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Gino’s East

Reviews Venture Meridian

Best Pizza in Idaho is the best in the World?

August 14, 2016

During our trip through New York, Italy, Malta and Chicago we were in some of the best locations in the world for pizza. Being pizza lovers, we decided to do some research and sample pizza from highly rated restaurants at each of these stops. A “world pizza tour” if you will. We were definitely not disappointed, but quite surprised at the results.

The first stop was the best rated pizza joint in New York, Juliana’s, which was located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Brooklyn. This pizza set the bar high for the rest of the trip. We ordered a traditional margarita pizza and paired it with a glass of wine (Lacey) and a local beer (Mat). The crust was thin, so of course we folded it, New York style. The basil on the pizza was extremely fresh and flavorful, with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. We easily ate the entire pie.  Juliana’s blend of Italian style with New York style is delicious while the authentic feel of their restaurant beneath the Brooklyn Bridge completes the experience.

The next stop on our pizza tour was Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Gusta Pizza is famous for making pizzas in the shape of a heart. These pizzas were just as delicious as they were adorable. This Italian pizza had amazing fresh mozzarella piled on and thin, flaky crust. The basil didn’t taste as fresh or flavorful as Juliana’s, but something about drinking wine out of a paper cup made the entire experience feel authentic.  We were both pleasantly surprised with the quality ingredients and flavor of Gusta’s pizza and charmed by the adolescent “date night” feel of the restaurant.  Who wouldn’t want to share a heart shaped pizza with a love interest? #adorbs

The third stop on our world pizza tour was at Ir-Rokna’s Restaurant on the Mediterranean island of Malta.  Ir-Rokna’s was established in 1975 and is officially the oldest pizza joint on the island.  Trip Advisor awarded this place with a certificate of excellence so our expectations were set pretty high even before walking in.  Their wood burned pizza did not disappoint.  Similarly to Juliana’s in Brooklyn, Ir-Rokna’s pizza is a blend of NY style with Italian style.  The fresh ingredients, most noticeably being the basil, accompanied with the family recipe sauce make each bite more flavorful than the one before.  The owners and staff were fantastic to us the entire night, especially being that we arrived late and were the last patrons in the restaurant by the end of the night.  We never felt pressured to leave or do anything other than enjoy their delicious food and local wines.

Our final stop was one that we were both looking forward to the most; Gino’s East in Chicago, IL.  For 50 years, Gino’s has been serving up their legendary, deep dish, Chicago style pizza from their Superior Avenue location in the windy city.  This old school, graffiti filled, restaurant was where we visited the last day of our trip.  Being veterans of Gino’s (been there once before), we knew that two people have absolutely no chance of finishing a large pizza.  Gino’s pizza is the definition of “deep dish”.  It is about 3 inches thick and has a very dense crust that is unlike any pizza we’ve ever had.  That being said, we ordered a medium this time and still didn’t finish it.  If you’re unfamiliar with authentic Chicago style pizza, the cheese makes up the first layer above the crust and the sauce is on top of the cheese.  It looks kind of funky if you’re used to seeing a regular American style pizza.  Gino’s pizzas require over an hour to bake due to the thickness.  Their sauce is amazing and there is a lot of it on each slice.  It perfectly balances the thickness of the crust and layer of cheese to make sure each bite is juicy and full of flavor.  The original Gino’s East location is full of memorabilia from all of the celebrities that have visited this location over the years.  It makes the experience even cooler knowing that past presidents, hall of fame athletes, and world renown musicians have dined in the very spot you may be sitting in.  We love Gino’s!

After our “World Pizza Tour” wrapped up and we were back home in Idaho, we started reminiscing about all of the wonderful pizza experiences we had during the previous 15 days.  The basil of Juliana’s in Brooklyn, the heart shaped and heart warming Gusta Pizza in Florence, the family recipe pizza in Malta, and the legendary thick crust of Gino’s in Chicago.  It’s hard not to get hungry just typing that sentence.  Anyways, which one did we like best? After a lengthy discussion, we agreed that Julianna’s was our favorite.  Surprising right? Didn’t you think we would pick Gino’s East? So did I.  What was even more surprising to us after our choice was our answer to the following question; “Would you rather have Juliana’s pizza or Idaho’s own, Chicago Connection pizza?”  Without hesitating, we both answered “Chicago Connection”.  Does this mean the best pizza in Idaho (our opinion) is also the best pizza in the world?  You be the judge.

As always, please check out Venture Meridian Magazine and show them some love for supporting us by letting us have our monthly column!

Best Pizza in Idaho

Chicago Connection Pizza in Downtown Boise, ID

Best Pizza in Idaho

Best Pizza in Idaho

Gino's East, Chicago | DitchingNormal

The original Gino’s East in Chicago.

Gino's East Celebrity Wall | DitchingNormal

Gino's East Chicago Style Pizza | DitchingNormal

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana’s in Brooklyn, NY

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Ir Rokna Pizza Malta

Ir-Rokna Pizza in Malta

Ir-Rokna Pizza Malta

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Travel

Our Weekend in Chicago

July 14, 2016

Chicago is quickly climbing up the ranks on our most favorite cities in the world list. The last 2 times we have visited, it seemed like the city, people, and weather have been teaming up to sweep us off our feet. Our most recent visit was no different. Again, with beautiful weather and friendly people, here’s how Lacey and I spent an early summer weekend in Chicago.

First off, I’m a big believer in managing expectations. If you’re expecting too much out of city, event, vacation, or anything else, odds are you’ll end up disappointed if it doesn’t live up to the hype. On the flip side, if you go into something with an open mind you have a greater chance of being pleasantly surprised. This was exactly the case with us and Chicago.  We had no expectations.  We just wanted to hang out and eat some pizza.

We stopped in Chicago this May on our way home from our 15 day Euro-Trip. The weather was absolutely beautiful at 65 degrees and sunny. We visited a few touristy locations such as the Skydeck at the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) as well as “The Bean” (Cloud Gate) in Millennium Park. Once again, we felt safe on public transportation and found everyone we were surrounded by on the streets and in restaurants to be welcoming and friendly.

We were lucky enough to stay at the historic Palmer House hotel during our weekend in Chicago. We had some Hilton Honors rewards to burn so we decided to use them in style. A funny thing I’ve noticed when we stay at fancy hotels for free is that the employees of the hotel react to us being there the same way Clark Griswold reacts when Cousin Eddy shows up for Christmas. All that aside, we enjoyed our stay and got back at the hotel a bit by “accidentally” sneaking into an executive lounge continental breakfast. Thanks for the free waffles Palmer House!

After breakfast, we walked over to Millennium Park to check out “the Bean“. While this has become a must see for travelers and instagrammers, we had actually never been there before. As with most pieces of art we’ve been lucky enough to visit recently, Cloud Gate (the bean) was much cooler in person than we expected it to be. We ended up hanging around it for about an hour. I snapped some funny pics of Lace rockin’ cheerleader moves in front of it that you can see below.

We left Millennium Park and hopped on a metro over to the Willis Tower where we had pre-purchased “Fast Pass” tickets to go up to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor. While pre-purchasing these tickets cost us about $20 more, it saved us at least 2 hrs of standing in lines. Totally worth it. The views of Chicago and Lake Michigan from the SkyDeck Lounge are crazy beautiful. While up there, we stepped out onto the “Skydeck Ledge” which is basically a glass cube that extends out from the building and over the city. It’s a pretty overwhelming experience.  As an added bonus, the 30th anniversary of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is this year, so there is a roped off area where you can stand next to Sloane Peterson and Cameron Frye mannequins and put your head on the glass in the exact spot Matthew Broderick (Ferris) did.  Getting to do this was super cool for me as I grew up with that movie.

After our nervous stomachs calmed down from being in the Skydeck, we decided it was pizza time. Eating at Gino’s East has become a “must-do” each time we visit this city. Their super deep dish, sauce on top of the cheese, traditional Chicago style pizza is amazing. Gino’s has been around for 50 years and has multiple locations but we always go back to the original restaurant on Superior Ave. This graffiti tagged, celebrity memorabilia filled pizza joint makes for a fun and authentic experience while waiting the standard 1 hour of required baking time for the deep dish crust. If you haven’t been, you need to stop by on your next visit to Chicago. If you’re with a group of 2-3 people, believe us, a medium pizza will be plenty.

Our weekend in Chicago was once again awesome. The only thing missing was a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately they were out of town 🙁 Next time Cubbies!

We’re becoming so fond of this city that we’ve already booked our next trip!

See you in January Chicago!

 

Let us know if you have any questions!

Click here to see our video edit from this trip.

Click here to see how we used rewards points to book this trip for free!

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend In Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

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