Chicago – Lou Malnati’s Pizza

When in Rome, or should I say when in Chicago, there are a few things you have to do.  Pizza is one of those things.  On a recent business trip to the Windy City I was introduced to Lou Malnati’s Chicago Style Pizza.  I’ve had pizza from the local competitors (Giordanos, Pequod’s, Gino’s) which I always enjoyed so I was not sure how this place would stack up.

We arrived around 7pm to a full house.  I’m not one to wait more than 10 minutes to be seated but waiting is the norm in Chicago so I went with the flow.  One interesting thing I noticed right away was the recommendation to order your pizza while you waited for your tableMore on this later…

If I’m at a place for the first time and with someone who’s been there before I always defer the ordering to them.  We ordered The “Malnati Chicago Classic” which is described as:

“Lou Malnati’s is legendary for its pizza in the pan, and here, sausage is the specialty of the house. Made with Lou’s exclusive blend of lean sausage, some extra cheese, and vine-ripened tomato sauce on our famous Buttercrust.”

Lou’s has a small bar with all the classics including one of my favorite local brews (Goose Island 312 IPA).  After securing a pint we reflected on the day (IT Conference) and talked a little business strategy (this was, after-all, a business trip).

After about 20 minutes we were seated and advised that our pizza had been “partially cooked” when we ordered it earlier.  We would have to wait another 15 minutes for the pie to be completed.  Given the size of the Chicago Deep Dish this “par cooking” is a great way to greatly shorten the wait for your pie (and is common in other deep dish pizza joints).    Another round of beers and our dinner was served.

I always forget just how big Chicago Pizza’s can be.  The circumference is normal but the thickness is unreal.  This particular pizza preparation has a layer of tomato “relish” on the top that really sets it off.  The VERY fresh tasting acidic  crushed tomatoes offset the richness of the cheese, sausage and crust.

The cheese and sausage ratio was ridiculously high in this pizza.  I particularly enjoyed the sausage since it had a somewhat mild taste that blended with the cheese very well.  Even better the Buttercrust has a nice firm, almost cracker like, texture that held up to the toppings.

Overall this was a great Chicago Pizza experience and a very filling on at that.  By the time our cab dropped us off at the hotel I almost needed to be rolled up to my room.

I always like trying new things and especially variations of existing favorites.  In this case I was introduced to yet another “style” of Chicago Style pizza and it was worth the wait!

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (River North) on Urbanspoon

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