When my sailor graduated from Navy Boot Camp last week on August 2, there was one thing he really really really wanted to try – Chicago’s famous deep dish pizzas. But not any! He wanted the original.
Now, the Chicago style deep dish pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943. A couple of years later, Gino’s East was opened in Chicago by a couple of cab drivers. They stole some cooks from Pizzeria Uno and went to war with the original deep dish location, fighting for the title of “best deep dish in Chicago”.
The controversy arises over who is the “original” deep dish and the “best” because no one knows WHO exactly invented the deep dish… we only know that it was someone in the kitchen of Pizzeria Uno. And when kitchen staff began to scatter and go their separate ways – like to Gino’s, claims began to vary as who held the “original recipe”, and different pizza joints employing original staff from Uno’s all try to point out their REAL claims of authenticity.
But historically, no ones knows who invented the deep dish. We only know I originated from Pizzeria Unos. So why did we try the deep dish at Gino’s East and not at Pizzera Uno’s? Well, while Pizzeria Uno has a stronger claim to the title of “Inventor of the Deep Dish”, Gino’s is almost universally acclaimed as the better tasting deep dish pizza of the two. In fact, it’s consistently rated one of the best tasting “original” deep dish pizzas in Chicago since it’s opening about seven decades ago.
Jonathan wanted an original, but he also wanted the best. So off to Gino’s East we went!
The legendary restaurant is right off of Superior Street and Michigan Avenue and the joint is moody, eclectic and low lit cave of a place, with thousands of scribbles all over the walls from past guests. Autographed pictures of famous patrons from celebrities to politicians to musicians who have tried the famous pizza litter the walls. It’s a great atmosphere for a dinner in Chicago!
Now, a deep dish pizza differs from a normal pizza in that it has a buttery, flaky golden crust upwards of three inches tall, rising slightly higher than the ingredients, and is coated in a second “crust” of cheese, then topped with toppings swimming in sauce. The crust acts as a kind of bowl – the first time I tried deep dish pizza in Chicago I called it “pizza soup” and to date I’ve found it the most fitting description. You simply cannot eat a deep dish slice with your hands (without looking like a barbarian that is), it’s a dish that really needs a fork and knife.
Seriously, you could plop some cooked pasta noodles in your deep dish, and the toppings would work as a perfect sauce – they are that consistency. While I enjoy a Chicago deep dish, I wouldn’t classify it as something better than a regular pizza. It’s too different to be lumped into that category, really. And while it is good, it’s nothing I’d go out of my way for back home. It’s just a cultural flavor that I’d indulge in while in the Chicago area. Jonathan felt about the same. It was delicious and definitely something we’d do again, but not a must-make dish for our kitchen back home. But all in all, it was a yummy excursion! And a fun graduation day dinner!
I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again – I’m so very proud of my United States sailor!!!