I could not let a visit to Chicago pass by without trying the traditional Chicago style deep dish pizza. Since Gino's East, which is located on 162 Superior Street, was close to our hotel, my husband and I decided to have lunch there one afternoon. According to their web site this original pizzeria opened in 1966 when three cab drivers became frustrated dealing with rush hour traffic and decided to try their hands at making pizza.
Gino's East soon attracted a fan base of regulars from both near and far, and visitors scribble their names all over the walls and booths year after year. Double click on the photo collage above (all photos will enlarge if double clicked on) to see some examples of all this colorful graffiti.
It reminded us of John's Pizzeria in New York's Greenwich Village neighborhood (see this post) and it made us wonder why this seems to be such a popular custom in some pizzerias?
My husband and I ordered a small deep dish pie with sausage on top. It was the perfect size for two people. Each pizza is made by hand and takes up to 45 minutes preparation time. Perhaps that is why the customers begin to scribble on the wall? We enjoyed a nice cold beer and conversation during our wait.
The Gino's East crust is a secret recipe and taste more like a crispy biscuit other than the soft and doughy New York, Sicilian style, thick crust pizza of which I am a fan. Their sauce was thick and flavorful. The sausage patty was located under the sauce and cheese and added a pleasant savory saltiness to each bite. We could have also ordered it served crumbled on top. All in all, it was a very filling and tasty lunch and worth the experience.
Everyone loves their hometown pizza, but I will unabashedly go out on a limb and say that New York, and the borough of Brooklyn in particular, makes the best pizza in the the USA, but if you are visiting Chicago and want to try a deep dish pizza, Gino's East is worth the visit.
Before our trip we read that Chicago had a very large and vibrant neighborhood nicknamed "Greektown," which was noted for its authentic Greek cuisine and nightlife. We visited the Parthenon Restaurant, located at 314 S. Halsted Street, one afternoon for another lunch time visit with a few of my husband's New York co-workers who were along on this business trip.
The Parthenon Restaurant is famous for their Saganaki, which is an appetizer of a slice of mild kaseri cheese that is flamed in brandy. As the waiter lights the brandy he, along with nearby waiters, dramatically yell out "Opa!" It is an unforgettable taste and experience!
Since there were a number of us at the table we were luckily able to order a few appetizers and entrees to share from their very extensive menu.
The upper left corner photo is a platter of spicy hummus (pureed chickpeas with tahini) served with toasted pita wedges, next to it on the right is broiled octopus, on its right is Taramosalata (fish roe whipped smooth with lemon and olive oil), and next to it is the deep dark Greek coffee we all drank at the end of the meal.
Bottom left photo in the collage is the Aegean Platter of pan fried scallops, codfish, squid, and smelts, next to it is an entree of swordfish shish kabob, and on the right is the Special Combination of dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with herbal rice), moussaka (layers of eggplant an meat sauce topped with bechamel sauce and kefalotiri cheese), pastitsio (macaroni baked with meat sauce and kefalotiri cheese), roast lamb, and vegetables.
Needless to say, we felt like we were truly in Greece, enjoying the best of authentic home style cuisine that was so filling and flavorful that it left us fully sated for the entire day. My husband and I had only a salad for dinner that evening, as we could not imagine eating anything else. We all truly enjoyed the Parthenon experience and highly recommend it.
Fruits of the Midi -- Pierre-Auguste Renoir -- The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago is definitely a food lover's town! In addition to the wonderful lunch I had at Quartino's and meeting Marie, one of my favorite food bloggers, we dined at wonderful steak houses and Italian restaurants during our week in the city. I can't wait to go back someday and enjoy more of all the wonderful cuisines that available there.
I'm linking to Michael Lee West's 'Foodie Friday" event of her blog Designs by Gollum. Please check her link to see all the wonderful recipes and foodie treat links in all the blogs participating today.
Michael Lee West is also an author of many wonderful novels, and I enjoyed reading her latest novel : Gone With a Handsomer Man very much! This mystery novel kept me smiling, and guessing, till the very end.