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NC family coming to visit. Tell me about Lou Manalti's pizza, please.

Will be visiting from after Christmas till 4th of January. First visit to Chicago for our family; have seen and heard about Manalti's pizza (hope the name is spelled correctly). We think we'd like to go there.... please tell us the reasons why we should (or shouldn't, and where do you recommend if not there?).

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  1. There are two famous versions of Chicago-style pizza: (1) deep dish pizza, as served by Lou Malnati's, Uno's, and Gino's East; and (2) stuffed pizza, as served by Giordano's, Edwardo's, and Carmen's. (There are other versions, but these are the two that are most popular, that everyone here knows about.)

    What's good about deep dish pizza? It has a tasty, buttery crust, with buttery taste added from sitting on the bottom of the greased, seasoned pan. It has a crunchy texture on the outside (i.e. bottom) that adds to the flavor. It's delicious.

    What's good about stuffed pizza? Its crust is also tasty, but is more like the crust of a baked, risen bread. The two crusts (top and bottom) seal in the flavor of the cheese and other ingredients and prevent them from drying out. It, too, is delicious.

    Lou Malnati's ( www.loumalnatis.com ) is an excellent place for deep-dish Chicago pizza. So is Gino's East ( www.ginoseast.com ). The same is true for Giordano's ( www.giordanos.com ) in the stuffed pizza category. You can't go wrong at any of these places. Look on their websites to find the locations closest to where you will be. You can also find information on their websites about the pizza and about the history of the company.

    Be aware that any of these pizzas can take as much as 30-45 minutes to prepare. Order appetizers, or if you're in a rush, order your pizza ahead of time to avoid having to wait.

    1. Lou Malnati's is THE best Chicago deep-dish pizza experience for visitors. The quality of food and affordable price make this a dependable place. To avoid the long waits for tables, you can carry-out and serve your guests at home. The only problem that I have with one of their vegetarian combos is the addition of Cheddar cheese....avoid it.

      1. Personally, I prefer Lou's to almost all of the other "Chicago style" places, whether deep dish or stuffed. My problem with other places I've been is that the sauces are so watery that the minute you've cut into the pizza, the liquid all goes to the bottom of the pan, soaking the crust. Lou's uses a thicker sauce that stays on top of the pizza more. I also think it just has more flavor. I grew up eating Due's, but as they've gone more touristy, I have stopped liking it so much and now find Lou's to be the best and most consistent.

        Just make sure you ask for it WELL DONE. They will more often than not take the pizza out too early, imo. I like the plain cheese, green pepper and onion, or garlic the best. MMMMMMMMmmm.

        4 Replies
        1. re: annimal

          Liquid? WHAT liquid? I'm a big fan of Giordano's stuffed pizza (although I also like Malnati's and Gino's), and I have no idea what liquid you're talking about. The really good places like Giordano's, Malnati's, and Gino's, don't have watery sauces.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            I don't know, every time I've had Giordano's, or Gino's for that matter, it's become a soggy liquidy mess at the first cut. I just had Giordano's a month ago and it was definitely like that. Maybe the ones you go to are just better, but I like Lou's.

            1. re: annimal

              Yeah - I completely agree on the liquid. That kind of pizza is good if you are craving it, but it is awfully liquidy especially once you get the second slice out. It can make for some soggy not so good leftovers.

              1. re: lbs

                I had Giordano's yesterday for the first time and I didn't at all think it was liquidy. I did think the crust was too doughy but there was a overly geneous amount of cheese and a light coating of sauce. I brought home half and it has stayed solid. Won't have it again though, my local place makes the best cracker thin crust but we were out shopping and Giordano's seemed the right idea based on what else was availible.

        2. It's okay. Be sure to order with extra sauce AND extra cheese because I find it a bit on the dry side. But the ingredients are plentiful and very good quality.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chicago Mike

            I would NOT recommend extra sauce OR extra cheese (unless that's the way you like your pizza). It's fine just the way it is...

          2. Personally, I think Lou's is one of the best, if not the best, pizza there is. All the other's mentioned are good also, though I'm not as much a fan of Giordano's (I do eat it and enjoy it, just not as much as Lou's). The number one thing I've also loved about Lou's is the way they do their sausage. It's like they roll it out into a large thin slab, then just lay it on the pizza. So, every slice has a layer of sausage on it. It's just awesome!! :)

            1. I was only there once on a trip to Chicago and ordered pizza with the butter crust and salad with lemon dressing. I absolutely loved it and have not stopped thinking about it. Does that make me an obsessive chowhound? Anyway, we have nothing like it around here and I would kill for some today. I can't fairly compare it to any other Chicago pizza though because Lou's is all I've had.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Velma

                Are there any Uno's in your area? I am not saying that Uno's is as good as Lou Malnati's, and I am not saying that the franchised locations of Uno's are as good as the original - both questions are irrelevant to this topic - but if I lived somewhere else and had a hankering for Chicago-style deep dish pizza, that's where I would go. http://www.unos.com

                As another option, you can have frozen Lou Malnati's pizza (and other Chicago foods) shipped anywhere in the country. Order from the http://www.tastesofchicago.com website.

              2. We don't have Uno's in my city either. Maybe in St Louis which is 2 hours away...I will check it out next time we are there. We have some outstanding pizza here in Columbia but it is more of the thin crust kind and I happen to crave the deep dish variety which leaves me out in the cold. I'll check out the mail order option-thanks for the tip!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Velma

                  Velma, I would avoid Uno's Pizza if it's out-of-state. During my ten year sojourn in Cincinnati and Columbus, OH, I tried to satisfy my deep-dish craving at an Uno's franchise, but it left a bad-taste, literally. Their sausage pizza consisted of tiny, greasy meatballs over the top. Yukkkk! I was told that Malnati's doesn't open franchises elsewhere because it's too costly to import components from the Chgo-area.

                  There is a Chicagoan in Columbus who owns a hotdog/pizza place, Wholly Joe's, and he either drives/flies into Chgo to get the necessary components. He's doing quite well.

                  1. re: Mar

                    The franchised Uno's has very little in common with the original on Wabash (or with Due's for that matter). Avoid.

                2. Skip the tourist traps and head where the locals go. Try Pequod's on Webster and Clybourn.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cheapertrick

                    Most locals go to Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, and Gino's East, and eat the best pizza in town right alongside the tourists...

                    1. re: cheapertrick

                      Pequod's is one of the best. They have a fantastic sausage topping that crisps up around the edges for amazing flavor.

                      1. re: Markauf

                        I've found Pequod's to be mediocre - on a good day - and not at all representative of the best pizza Chicago has to offer. The whole beauty of Chicago-style pizza - whether it's deep-dish pizza (Lou Malnati's, Gino's East) or stuffed pizza (Giordano's) - is that their crust has amazing flavor (even more so when combined with the other ingredients). That's what Pequod's lacks. I've just found it absolutely ordinary, no different from what you would find in any other city or town in the country. Personal opinion, of course.

                        Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, and Gino's East became popular among Chicagoans (and, along with Uno's and Due's, established our reputation for great pizza) because the pizza is superb. That's why each has dozens of locations around the city and suburbs. That's a big convenience; you don't have to travel to some other part of town to try it. All three chains do a good job of quality control, so you get the same terrific tasting pizza regardless of where you happen to be. That's also a reflection of the fact that locals all over the city and suburbs enjoy their pizza. (The only locations where you're likely to find a lot of tourists are the one or two downtown locations.) The existence of dozens of locations all over the city and suburbs proves that these are not "tourist traps" at all, but instead were opened so that locals all over the area can enjoy the same wonderful taste that gave us our reputation for great pizza.

                    2. I have lived in Chicago my entire life and love pizza. Lou's used to much better, it is hit and miss lately. I am referring to the one on Wells St. Giordano's and Gino's are good, but Uno and Due are so so. If you really want to try something that is really consistently good, try Bacino's at the 75 E. Wacker location. This is a little different, but excellent deep dish pizza. Stay a few days and try a few pies, and decide for yourself.

                      1. Unfortunately, due to my father-in-law's unexpected death on Dec. 27, we weren't able to make it to Chicago. We are trying to re-schedule our trip for the spring. Thank you all for the suggestions; it seems Lou's will be where we will go.
                        Until then, I guess we'll try to order and have it overnighted.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: goodeatsinadive

                          Sorry to hear about your loss.

                          If you have the pizza overnighted, please let us know how it turns out!

                        2. Anyone living outside of Chicagoland who wants this kind of pizza should definitely try having Lou's pizzas delivered. You can find the website at http://www.tastesofchicago.com/, or call them at 1-800-LOU-TO-GO (those of us living here have heard Ms. Malnati and the kids singing those commercials at Christmastime for years!). My wife and I have given pizzas by long distance delivery many times to family around the country, and although it's not the same as coming to a restaurant and eating it freshly prepared, it's a good experience.