Every year, when my family goes to Chicago to visit relatives, a tradition we have is eating Chicago pizza. There are three types of Chicago pizza: pan, stuffed, and deep-dish pizza. Pan pizza is the thinnest, with a bread-like crust baked in a cast iron pan, which produces a burnt cheese edge. Deep-dish pizza is thicker and features a pizza crust pressed into a deep pizza pan (which creates the signature high vertical edge) and then filled with cheese, an assortment of toppings, and tomato sauce. Stuffed pizza is the thickest and is essentially a double decker pizza -- a deep-dish pizza topped with a second crust and additional tomato sauce, cheese, and fillings. I have really enjoyed the deep-dish pizza in Chicago, so when I heard that Gino’s East, a famous Chicago deep-dish pizza restaurant, was coming to LA, I had to try it. The Los Angeles branch of Gino’s East Restaurant, located on Riverside Drive and Coldwater Canyon in Sherman Oaks, was founded by Dan Michaels and Tod Himmel, whom I had the opportunity to talk to on our visit to the restaurant. Mr. Himmel, who was raised on the South Side of Chicago, explained that the LA Gino’s East is dedicated to making their food as authentic as possible: their workers are all trained in Chicago, and their ingredients are sourced from Chicago. This authenticity is also reflected in the decor of the restaurant, which has the red brick walls of traditional Chicago buildings and Chicago memorabilia and posters on the walls.
We ordered the 12-inch Gino’s Supreme Pizza with regular pepperoni and sausage. It cost us $33, which isn’t necessarily cost-friendly, but it was a pizza large enough to feed 3-4 people. The key to a good deep dish pizza is the crust, and the Gino’s East crust was excellent. It was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and slightly sweet. In addition, the crust was substantial enough to hold up to the abundance of toppings. Regarding the toppings, the cheese tasted fresh and not too salty and the sausage had a mild, herbaceous taste, but the pepperoni was rather bland. The pizza sauce was sweet, with a bit of tang, and had visible tomato chunks in it. However, the sauce was somewhat watery, probably due to the cooking of the tomato chunks, mushrooms and green peppers. Overall, this pizza was excellent, and I would order it again--but I would get the spicy pepperoni instead of the regular pepperoni for more flavor.
Overall, the LA Gino’s East boasts an outstanding Chicago-style pizza, and provides an authentic taste of Chicago in LA.
Restaurant: Gino’s East
Hours: 11 am - 11 pm every day
Address: 12924 Riverside Dr
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone: (818) 788-5050