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Meet the Maker: Jordan Himmel, Gino’s East Pizza


Ginos East Pizza
Ginos East Pizza

In the pantheon of great Chicago deep-dish pizza, Gino’s East is about as good as it gets. A Chicago landmark since its founding by two taxi drivers in 1966, it’s become famous for its secret-recipe thick, deep golden crust and ample amount of cheese and toppings (the cheese pull is legendary). Outside of its three Chicagoland locations, Gino’s has also opened in Los Angeles, Wisconsin, and as far afield in Singapore, but you don’t need to travel at all in order to experience it: Gino’s East is also shipping nationwide on Goldbelly! 

We had the opportunity to speak with Jordan Himmel, the Chief Operating Officer of Gino’s parent company, Bravo Restaurants, about Gino’s history and what makes it such a Chicago icon. The following interview has been lightly edited.

Jordan Himmel
Jordan Himmel | Chief Operating Officer of Gino’s parent company, Bravo Restaurants

What is the origin story of Gino’s East?

The original Gino’s East was opened in 1966 by two taxi drivers, Sam Levine and Fred Bartoli, along with a friend, George Loverde. Driving up and down the Magnificent Mile, Levine and Bartoli knew a hit pizza spot right off of this busy stretch of road would be a sound investment. From this decision, Gino’s East was born! Our flagship is located at 162 E Superior St. – just steps away from the famed Magnificent Mile where the original Gino’s idea was born.

Image courtesy Gino’s East
Image courtesy Gino’s East

What do you believe sets it apart from the pack?

I believe what sets it apart from the rest and makes it unique is the secret ingrained in the process and ingredients. The method at Gino’s East slows down the entire pizza-making operation; we tenderly stretch the dough into the pan instead of slapping it around, and gently coax the sauce into each pie instead of splattering it. The other element that makes Gino’s pizza so unique – Well, that’s the secret! In addition to their perfected recipe, Gino’s East has created a secret dough conditioner. To this day, this dough conditioner is what gives their crust its special texture and taste; it’s the “it factor” that makes their pizzas taste like no other.

Can you tell me a little more about Alice and her influence?

Alice Mae Redmond, a phenomenally talented Black woman, developed a special dough recipe after working as a pizza chef at a competing restaurant over the previous 17 years. She was happy to take the reins in this new kitchen, and would spend the next 29 years creating the pizzas that made Gino’s East famous.

Alice Mae Redmond
Alice Mae Redmond | Image Courtesy Gino’s East

How has working with Goldbelly affected your business?

Working with Goldbelly has expanded our reach to many places across the country, especially for those who, after visiting us in Chicago, yearn to taste our pizzas once more. Goldbelly has provided us with the opportunity to connect with hundreds of customers from different regions who crave the experience of enjoying our pizzas in the comfort of their own homes. These customers now have the convenience of ordering our pizzas and having them delivered directly to their doorsteps, no matter where they are located. This partnership has truly allowed us to share our culinary creations with a wider audience and bring joy to pizza lovers nationwide.

Goldbelly Ginos East
Ginos East Pizza Goldbelly

Can you provide a rundown of your offerings?

Our restaurant features a diverse array of offerings, ranging from unique signature recipes to beloved classics, all of which we aim to replicate in our frozen pizza line. Our frozen pizza selection includes timeless favorites such as the traditional cheese and pepperoni alongside more adventurous options like the Meaty Legend and Crumbled Sausage. Whether it’s indulging in the comforting familiarity of a classic slice or exploring the bold flavors of our specialty pies, we strive to ensure that our frozen pizzas deliver the same quality and taste experience as dining in at our restaurant.

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