First 5 Jewel Stores, effective April 14.

  •  2485 Howard Street, Evanston                         
  • 1600 Deerfield Road, Highland Park               
  • 9449 Skokie Blvd., Skokie                                  
  • 79 McHenry Road, Buffalo Grove                    
  •  3531 N. Broadway, Chicago

Added suburban Jewel stores, effective May 15

  • 2775 Pfingsten, Glenview
  • 1340 Patriot, Glenview
  •  3426 Waukegan Road, Glenview
  • 1150 West Maple Ave, Mundelein
  • 2508 1763 W Howard St, Chicago
  • 3405 W Grand Gurnee

Additional grocers by 6/30:

  • Sunset Foods Stores
  • Highland Park
  • Lake Forest
  • Long Grove
  • Libertyville
  • Northbrook
  • Mariano’s
  • Evanston
  • Buffalo Grove

Forthcoming grocers by 9/30

More Mariano’s # TBD, Heinen’s Lake Bluff, 7 Treasure Islands.



Pie (No Longer) in the Sky

How one determined rabbi made the world-famous Gino’s deep dish kosher for Chicago’s Jews
Thirty-five minutes.

That’s how long it takes to cook one of the new, highly-anticipated kosher Gino’s East pizzas.
But for Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz, the man responsible for bringing Chicago’s world-famous pie into kosher homes, it took closer to five years.

Back in 2012, Moscowitz, who co-founded Bucktown Chabad’s The Living Room Chabad center with his wife Sara, wanted to make legitimate Chicago-style deep dish pizza available to the kosher community. The rabbi brought his idea to the top of the pizza empire.

Gino’s East was polite but clear: never going to happen.

You can’t blame them for their hesitation. After all, creating such a pizza would require juggling the demands of two long-held and uncompromising culinary traditions: Jewish dietary laws on one hand, and Gino’s proprietary recipes on the other. Every single factor of the operation, from the ingredients to the restaurant equipment, would have to appease the laws set down by ancient rabbis, and please the palates of Gino’s chefs.

moscow.jpgCount Rabbi Moscowitz among the undaunted. Rabbi Moscowitz foresaw that appeal while others were still calculating the risks. But as anyone who’s been around him would attest: if you want Rabbi Yosef to do something, just tell him it’s impossible.

When he returned to Gino’s offices the following year, his idea found a more receptive ear.

"It's been a long process,” Gino’s president JeffreyHimmel told Chicago’s DNAinfo. Himmel, who co-owns the restaurant with his father Ivan, says it was the Himmel senior who rooted for kosher pizza. “He kept pushing me and asking about it.”

Logistics were discussed, and tastings were scheduled to see if kosher ingredients could fulfill the high standards that Gino’s is famous for.

They could. And they did—at least judging by the collective “mmmmm”’s filling the rabbi’s Facebook feed this past week.

A frozen version of the deep-dish kosher pizza available in cheese and cheese-and-spinach varieties, is currently sold at the top five branches of Chicago’s Jewel grocery chain at a retail price of $11.99. Eventually, the frozen pies will be available at all Jewel stores, as well as in other grocery stores that sell kosher products.

Excited reactions, messages of gratitude, and even stories from childhood have come from every corner of the kosher community. For the observant-from-birth, the pizza offered a chance to finally sample their own city’s signature dish. Younger parents could please picky eaters, and perhaps some proud Chicagoans could finally defend themselves to their New York counterparts in the age-old Chicago/NY pizza debate.

But the most noticeable reaction has come from young or newly-observant Jews. One of the larger struggles experienced by those transitioning from secular to observant living is saying goodbye to familiar foods and favorite restaurants. Due to its personal and logistical challenges, that sacrifice is a common deterrent. That’s the sweet spot Gino’s fills: it offers the newly-observant a reunion with their past, and makes a future of keeping kosher feel more welcoming and accessible.

And soon, promises Rabbi Moscowitz, kosher consumers will enjoy Gino’s East Vegetarian, the kosher Gino’s storefront that is scheduled to open for business on the ground floor of the Bucktown Chabad house. The 4.5-million dollar center is now under renovation, and the storefront is slated to open sometime in 2018.
Gino's East Frozen Kosher Pizzas To Debut Next Week After Years Of Planning

 Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz is planning to bring a Gino's East Vegetarian pizzeria to Wicker Park, as part of an expansion of the Bucktown Wicker Park Chabad Jewish Center. 
Gino's East Vegetarian in Wicker Park
WICKER PARK — The nation's first Gino's East Kosher pizzeria is still in the works for a Wicker Park storefront, but the religious leader behind the long-anticipated spot and the president of the iconic deep dish pizza chain say frozen pies will come first.

Set to be available for sale at a five Jewel grocery stores next Wednesday, the Gino’s East Kosher pizzas will be offered in cheese and cheese and spinach varieties, according to Jeffrey Himmel, president of Chicago-based Gino’s East Restaurant Corp.

"It's been a long process. We have been testing cheese to get a match for over 20 years. My dad has been the driver on this… He is going to be 91. He kept pushing me and asking about it,” said Himmel, who co-owns Gino's East with his father Ivan Himmel.

Himmel said the price of the 9-inch frozen pies will be $11.99, but Gino's plans to offer a buy-one, get-one free promotion near the end of April. Himmel said at least six Jewel stores will carry the pizzas to start.

Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz, leader of the Bucktown Wicker Park Chabad at 1630 N. Milwaukee Ave., announced plans for the fully Kosher Gino’s pizzeria in 2014, to be called "Gino's East Vegetarian" and located on the ground floor of the Jewish center.

Himmel confirmed on Tuesday that Moscowitz signed a
 franchise agreement last year after a few years of negotiations. Himmel said Moscowitz has the green light to open the city's first Gino’s East Kosher

“He is working on it, he does have the right to do it and hopefully he can do it. From what I understand, their facility is under renovations,” said Himmel.

Himmel said that the Moscowitz is involved in Gino's frozen Kosher pizza operation as a partner, and has been testing recipes and giving feedback, but that the brand is still wholly owned by Gino's East.

Before a Passover seder on Monday, Moscowitz said that the group has been delayed with getting permits for its pizzeria but the restaurant is still planned for the future.

Last Friday, Moscowitz shared the announcement of the frozen pizzas — "Our delicious, elevated version of Chicago's famous deep dish pizza"— on his Facebook page.

"Stay tuned in the coming months for more on our brick-and-mortar pizzeria, and enjoy your break from chametz because once it's over, it's going to taste better than ever!" Moscowitz posted.

Chametz is the Hebrew word for leavened food items such as bread, which are prohibited during the eight day Passover holiday, which started on Monday and ends next Tuesday night.

The frozen pizzas will debut at the grocery's top 5 stores for Kosher sales before spreading to more Jewels and eventually more grocers with Kosher sections.

Those stores are: 2485 Howard Street in Evanston (across the street from West Ridge); 3531 N. Broadway in Lakeview; 1600 Deerfield Road in Highland Park; 9449 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie; and 79 McHenry Road in Buffalo Grove.

And while right now there is one Wisconsin-based supplier for the cheese used in the pies, Himmel said other vendors could likely start making Kosher cheese if the pies are a hit sales wise.

Though Jeffrey Himmel said his early years were spent growing up in a Kosher household, he emphasized that there is a wider market for Kosher foods than Jewish people.

"A lot of people eat Kosher food who aren't Jewish," Himmel said.