"I'm very pleased that we have two amazing actors joining the cast," executive producer Dick Wolf said in a statement. "I know this combination will give us the opportunity to explore the world of SVU with new eyes."
Mariska Hargitay, who played Meloni's on-screen partner, will return to the NBC series in a reduced capacity. At midseason, her character will be promoted to a supervisor's position, during which a new female detective will take her place. So far it's unclear whether Giddish will be Hargitay's replacement or if another cast member will be added at midseason. Jennifer Love Hewitt was initially being eyed as the replacement, but is no longer in contention.
Pino flew to New York last week to test opposite Hargitay. David Conrad (Ghost Whisperer), Kevin Alejandro (True Blood, Southland), Michael Raymond-James (Terriers) and Rhys Coiro (Entourage) were among the other contenders vying to fill Meloni's spot.