I have never said that I didn’t like Chicago Style pizza. As a matter of fact, I do quite like it. It’s just that it is so different from the New York Style pizza that I was born and raised on. I’m guess I’m OK with calling them both pizza since both use the same exact ingredients. But let’s stop trying to compare the two and learn to love and accept each for what they are. It’s like comparing pitchers with hitters in baseball and apples to oranges. I declare this unnecessary war to be over!
That said, I made my first trip to the Deep-Dish City in quite a while and set out to revisit the other side of pizza. Over the years, I had been to most of the famous places like Gino’s and Giordano’s, but never to the one that now seems to get the most praise from the former Midwesterners in my circle, Lou Malnati’s Pizza. I must however confess that until now, whenever someone mentioned this place, I thought they were saying “Loominati’s” and not some guy’s name.
Around since the 70’s, this family-owned institution now sports 57 locations in Chicagoland plus a handful outside of the state in Arizona, Wisconsin and Indiana. It also has become popular for folks to have a pie packed up in dry ice and mailed to them and Lou’s website can tell you how to do just that. Also, one needs to be careful since even pre-pandemic, several of the locations are takeout only.
My Chicago business adventure had me west of the city proper and Lou’s location map put their Elk Grove Village spot as my closest one. A day of travel got me and my running buddy there for a late dinner and we found the classic stand-alone roadside building to be less than half full. After a warm Midwestern greeting from our hostess, we were at our table ordering away inside the cozy room with an old traditional and timeless feel. While not the original Lou’s, the place was a bit old and crusty, just the way I like my pizza places to be.
We started healthy with a chicken Caesar salad that was quite good and followed with the small deep-dish ($11.95) which was labeled as being for two. When it came to our table in the pan in which it was likely cooked, I was a bit surprised as to how small it was. I guess my recollection had deep-dish pies being much thicker and this was only couple of inches thick. Upon delivery, our hostess used a serving knife to place a slice upon each of our plates.
I sacrilegiously felt the need to start off with a fork, but once I got past the point of the triangle, it was all hands for me. And I really loved it! It was just fantastic, and I couldn’t imagine that I would find a better deep-dish pie than what I was eating. I found both the thick cheese and light tomato sauce on top to be tasty indeed. Their noteworthy buttery crust on the bottom was just as delightful. I was thankful that my buddy only wanted one slice and I happily ate the other three!
Now, just like I would never choose the Cubs over my beloved Yankees, don’t be afraid that I’m gonna be changing my pizza allegiance or anything. But I was so glad I took the plunge at Lou’s and I hope to do it again someday. It was a truly delicious dining experience!
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****Near Perfection
Lou Malnati’s Pizza
1050 E. Higgins Road
Elk Grove Village, IL