Lou Malnatis Chicago Restaurant Review
Among the many iconic Chicago-ian dishes, the most famous is likely the Deep Dish Pizza- a cheesy, meaty, saucy dish that gives meaning to the term “pizza pie”. I desperately wanted to experience the monster of the pizza, and after a good bit of research on where the best place was to get it, I settled on Lou Malnatis.
Lou was an actual person, who started making deep dish pies back in the 40s, but it wasn’t until 1971 when he supposedly opened up his first Chicago pizzeria. Since then, the LM name has expanded to 34 locations, with hundreds of staff, many of which have been with the company for years.
We were hoping to grab a quick pizza before heading to the water for the Architectural boat tour, but unfortunately “quick” and “deep dish” are not exactly harmonious terms. So, we took a 30 minute breather in the dining room as we waited for our pie. The location we visited is pretty damn big- there is a large bar inside, a massive dining room, an outdoor patio, and two solarium-type rooms that open up to the outside, while still being covered with a roof. It’s clean enough in there, but I found it a little dingy. It’s possible that maybe things brighten up a little at prime time dinner hour when the place is packed and game is on. Regardless, this is definitely a place more suited to bringing a family or a group of friends- probably not date worthy (unless you’ve been dating for a while, and then you know, anything goes, really.)
Service was friendly and attentive. While there wasn’t much that could be offered to us as we waited for our pizza to cook, the server was very up front about the wait time, and made sure to refill our fountain drinks regularly to keep us amused.
Speaking of drinks, LM offers beer, wine, martinis and specialty cocktails. Not particularly interested in getting liquored up before heading onto a 90 minute boat ride in the sun, we stuck to the unlimited iced teas.
Like the extensive drink menu, the food at LM goes beyond my expectations. In addition to your pizza, you can tack on appetizers like garlic bread, or chicken wings, Italians soups, pasta, sandwiches, and of course dessert. You can also order your pizza deep dish, or thin crust, and even opt for gluten free crust or low fat cheese. We were interested in sticking with the classic so went with:
9” Small Lou Malnatis Chicago Classic (Lean Sausage, Extra Cheese, Vine-Ripened Tomato Sauce on Buttercrust)
So? So?! Well, it was enjoyable, but I was disappointed to say the least. I loved the bright fresh chunks of tomatoes, and the abundance of stringy, pully cheese, and even the large clumps of sausage going on. But despite all the fatty flavours packed into the pie, the whole thing was surprisingly bland. More disappointing for me, however, was the crust, which was both stale and hard to eat. It reminded me a bit of a Ritz cracker that had been sitting on a party platter beside some raw vegetables and cheese over night. Not so addictive anymore. Maybe it was my expectations were set too high and I misunderstood what DD Pizza would taste like. But I just was expecting more.
Having said that, the prices at LM are pretty fair- $24 including tax and tip got us drinks and a small pizza that we only ate half of (we gave the other half to someone on the street). I would try a deep dish pizza again on a subsequent Chicago trip, but next time from somewhere else. I may have just ordered wrong, or have personal preferences that would be better satisfied somewhere else. So foodies, any suggestions on where I may be able to change my newly formed opinion on deep dish pie?