatest pizza place in Chicago and elsewhere on earth!
And Gino's (later to be called Gino's on Rush) became sooo very successful that they opened (uncertain of the legal relationship of other pizzerias in their small "chain" in the immediate area), but not in locations very far away from each other. There were 3 or 4 other Gino's locations at that time all of which were within one or two miles of the original on Rush St. (might club street) I cannot remember the names given to all of them at this moment. But one in particular I can remember very vividly was Gino's Grotto (also in a semi-basement location just 4 or 5 blocks away from the original Gino's on Rush). I remember it so well because I dined there 50 to 60 times before my classes at Loyola Law School a block or two away until I graduated in the early 70s. And yes, I was there.
Another Gino's offshoot was . . . . a place called Gino's East (you may have heard of that somewhere). It was located a little East of Michigan Ave. on E. Superior St by Northwester Hospital (was just there the other week). I enjoy reading the Gino's East history story on its internet site and menu and laugh hard at its inacurracy. (Note to self: I was there.) When in the early 1960's I and friend sat at a table at Gino's (later called "on Rush") at 2 a.m. in the morning enjoying this unique kind of wonderful pizza when we witnessed a ton of cab drivers coming in to pick up many pizzas for delivery to the rich and famous of the North Shore Chicago elite (aka Gold Coast). But that cab witnessing experience for many years had been repeated there and at Uno's and Due's and Gino's Grotto and many, many other great pizzerias for many years. So what's about the baloney in the Gino's East history creed about the cab drivers establishing Gino's East. I was there. There were no more original Gino's pizzas than others delivered by the famous "2 cab drivers than other pizzerias products. The 2 cab drive story was totally balony, but totally unimportant and it doesn't matter at all, right?
BTW, which of the many pizzerias were the alleged Gino's East cab drivers supposedly getting for their super superior pizzas from. I know it was many, but their story say it must have been the original Gino's (later called Gino's on Rush). SOOOOO the original Gino's deep dish pizzerias of which I have many, many stories (bug house speakers square, etc.and others untouched herein) should be recognized in Ed's history was before Gino's East. Or was Gino's East created out of magic? NOT.
Will attempt to cover in small part Gino's East's attempted expansion to multiple Chicago area locations long before Malnati's "explosive" expansion.btb Most of Gino's East expansion locations . . . all should know . .
most were a total flop and today are closed, closed, closed and closed. Many were bought out and renamed . . . . maybe Bartolli's was one of them? More to come. --BTB