No one in the world does pizza like Chicago. As far as Chicago deep-dish goes, there are three major players. Giordano’s, Gino’s East, and Lou Malnati’s. It’s hard to pick a favorite. They all have their qualities that make them unique. Whenever I’m pressed for an answer, I sort of stumble around and try my best not to answer the question. I like all three.
You’ve seen me write about Lou Malnati’s before. J’s mom has sent me some frozen pizza’s from Malnati’s mail order business. Other than that, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a Malnati’s pizza.
After we left US Cellular Field, we headed downtown to get some pizza. There are several Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. The original is in Lincolnwood, but there are multiple locations in the city. I didn’t choose the one closest to US Cellular. I wanted to go downtown and give my friends, and my dad, a chance to see more of the city.
The Malnati’s I chose is on South State Street at East 8th Street. After a little GPS mishap (it was trying to send us to Indiana when I knew the pizzeria was in the South Loop), we found a parking garage right next to the shop. It was about 6:30 when we opened the door to find a rather large crowd waiting. Not a good sign. My buddy found the hostess who told us it would be about two hours. We put our names in then went for a beer.
When we came back at 8:00, my buddy checked in with the hostess and she said we were next. Good timing. We waited about ten more minutes then were shown to a square table that had flaps that were extended to make a round table for six. The dining room is small. Very, very small. There can’t be no more than twenty tables in the small space. Malnati’s is famous! This is a new store. You’d think they’d make a bigger restaurant, but it’s not. I was shocked that the only dining room is the one you can see from the street.
The waitress took drink orders then asked if we had pre-ordered a pizza. We didn’t know that was an option or we would have. We put in an order for a large thin crust pepperoni and a large deep dish, butter crust pepperoni. The deep dish pizzas take about a half hour to cook so we knew we had time to drink.
The pizzas came out almost a half hour later. I wanted the deep dish. I love Malnati’s deep dish. For those of you familiar with Buddy’s in Detroit, Malnati’s is very similar. It’s a knife and fork slice with a very tender, fat heavy crust. Even though it’s a deep dish, the bottom crust is actually very thin. The sauce is a “cold sauce” which means it’s not cooked before it goes on the pizza. The toppings are inverted with cheese first then the meat and finally the sauce. I ate two and a half pieces without even really thinking about it.
I didn’t get a shot at the thin crust. My dad and one of the other guys with us polished that one off pretty quickly. I didn’t find this out until the next day, but my dad actually left hungry. I forced myself to eat the last slice of deep dish because I didn’t think anyone wanted it…turns out, he was waiting for everyone else to say they were done. Bad move on his part.
For most of the guys, it was their first time have this style of Chicago pizza. Everyone seemed to like it. I love it. I could eat Malnati’s everyday.
The bill for the two pizzas, four beers, a pop and two waters was right at sixty bucks. Even though the pizzas took so long to cook, we were still only in the restaurant less than an hour. We paid our bill and got up so someone else could have the table while we decided our next move. Even though were about eleven blocks from the Chicago River, our next move was The Billy Goat Tavern. Wings, baseball, Malnati’s, and the Billy Goat….couldn’t think of what could make a better bachelor party.