Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chicago Eats!


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.


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47 comments:

Carol said...

Some great food, Pat! I'm with you, nothing, absolutely nothing beats a good Brooklyn slice. I can just taste the slice by my Grandma's building.

Barbara F. said...

Pat, you are so right about Brooklyn pizza. It is not bad on Staten Island, but it must be the Brooklyn water (which I still miss after all these years) or the rusty pipes, whatever it is! But if you're in Chicago you have to try it. xo,

Sheila said...

Oh my goodness Pat - seeing this has me worried now - what will happen in Italy - I suppose all the walking a person does in towns that you are visiting while on holidays helps take off the calories, I wish I'd tried a little harder to lose weight before my trip. too late now - but we will be doing tons of walking. thanks for your good wishes.

Lovella ♥ said...

Give me a good new york crust pizza anyday. I think the pizza is all about the dough. It looks really tasty with the toppings.
The Greek retaraunt is quite an amazing find though. We love Greek food and I can say without hesitation your Greek Food is a tad more authentic than our neighborhood one.

Ginny said...

Oh MAN, all of this looks so good!!! The pizza, i wish I could taste that sauce, but I have never seen one with no cheese on the top!! I bet the smells there are unbelievable!! I thought the broiled octopus was potatoes, it looks just like them! Ick!

KarenHarveyCox said...

Uh Oh, now I'm surely hungry. I love your posts Pat. Have you ever written a book? You are such a gifted writer and your photography makes me think that I am right there. I have never been to Chicago, it looks wonderful.

Karen

pam said...

We LOVE Chicago. In all fairness my only trip to NYC was with a High School Choir....I've never RUN so fast through a town. I don't remember the pizza place but I think it catered to large groups....it was okay. Someday I would love to go back. But Chicago is an amazing place to try lots of different cuisine. I love to travel with you...

Claudia said...

Paul and I had our first dinner at Gino's and enjoyed it - but yes - it was different than the NYC pizza I grew up with - but it was worth the visit. Paul wanted to go to Greektown and we ran out of days.... next time. Your post convinced me!

Susie Q said...

We just visited Chicago last week Pat!! I am going to post about that trip this weekend...love Gino's but this visit we ate Giodarno's Pizza and it was great too! : ) I loved catching up with you and seeing these pictures!
Love,
Sue

Old Kitty said...

Pat!! I'm positively salivating!!!!!! What a pizza!!! That's definitely a deep pan pizza!! You know I worry when the food is brought to the table quickly. I used to go to this Indian Restaurant where you really waiting for just under an hour for your food to be brought up but by golly when the it arrives - beautiful!! So yay for this home baked lovingly prepared dish!

Oh but that Greek restaurant!! OPA!!!! Flamed cheese in brandy!! YUM!!!!! What a treat!!!

Thank you for bringing Chicago to such wonderful life here, Pat!!! I truly feel as if I've visited there now!! Yay! take care
x

The Fajdich Times said...

I love Gino's East Pizza. I have been there many times and have always enjoyed my meal! That Saganaki looks wonderful. You picked some really good places to visit:)

Yvette said...

My mouth is watering, Pat!! Shame on you. Ha! Food, food, wonderful food. Most especially Italian food.
And pizza....sigh! Love your photos as usual. They're SO non-fattening too. Until the moment I get the urge to pick up the phone and order a pizza....!!

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

It looks like you had a very tasty trip Pat:@)

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Sounds like a great visit to Chicago... and that deep dish pizza just added 10 lbs to me by looking at it. Oh if this isn't the visual definition of delicious I don't know what is. I am having salmon for dinner (changed around this week's memu) and it doesn't seem so good since I saw that scrumptious pizza!!!!! Love that the crust is biscuit like. Very yummy sounding!
Thanks for sharing you visit to Chicago... foodie style!
Yvonne

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I'm wondering if you scribbled on the wall while waiting?

Kathleen said...

Looks so good! The pizza out here is terrible, so I have to make it myself!

Vee said...

It is my fond hope to enjoy a New York pizza one day. Brooklyn you say? I believe you!

The Greek Restaurant sounds amazing. What a wide variety of foods you were able to enjoy by being there with so many others. Perfect...

Marlis said...

A truly delicious post! I used to work for a company out of the Chicago area and will say that they have some very good food up there. I've eaten at both places you mentioned and they are soo very good. I hope you get to go back and enjoy more the the lively city. Of course pizza in italy is snack food and thin crust ;-)...
thanks for dropping by and leaving your kind comment. I can't wait to learn more at NY reading your blog!
many blessings, marlis

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

I shouldn't have come here late in the afternoon. Why am I suddenly very hungry?

You visited some great eateries...and sampled some delicious fare...by the looks of things. 'When in Rome...one must eat as the Romans do.' It's part of the over all experience!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

We love good food! We've been going Greek Gyro crazy here lately! And I can't wait to read Michael's new book! I just finished one...and look forward to reading her latest! ♥

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Pat, All of my life I heard of Chicago Pizza... WELL--we finally had a restaurant down here which 'said' they sold Chicago Pizza... We have to drive over an hour to get to it, but we made it a stop a few times over the years. Talk about delicious ---and yet, I'm sure not nearly as good as the one where you went (the real thing). BUT--it was a nice 2nd choice and we enjoyed those deep-dish Pizzas. .. NOW--that restaurant has closed... Darn it!!!!! And I don't know of any others around. Maybe we will get to Chicago someday!!!!

Great post.
Hugs,
Betsy

Jay said...

probably this is my first visit here...gorgeous space u have...love your presentation n excellent clicks..
Am your happy follower now..:)
do stop by mine sometime..

Tasty Appetite
Event: Letz Relishh Ice Creams

Olga said...

Oh, your culinary adventures in Chicago made me want to go there too. I never had a deep dish pizza. I've been to Greek restaurants before, but I would love to visit the one you posted about.

La said...

For some strange reason, I'm suddenly hungry!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Oh my, everything looks delicious! I love the graffiti and the story about how the cabbies started their business!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mary

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hey Pat, I'm glad you tried the deep dish anyway at least you can say you had it. I'm not a fan of all that dough, I prefer thin crust myself so thank goodness we have plenty authentic neopolitan style pizzerias here, your next trip to Chicago, we're going to Spaccia Napoli!

Oliag said...

Boy would I like to go on vacation with you! You always go to fantastic restaurants!

Ola said...

I like reading your reports from different places.

I would choose the Greek restaurant, especially as I am going for my holidays there soon:)

Saganaki sounds perfect!

Tracy said...

Hi, Pat! Lovely to be back and catching up with you here after our travels. And so glad to be back here for a "fix" of your great adventures--and today eats! That deep dish looks so good--making me hungry! But the dough is the secret to excellent pizza, I think so too. Now we're home maybe I'll make pizza this weekend. I think we'll need the weekend to get over the jet lag and get back on track. ;o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Sandy said...

Hi Pat,
We lived in the Chicago area for 26 years and never once ate their deep dish Pizza! LOL! Probably because I don't care for a lot of filling in pizza so the deep dish pizza never appealed to me. You certainly have a knack for finding interesting places to visit no matter where you travel. Your blog is always so enjoyable!
Hugs,
Sandy

Cathy said...

Thanks for the info, Pat. I get to Chicago several times a year and always look forward to their great restaurant scene. I'm a thin crust person myself, but always indulge in a deep dish when I visit.

Jo said...

Hey Pat, the foodies are so tasty lookin',I've not had Chicago pizza,but I have had NYC pizza @ Patsy's, is it still there I haven't been since 2001...
And I really enjoyed reading "Gone with a Hansomer Man" also,can't wait for the next novel.
Have a great fun-filled weekend!
~Jo
LazyonLoblolly

Fresh Garden said...

Wow, fantastic!

Vagabonde said...

Your pictures of the food are so good that I could even smell it! I was looking back at your photos taken in Northern Ireland – they are outstanding. Do you have a filter on you Nikon? I have a D40 and somehow lost the filter I had, don’t remember what type it was.

Donnie said...

The closest we have ever gotten was a Uno's deep dish Chicago pie and it was delicious.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

You are so right, Chicago is filled with wonderful restaurants! Looks like you had some good eats while you were there :)

Linda said...

The Greek food looks yummy and I'm with you on the Pizza...I prefer the NY style myself!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

OK now you've got me wanting not only to visit Chicago, but to eat pizza in Brooklyn.

Cori G. said...

HELLO PAT!!!! It looks like a lovely place to eat pizza, but I'm thinking maybe the owners did all the scribbling to keep the customers busy while their pizza is cooking.

Anywho, I'm so sorry I haven't been around. I'll try to send you an email in the next couple of days.
I've missed you and your sweet smile.
xoxo Cori

Jeni said...

Wow... looks great! There's a place in Brooklyn called Spumoni Gardens where the cheese is on the bottom - I am a pizza Connoisseur and this was THE BEST pizza I've ever had.. you have to look it up next time you go to Brooklyn ~ it's near Coney Island!

Sarah said...

Time for bed here, but now you have me hungry. May have to sneak down to the kitchen. ;-)
~ Sarah

RNSANE said...

I have only been to Chicago, connecting elsewhere through O'Hare!! Such a shame, considering all the foodie delights you've shown us here. I love Greek food and I am so fortunate to have been to Athens for a week on two separate occasions to visit Greek friends there who took me out on the town but, even better, who cooked for me themselves. I have also cruised the Greek isles though I would have preferred spending several days each on Santorini and Mykonos!

Annesphamily said...

Pat you are such a well traveled lady! I love knowing you and reading about your adventures~ Hugs Anne

Camellia Girl said...

Great restaurant reviews...the food looks delicious! I have yet to make it to New York, but I promise to try a slice from Brooklyn...and eat it folded in half with my hands!!! ;)

Love Greek food. My girlfriend married into a Greek family...as in, her in-laws live in Greece...and the wedding/baby shower/holiday meals are to die for!

diane b said...

I'm glad that I have just eaten dinner or my mouth would be watering after that gourmet post. I hope we have time to experience some of those eateries when we are there. I've written them down. Thanks for the tip.

Gracie said...

Hey girl, I was trying to stick on a diet here.......

LDH said...

Wow ~ a post filled with really great looking foods! I prefer the soft and doughy crust too.

My youngest daughter would enjoy the Parthenon. She loves Greek history and, well, anything Greek! She's a pretty picky eater... wonder what she would think of the food :)