Ostensibly no one knows more about a city’s best dining destinations than the taxi drivers who ferry famished fares there…or at least, that’s the theory. The original Gino’s East was founded in 1966 by taxi drivers who lured away the pizza chef at Chicago’s Pizzeria Uno and started their own pizzeria. Gino’s East now relies on those taxi drivers for those precious and essential word of mouth referrals when passengers inquire as to the best pizzeria in a city of outstanding pizzerias. Once a year, the original Gino’s East rewards cabbies for those referrals by giving them a free personal pan pizza.
That’s just a little bit of marketing genius, but in a blue collar city, slick marketing isn’t good enough; you’ve also got to make a blue collar pizza–a thick, hearty pizza with a generous application of traditional ingredients. The fru-fru pizzas they serve in California with their line-up of sushi, avocado and celery genre ingredients just don’t cut it.
With a deep dish pizza that just may be the city’s best, Gino’s East has branched out in recent years and can now be found in the burbs, including the northwestern village of Lake Zurich. There’s no graffiti on the pristine walls in the Lake Zurich restaurant as there is in the Chitown original. Here you’ll find only posters celebrating local luminaries and notable events in the city’s history. You’ll also find a pizza that doesn’t deviate from the way it’s been done for generations at the original Gino’s East.
The ingredients are generously positioned so that every morsel includes at least one bite of the quality veggies and meat toppers. Sausage can be applied patty style or in the more traditional manner. In either case, it’s great Italian sausage, not some pathetic pretender. The sauce is made from thick Roma tomatoes not from some watery tomato sauce. It’s substantial and it’s delicious. Pizza isn’t the only restaurant offering.
Several appetizers (including “must have” garlic bread), soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees are also available. A fried calamari appetizer with marinara and cocktail sauces is a good introduction to your meal. With a Gino’s East in its midst, Lake Zurich has truly arrived.
Gino’s East of Chicago
561 West Main Street
Lake Zurich, Ilinois
LATEST VISIT: 10 June 2004
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Pan Pizza (sausage, onions, garlic, black olives, cheese)