March 2011: I’ll start with the short version: The best pizza I’ve ever had was at Lou Malnati’s. I’ve had pizza at dozens and dozens of places. In general, I prefer some hand tossed crust that’s not too thick, but thick enough to hold a heap of toppings. In the last few years, I’ve taken a liking to deep dish, even though I’m not huge fan of sauce at many pizzerias. To be fair, there aren’t any places in my area to get a good deep dish, so my experiences are far and few between. When I’m on the road, I love to stop at Giordiano’s if there’s one in the city I’m in. It’s been my absolute favorite… until now.
We were in Chicago, and I knew I wanted to get a real deep dish pizza. I was down to deciding between Gino’s East and Lou Malnati’s. Since there was a Lou Malnati’s full service restaurant in Naperville (which was closer to my hotel than the main location), I decided to give it a shot. Upon arriving, the place smells heavenly. We take our seats and order a pie. I ordered the The “Malnati Chicago Classic” pizza, which is a deep dish with the house-made lean sausage, extra cheese, on Lou’s special Buttercrust™. We added pepperoni to the pizza, as it always seems like something we need to have.
30 minutes later, our pizza arrives, and it’s not quite as thick as a traditional deep dish pizza. so I begin to worry. The waitress pulls out our first slice, and we decide to dig in. The first bite removed all doubt from my mind. Everything about this pizza was absolute perfection. The sausage had a unique flavor, the pepperoni and cheese were plentiful, and the crust was definitely special. Even the sauce was delicious. (As Guy Fieri might say, you could pour that sauce over a flip flop and eat it.) The sausage was almost like a modified breakfast sausage layered thickly on the every bite of the pizza. It really worked well. We ate a few slices, making sure to save room for dessert.
Dessert was a Chocolate Chip Pizza. Basically, it’s a chocolate chip cookie baked into the bottom of a deep dish pizza pan, with a few scoops of vanilla bean ice cream on top. The ice cream slowly melts on top of the chewy warm cookie, creating the best dessert I’ve ever had. (The Tilted Kilt chain of restaurants has a similar dessert, which was my previous favorite, but somehow Lou Malnati’s makes a better cookie/ice cream combo. I didn’t think that was even possible.) The dessert was also delicious, so this was a great meal all around. The service was good, the prices were reasonable (roughly $33 for a medium deep dish pizza, dessert for two, tax, tip, etc.), and the place was just great all around. As we were heading back to our hotel, I saw a Papa John’s delivery vehicle. I wondered how on earth Papa John’s pizza can possibly survive in a place like Chicago when there are places like Lou Malnati’s around. You’d be crazy not to stop here if you’re in the area. This place was phenomenal..
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Show: Food Paradises — Episode: Pizza Paradises
Restaurant Info: Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria — 439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610* — (312) 828-9800