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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Chicago Style – Part 3

Thursday, May 19, 2011 @ 12:05 PM

lou-malnatis-chicago-il-540x361This post is a week late, primarily because the hubby and I were enjoying a much needed break on the "All-Inclusive" beaches of Puerta Vallarta last week (and don’t worry….I’ll be sure to make it up with an extra post soon).  It was great to get away and enjoy some 90 degree temps, only to be caught off guard by the 40 degrees when we stepped off the plane back in Chicago.  Luckily, with some beautiful sunshine today, it looks as though spring might finally be here.

But before you get too comfortable with me talking about the lovely change of season, I am actually going to drag you back into the cold of December for our 3rd installment of discussions about "Chicago Style" pizza.  You may remember my first and second posts featuring the famed Giordano’s and Gino’s East, but now we move on to one that is just as equally famous and well known throughout the city, with a history and name that is considered one of the oldest when it comes to Chicago pizza.

Lou Malnati’s just recently celebrated its 40th year in the Chicago pizza making business and they are continuing to go strong.  Started in Lincolnwood, IL in 1971, Lou and his wife Jean took their passion and know-how of Chicago deep dish learned from years of working at the famed Pizzeria Uno and started their own joint.  This family owned and operated company has become so well loved and received they now have 32 locations in and around the Chicago-land area, serving up their handmade from scratch pizza creations.  They are such a Chicago staple, there is a long running argument about who serves up a better pie…, them or Uno’s, which is still to come on our list and was the originator of "Chicago Style," although Lou himself was the first pizza chef, causing such a rivalry over the years even Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” came for a visit…

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJs2-kNaJwI

Although a tough battle, with its heart and story, it is no wonder Lou’s reigned victorious in this battle…, they truly are a pizza legend in Chicago. 

For as famous as they are, I admit it was a long time before I even set foot inside one of their restaurants.  This wasn’t because I was unwilling to try a bite, rather I was just unaware of their fame.  I knew of the biggies…, Uno, Gino’s East, and Giordano’s, but this is largely due to their tourist popularity and given that they are all located in the heart of downtown.  Before I ever lived in the city, I only ever ventured to those spots. However, when I became a local, I found out the real deal.  Lou Malnati’s, while also very famous in its own right, seems to be a more popular spot amongst locals because of its family neighborhood atmosphere and less touristy reputation.  While I will admit that I LOVE the others I mentioned, it is often a drawback that they are always packed to the gills.

Adam and I visited Lou’s quite a few times while we lived in the city, but it wasn’t until we moved away and I started this blog that we knew a future trip where we documented the full experience was in order; and it just so happened that back in December we were in the city for my birthday getaway and when we were deciding what restaurants we wanted to try and hit up, we knew Lou’s was a must…, I mean what is better than some good ol’ warm and cheesy deep dish? Especially when it is so friggin’ windy and frigid outside! 

So we headed on over the Lincoln Park location and lucky for us we did not have to wait long. One nice thing about many of the deep dish spots is that you can put your order in before you even have a table.  With each pizza taking about 45 minutes to bake and hunger often setting in the minute you step inside the doors, this is a wonderful feature to cut down on some of the waiting time.  So, we grabbed a couple of beers and proceeded to order the “Malnati Chicago Classic…,” a deep dish pie with their famous sausage.

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Look how delicious, cheesy and buttery that pie looks! It is everything we wanted it to be.

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As with most "Chicago Style" pizza, I can usually make it through about one slice and I am done.  However, Lou Malnati’s pizza isn’t as bready as many of the other places and doesn’t leave you feeling quite as stuffed…, a fact I enjoy.  Also, their sausage is pretty darn unique in that it is a whole circular piece of sausage, so you are guaranteed to get a piece with every bite, which really does add to the flavor (This is actually a technique invented by Gino’s East…).  And let’s just say their buttery crust is certainly yummy and always enjoyed at the end; and while I still am a die-hard Giordano’s fan, which I am aware is not really considered in the same realm as the other deep dish spots because it is technically "stuffed pizza," Lou’s comes in a very close second for me…definitely ahead of Gino’s.  I just think Lou Malnati’s has managed to do it right when it comes to their crust, cheese, toppings, and sauce….a real winning combination!

SIGNATURE DISH: As the title of this post indicates…, "CHICAGO-STYLE" DEEP-DISH PIZZA!!!

TASTE: I am often not one to turn down pizza; and even not so good pizza is often perfectly fine in my book, so it is hard for me to compare my loves for "Chicago Style" deep dish.  I truly do love it in almost every way, shape, and form, and Lou Malnati’s is right up there with some of the best.  As I said above, while I do enjoy Giordano’s better, Lou’s is for sure 2nd in my book.  I am not sure Adam would rank them in this manner, but I really don’t like Gino’s all that much, so therefore this is how I will choose to proceed! Winking smile

AMBIANCE: Where Lou’s differs from other deep dish joints especially, is it definitely has more of a neighborhood feel.  While on any given night it certainly will draw a crowd, it is a crowd of regulars instead of an almost 2 hour waits worth of tourists.  Decorated very simply and classically with Chicago paraphernalia, it just has the feel of a great local pizza joint.

SERVICE: Every time we have ever visited Lou’s, we have been treated well and served as quickly as possible.  One perk I love is that they allow you to pre-order while you wait, thus cutting down on the overall waiting time. This visit they even had thin crust pizza munchies for us while we waited, which always elevates the experience in my book! 

PRICE: While Chicago-style is relatively more expensive than say…. Pizza Hut, I find Lou’s prices to be extremely reasonable.  At $10 – 20 from a small to large pizza, that is comparable to the prices at most of the local family owned places by us.  And although they are famous, it would seem they have not tried to jack up their prices just for that reason, another plus in my book.

So while I very rarely discriminate when it comes to pizza (as I mentioned), Chicago Deep Dish certainly holds rank when it comes to what I crave the most, and Lou Malanti’s is for sure right up there with what I consider to be some of the best!  And while I have not tried them all, I certainly have tried the majority and Lou’s ranks right near the top of the ‘Little Piggy’ list with a 4.

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2 Responses to “Chicago Style – Part 3”

  1. Thanks so much for dedicating your blog post to us, Katie! We’re happy you enjoyed your visit to our restaurant and hope to see you back again soon!

  2. jealous of your vaca–that sounds glorious!

    Lou’s is one of my favorites! Great recap 🙂

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