Gino’s East – from Chicago to Phoenix

by RaeAnne Marsh

Gino’s East of Chicago brought a little of its namesake city with it when the pizza parlor expanded into Phoenix. The walls are hung with pictures of the city’s iconic landmarks. But there’s still plenty of room for the brand’s signature décor element: guests’ signatures and personal messages scrawled on every visible wall surface — even such seemingly inaccessible spots as the topmost stretches at the ceiling edge. Guests embraced the opportunity so eagerly that the Phoenix store, which opened just over a year ago, is already on successive layers of the management-encouraged graffiti.

A few strategically placed big-screen TV’s afford sports viewing to all the seats in the house, whether in the main dining room, the smaller room behind it, or the lounge and its patio extension.

There’s plenty of variety on the menu — including items that may be surprising, such as beignets for dessert — but the family-owned operation is justly well known for its distinctive deep-dish pizza. The crust is more reminiscent of corn bread than the common stretched yeast dough, and retains is fluffy, flaky character even reheated. Tasty sauce and a flavorful mix of cheeses — also proprietary recipes — are in perfect proportion to complement rather than overwhelm one another. Recognizing a “deep dish boom,” the owners added an extreme version of the deep-dish pizza, DeepAF — featuring 33 percent more dough, 75 percent more cheese and double the toppings — to the lineup last year.

Lunch specials aside from pizza include an Italian beef sandwich, a turkey club and hot salami, each served on its own special bread and with a salad and drink — accommodating lunch hour schedules with a promised 15-minute prep time and the convenience of a call-ahead option.

Gino’s East brought in Eddie Matney, an award-winning chef and a leader in the local culinary community, as a kitchen consultant to contribute R&D on quality and tweaks to improve flavor. “We’re not as corporate out here,” says Dalton Derenne, general manager of the Gino’s East Arizona location.

Phoenix joins a limited geography for Gino’s East of Chicago. Outside of Chicago, the restaurant previously had locations only in Wisconsin, Texas and Mexico.

Gino’s East of Chicago
3626 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix
(602) 441-0704

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