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First Texas Gino's East Location Opens in The Woodlands

An iconic Chicago deep dish finally arrives in the Lone Star state.

A Chicago-style deep dish pizza cult favorite has arrived in Greater Houston.
A Chicago-style deep dish pizza cult favorite has arrived in Greater Houston.
Jakeisha Wilmore



It's a deep-dish pizza miracle. The pizza gods have bestowed Texas with the gift of an iconic Chicago pizzeria a few weeks before Christmas. Gino's East, the Windy City cult favorite, officially opened its first Texas outpost December 11 in The Woodlands (technically in Spring) at 25657 Interstate 45, formerly Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill.

Fans of the Chicago-based pizza restaurant will be pleased to know that great strides were taken to ensure the pie's integrity and quality remained in tact. Managers and other staff from The Woodlands trained at the original Gino's East for weeks, mastering the art of deep-dish pizzas. Leading up to opening day, staff from Gino's East in Chicago assisted with kneading, measuring dough and every miniscule detail that goes into the making of a legendary pizza like the beloved Meaty Legend (pepperoni, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon and bacon).

Chicago Fire (hot and spicy sausage, fire-roasted red peppers and red onions), Zio Gino (tomato sauce, sausage, marinated sweet peppers and caramelized onions), other well-known specialty pies, pastas and sandwiches are on the menu, but what sets the Lone Star restaurants apart are offerings specifically for the Texas palate. Longing for barbecue? Order the BBQ Brisket 'Za, a pizza with beef brisket, red and yellow peppers and caramelized onions. And because everything's bigger in Texas, there's the Deep-Dish Nachos served with refried beans, cheddar cheese, jalapeños and pico de gallo. Guest can top their tortilla chip mountains with barbecue brisket if their inner cowboy/cowgirl craves it. Goose Island brews from Chicago are on tap along with Saint Arnold and additional Houston beers. The bar boasts a wide variety of spirits and a small offering of wines.

Aside from the Texas offerings, traditions from the Chicago restaurants will carry over into Texas. Visit any location in Chicago and the walls are littered with signatures, drawings and sayings. Gino's East encourages customers to leave their personal mark for years to come and the custom will live on in Texas. At The Woodlands restaurant, wood paneled columns throughout the restaurant have been designated for guests to write upon. Other Chicago touches include photos and drawn caricatures of celebrities visiting Gino's East or eating the iconic deep-dish pie.

Unlike Neapolitan and New York-style pizza most are accustomed to, the average deep dish pizza takes much longer to cook, partly due to the dough which produces a thick yet somewhat brittle texture. Expect a 45 min to an hour wait for a pizza and order toasted cheesy pizza bread or crispy Brussels sprouts with bacon to hold you over. Televisions stationed throughout every section of the restaurant also helps the time fly by faster. During lunch hours, guests can order individual deep dish pies which take a fraction of the time to prepare.

The pizza is good but is it worth the 45 minute to an hour and 15 minute drive? That all depends on your level of deep-dish pizza devotion. The good news is ATX Brands is opening more locations in Texas and in the Greater Houston area next year. The next restaurant will open January 15 at 17116 Tomball Parkway in the Willowbrook vicinity.

Gino's East

25657 Interstate 45, The Woodlands, TX 77380

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