Author Topic: The Deep Dish Family Tree Project (Supplement)  (Read 1299 times)

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Offline BTB

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The Deep Dish Family Tree Project (Supplement)
« on: March 27, 2014, 07:05:44 PM »
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

Offline vcb

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Re: The Deep Dish Family Tree Project (Supplement)
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 07:47:52 PM »
Thanks for the Gino's backstory. It gives us a little more to figure out on that branch. 
I guess the question now becomes: "Did Alice Redmond (from Uno) change the recipe at Gino's when she bailed on Pizzeria Uno?".

This article I just located seems to think she did.

When Alice Mae started in the Pizzeria Uno kitchen, she didn`t like the crust. ``It was too hard to push,`` she says, slowly shaking her head. ``I had to make that crust better.``

So Alice Mae came up with her own formula-a little of this and a little of that-to make the thick crust move better and taste better. When she was courted away to Gino`s East, Alice Mae improved on her original formula and brought her ``secret dough conditioner`` with her to Gino`s.

Is this lore or fact? Did a sweet, soft-spoken cook develop part of the pizza that has been acclaimed as the best in Chicago-and thus the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza in the world?

``Fact,`` says Jim Banakis, vice president of operations for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises which manages Gino`s East.

Alice Mae had the same problem I was having before I "fixed" my dough!  :chef: :pizza: :D
-- Ed Heller -aka- VCBurger -- Real Deep Dish - Deep Dish 101


Offline BTB

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Re: The Deep Dish Family Tree Project (Supplement)
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2014, 08:49:10 PM »
To credit the Alice Mae to Gino's East story, you'd have to ignore the story that the alleged two cab drivers delivered "Gino's on Rush's" deep dish pizzas and later opened their own spinoff Gino's (aka Gino's East) pizza that was "east" of the original Gino's in 1966, and based their pizza version base Gino's pizza and not Uno's which was and is vastly different from Gino's.  I tend not to credit that Alice Mae greatly influenced the Gino's East recipe.  Somewhat of an influence, maybe, but not too much.

The original Gino's at 940 N. Rush St. was opened in 1954, one year prior to opening of Due's, Uno's sister restaurant.  Many cried when Gino's on Rush, who many believe was a major player in the Chicago Deep Dish pizza becoming famous for Chicago, closed in 2005 because the building they were in for nearly 50 years was being demolished.   Many had heard that they would relocate their famous business to elsewhere in the Rush St. or night club area, but it never happened for some reason.

BTW, I am a doubting Thomas regarding the cab driver founder's story.  I don't think they could have afforded the rent on the washroom of that multi-floor large restaurant.

Down memory lane with some pics.                                              --BTB
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 08:13:03 AM by BTB »

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: The Deep Dish Family Tree Project (Supplement)
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2014, 10:16:26 PM »
Thanks for the memories BTB. I used to eat that great Gino's pie down there on Rush.
We'd take the train in from Aurora and "hang" out on Wells St.
Would eat at Sammies Sammiches too.

"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"