For John Coleman of Hyde Park, discovering Gino’s North (no association with the Gino’s East chain) was like "falling down the rabbit hole and hanging out with the Mad Hatter." A number of characters abound at this Edgewater pizzeria/bar, many endearing and almost all of them odd. One Centerstage reader accounted her experience by challenging that the only people who’d find the patrons here charming were those who thought three-week-old corpses were delightful. Ouch!
Overall the clientele mean well, many regulars drop in from nearby and yet others are self-proclaimed irregulars, like John. Dianne, serving up vodka lemonades ($2 on Thursdays), describes Gino's as an adult, anti pick-up bar where women feel safe. Local gays also find refuge stopping in for pizza before heading to the restaurant's sister business, Granville Anvil, down the block. And while the restaurant doesn't look like much on the outside, Dianne assures, "We're warm inside."
The exterior broadcasts a dumpy, chipped paint look just off the Granville L stop. Whereas on the inside, an art deco setting remains virtually unchanged since its opening back in the 1920s. Nostalgic attributes include mirrored walls, burgundy vinyl C-shaped booths and a heavenly statue (AKA Snow Drop) cased atop a fountain behind a long, wavy bar. Peggy Gelsomino, the 79-year-old pizza chef, animates the appeal with a movie star smile painted bright red-orange along with her fancy attire and hairdo. Her birthdays bring in the largest crowds. "Every man within a six-block radius comes in to dance with her," says Dianne.
Peggy marvels in a beta bowl-sized kitchen making her own pizza dough and sauce from scratch. John favors the Gino's Special: Italian sausage, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. Dianne claims the vegetarian offer is to die for. Pizzas come in four different sizes, in either thin crust or deep-dish, ranging from $6.95-$19.50. Once you visit, it's like Hotel California, John says, "You check in, and never leave." Gino's is cash only with no delivery available.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez