Neighborhood Restaurant Reviews | Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria — Chicago-Style Deep Dish

Today we’re kicking off a brand-new Neighborhood Restaurant Review blog series where we will visit restaurants in Chicago and share about our experience. We love Chicago and we love food and think this will be a fun way to share about some great restaurants in neighborhoods near our buildings in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and the Gold Coast.
This week is National Pizza Week and besides our sports teams and Italian beef, there’s nothing else Chicagoans are more passionate about than their deep-dish pizza.
Unlike traditional pizzas with hand-tossed or pre-made crusts, true Chicago deep-dish pizza dough is patted out by hand and raised up on the sides of the pan. The crust is intentionally kept thin to make space for all of the delicious toppings. One thing that makes Chicago style deep-dish unique is that pizzas are assembled in reverse order. Slices of mozzarella cheese are placed directly on top of the dough and additional ingredients are  layered on top of the cheese. The final touch is a hearty helping of fresh tomato sauce right on top. And, depending on the pizza joint, additional cheese and spices are sprinkled on top.

While there is no shortage of places to get an ooey gooey slice of this Windy City-inspired culinary marvel, we chose one of our favorites: Lou Malnati’s. Lou Malnati’s has been baking up deep-dish pizzas since 1943 and has over 33 locations in the Chicagoland area. Lou’s is so famous for their deep-dish that they ship frozen pizzas to their fans all around the country!

For our first review, we decided to hit up their newest location in the Gold Coast which is located just steps away from many of Planned Property’s Gold Coast highrises.
The restaurant is spacious and has space for private parties and functions. We went shortly after the lunch rush and didn’t have to wait long for a table. [Pro tip: If there is a wait for tables when you go, you can order your pizza in advance as the baking time is about 45 minutes, and when you are seated your pizza won’t be far behind!]

We decided to start out our meal with the Malnati Salad. This crowd-pleaser was loaded with black olives, tomatoes, crumbled Volpi salami, and gorgonzola cheese tossed with Lou’s sweet vinaigrette. Each bite was bursting with flavor and the crunchy romaine lettuce was great compared to the typical iceberg lettuce in most restaurant salads. We all had good servings of the salad and still had some leftover!

When it came to the pizzas, we relied on our server Jose’s recommendations. He suggested that we try a deep dish pizza and a thin crust pizza. The deep dish, surprisingly, has more tomato sauce than thin crust and thin crust pizzas have more cheese than the deep dish.
For the deep dish we decided to go for the gusto and ordered the Chicago classic deep-dish with sausage, pepperoni, some extra cheese, and Lou’s famous Buttercrust. For the thin crust we got “The Lou” — a Malnati’s original topped with a spinach mix, mushrooms and sliced roma tomatoes covered with three cheeses.
Shortly after our salad plates were cleared the pizzas arrived. Our server dished us each up the slice of our choosing then the fun began!

The deep dish is absolutely legendary. Unlike flimsy New York-style pizza or thin crust pizza, you definitely need a knife and fork to tackle this behemoth. Lou Malnati’s sausage is made from a special blend that’s exclusive to them and the flavor is unparalleled. The layers of gooey cheese, the delicious Buttercrust, spicy sausage, and delicious pepperoni made every bite seem like a little taste of Heaven.

The “Lou,” although completely different, and seemingly healthier than the deep dish option, was just as delicious. Tomato slices, spinach, and the three cheese blend along with a special garlic butter crust made this a delicious and lighter option to it’s heavyweight deep-dish counterpart.

We each tried both pizzas and couldn’t agree which was our favorite but there was no question that Lou’s serves up some of Chicago’s best pizza. Speaking of service, we had exceptional service and never had to get our own slice from the pan. The wait staff was attentive, helpful, and made sure our glasses and plates were full.

We had the opportunity to speak with the manager of the Gold Coast location who told us that two things that differentiate Lou’s from other Chicago deep-dish pizza is their tomatoes and their crust. All of Lou’s pizzas are made with fresh ingredients, the most crucial being tomatoes. The tomato sauce is so crucial to the making of a great Lou Malnati’s pizza that each year a team from Malnati’s goes to California and meets personally with the tomato growers. The finest vine ripened plum tomatoes are then blended and canned exclusively for Lou Malnati’s use.
The quality, service, price, and most importantly taste made Lou Malnati’s a stand-out and we officially give them our PPM 5-Star Rating! 
For under $70 a group of 6 of us shared a salad, 2 pizzas, and had leftovers to share with our co-workers. A great value for an exceptional Chicago deep-dish experience.
Lou Malnati’s has locations near many of PPM’s buildings and also offers delivery. The next time you have a craving for some deep-dish or thin crust, forget the national chains and go local … check out Lou Malnati’s. You will be glad you did — we were!

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