Gino's East Deep Dish Pizza (Supermarket Version)

Categories: Grocery Guide

GinosEastHP.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Two pounds of pizza? That's what I like to see/read/taste.
I received many helpful leads following my post bemoaning the dearth of deep dish pizza options in Houston . I aim to follow up on many of these tips and began with this recommendation from commenter rgwalt:

I, too, miss deep dish pizza. The good news is that it is available frozen via the Geno's East "brand" at HEB. I believe Target has an offering as well, and possibly Fiesta or Kroger. The Gino's East frozen pizza at HEB is a good replacement if you need a fix.

A few others echoed his endorsement of Gino's East frozen pizza as a decent alternative to fresh deep dish. I jumped in the carriage and drove to H-E-B , where I found two varieties of Gino's East Deep Dish, garlic and spinach and the "meaty legend." I opted for the former since I am biased against animal protein-heavy pies, which I generally find too salty. In an ideal world, I would have sampled the plain "cheese" variety. But, of course, if I lived in an ideal world, I would also be paid to watch the Real Housewives for a living.

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Gino's East Spinach & Garlic Deep Dish Pizza, fresh out of the oven

In a bold and perhaps risky move, I decided to thaw the pizza in the fridge before baking it in the oven. This method is tacitly condoned by Gino's East, which recommends an adjusted baking time of approximately 20 minutes. Because, however, my pizza only reached partial defrosting during its six-hour stint in the fridge, it required a cooking time of more like 35 minutes. Once it emerged from the oven, I let it cool for a few minutes while I snacked on some purple cabbage, one strand of which somehow migrated onto the pizza dish (see photo).

GinosHP3.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
A hot delicious mess. Please ignore stowaway piece of purple cabbage.

Is Gino's East frozen deep dish comparable to the fresh Chicago restaurant deep dish pizza? No, not by any means. Was Gino's East deep dish pizza, at least the spinach and garlic variety, a satisfying, suitable replacement?

Yes. This pizza will not fulfill all your deep dish dreams. The texture of the cheese is inconsistent; sometimes a bit stringy, sometimes very thick, sometimes more like giant impenetrable blanket. Also, the center of the pizza was just a bit watery from an excess of spinach.

The crust, however, was terrific, with a slight cornmeal flavor, a buttery brown exterior, and a moist spongy base. The chopped roma tomatoes were so sweet and juicy I could probably convince you a stranger they'd never been frozen, and the spinach, even in its overabundance, was perfectly sauteed with a nice garlic zing. Macroscopic design was also very good, as Gino's East definitely knows that deep dish needs to comprise multiple, thick layers, beginning with crust and ending with tomatoes (or technically perhaps some sprinkled parmesan), to form a hefty pie from which you cut "pieces" not "slices."

Now, I have pre-gamed properly for my Chicago trip.

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16 comments
dvump25
dvump25

As a lifelong Chicagoan who moved to Houston in August 2012, I have missed my Chicago deep dish like you wouldn't believe. I was relegated to buying DiGiorno's once a week. Well, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this Gino's while on a trip to HEB a couple months ago. While this is not exactly like being at Gino's, trust me when I say this pizza is excellent. Yes, it's pricier than other frozen pizzas, but it IS tastier. I prefer the Meaty Legend, but both are good. It is filling and delicious!

Meander
Meander

Thanks for this review - I've seen the Gino at my HEB and I was wondering whether it was worth a shot! Now I'll try it!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I really like the deep dish pizzas they sell in the refrigerated (not frozen) section of Costco. They come pretty close to the Chicago experience.

Emily Kelly Hilton
Emily Kelly Hilton

I've had the divine pleasure of dining there live and in person...they ship frozen pies to all over the country, so this makes sense. Thanks for sharing --- and now I'm hungry!

manwalklikebear
manwalklikebear

I actually liked both varieties for being a 1000 miles away from the real deal. It's not perfect, but it's a great deal closer than any other local pizza I've ever had (I have not tried Chicago Italian Beef in the Heights yet). I think you might have better luck cooking directly frozen instead of thawed. Also, I thought the "meaty legend" was more authentic tasting.

Phillip Byron
Phillip Byron

I am a native Ny'er now living in Houston. Chicago Deep Dish pizza? Phooey! It's not pizza! It's a damn casserole! Ny style Pizza is Pizza!

rgwalt
rgwalt

Glad you enjoyed the pizza, and I think you are spot on with your review.  I've tried the meaty legend, and I prefer the spinach and garlic.

Craig White
Craig White

Tried it. It's ok but not like real deep dish

Jeff Berlat
Jeff Berlat

Nothing will replace being at Gino's East in Chicago.

AwesomeMargie
AwesomeMargie

But, of course, if I lived in an ideal world, I would also be paid to watch the Real Housewives for a living.

Ain't that the truth.

neilquan
neilquan

This kind of bias takes out all the fun in enjoying new and different things, Variety is the spice of life.

jsoleary
jsoleary

@Phillip Byron Why can't there multiple genres of pizza? Our nation should be a diverse geography of pie styles.

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