Etching Your Name into the Wall at Gino’s East in Chicago, Illinois
Opened by a couple of entrepreneurial cab drivers in 1966, Gino’s East may not be as old as some of the other haunts purveying Chicago-style deep dish ’za, but their pies are no less authentic. Handmade cornmeal crusts are topped with as much as a pound of mozzarella cheese, a mess of crushed tomatoes and toppings (including a sausage patty running nearly the entire length of the crust) and then baked in heavy cast-iron pans. While each mouthwatering slab is firm enough to eat by hand, many prefer the fork-and-knife method. Carryout and delivery are available, and those in far-off corners will appreciate Gino’s mail order business, but the real treat is visiting the flagship downtown location, where patrons are invited (with crayons at the table) to add their own personal scrawl to the colorful graffiti plastering the dark wood walls of this legendary pizza parlor.