Today's the day that deep dish powerhouse Gino's East unveils that especial Mexican-themed location in Pilsen. And while some may inevitably decry the opening as another notch in the gentrification of the near South Side Mexican-heavy neighborhood, the restaurant is built to fit snugly into the fabric of the hood: it's small, it's not on a main drag, it's unique, and it's being run by a longtime resident.
Inspired by the company's Mexico City restaurant that opened in early 2015, the Pilsen menu, in full below and available for delivery as well, is chock full of Mexican twists on the pizzeria's staples. The pizza section employs Latin ingredients including carnitas, pastor, chorizo, poblano and serrano peppers and Oaxaca and cojito cheeses. Such ingredients also appear on other dishes, such as a Caesar salad with pastor and an Oaxacan caprese salad, and there's also straight-up Mexican items including pozole verde soup and esquites. A variety of Latin-influenced cocktails, boozy horchatas, beer, wine and spirits are on the beverage side.
The space itself is much more reminiscent of a neighborhood cafe than a chain restaurant. The small spot, with only a front dining room and short hallway that leads to the kitchen and service bar, is lined with blue-painted walls and Mexican murals. Take a look around above.
Gino's East Pilsen, 1659 W. 21st St., (312) 226-8770. Open noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.