Friday, July 31, 2015

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for July: Gino's East Chicago Pizzeria Comes to San Antonio! #DeepDishIntheHeartofTexas

On a trip to Chicago a few year's back, we stayed at a hotel on the city's famed Michigan Avenue. We were here hungry for some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and discovered that Gino's East was a short walk from our hotel. We feasted on delicious deep-dish pizza that featured a buttery crust, tons of cheese and toppings, and a zesty tomato sauce. We commented we wished we could take the taste back to San Antonio with us. Imagine our delight when we found out Gino's was opening a few locations in Texas, including one right here in San Antonio! Gino's East San Antonio opened this April, and they recently invited us for a visit to sample some of signature menu items. It was truly an authentic taste of Chicago right here in Texas -- just take a look at that gooey cheese and deep dish crust! 
We arrived at Gino's and were quickly seated. While we looked over the menu, we were warmly welcomed by Gino's manager Gumero Obregon. Chicago-style pizza takes about 45 minutes to bake, so we ordered as soon as we ordered our drinks. One deep-dish pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage coming right up! While we waited for our pizza to bake, we decided to share an appetizer from the menu with our sodas. The Caprese Jar Salad was gorgeous to look at...and delicious to eat!
It featured fresh mozzarella, lots of fresh basil, and halved grape tomatoes. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette was poured over the jarred salad tableside, then the entire salad is spooned onto crunchy garlic toasts. Is it it a salad...or is it bruschetta? It's basically a hybrid of both...and amazing! It was a perfect start to our dinner. Our helpful server suggested that we also give the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta appetizer a try. 

While waited for the Brussels sprouts to arrive, we snapped a few pictures of Gino's East's inviting and casual decor. The Brussels sprouts were tender inside, crispy around the edges...and smoky from the generous helping of pancetta cooked with them. Before we knew it, our pizza was ready! It was served piping hot in a cast iron pan. All it took was one bite to recognize the flavors we remembered from our visit to Gino's East in Chicago.
If you've never eaten authentic Chicago-style pizza be aware: it's very filling! I can normally only eat 1-2 pieces. On the bright side, that means plenty of extras to take home and enjoy the next day! This is the real deal, people: golden crust, zesty tomatoes, lots of gooey mozzarella, and a generous amount of pepperoni and Italian sausage. By the time we ate about half of the pizza, we decided we were full...but our server told us we simply had to try their Cinnamon & Sugar Fried Dough Balls. Who knew pizza dough could also be a dessert?!?!?
While we waited for the dessert to arrive, we took part in a Gino's East tradition: writing our name on the walls! As you can see above, we added our names and the date that The Weekend Gourmet came to visit. Before we knew it, dessert arrived. The dough balls were sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, along with a container of maple syrup for dipping. Totally sinful...sort of a cross between doughnut holes and French toast. By then, we were totally stuffed, so it was time to head home. 

Gino's East San Antonio is located at 8224 Fredericksburg Road, near the medical center. They're open for lunch and dinner, so you can get your deep-dish pizza fix whenever a craving strikes. For my Texas readers, Gino's East also has locations in the Houston area (The Woodlands and Willowbrook), Austin, and Arlington.

Disclosure: Gino's East San Antonio hosted us for dinner to facilitate this feature. All photographs are copyrighted by Michael K. Garcia and may not be used without prior permission. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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