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Lou Malnati's - Help Me Decide

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  • SKing Feb 9, 2007 07:00 AM

I don't trust the "foodies" at work seeing as how the biggest fan of Lou Malnati's only orders Cashew Chicken from whatever Thai, Chinese, or remotely Asian eatery (I.E. her taste is boring). I asked her what the pizza was like, and she said you can't compare it to anything. I asked her what the crust, the cheese, and the sauce were like and she said, "I don't know."

I have to say, as much as I try, the deep dish pizza isn't my thing so I'm heavily biased. How are their thin crusts?

My key factors are crust, sauce, and cheese. I like bread-like crusts versus crumb-like crusts (I really dislike Gino's East's crust). I like well-seasoned sauces versus sweet/simple sauces. Who would you compare Lou Malnati's to?

From what I've read, it sounds like it's the quintessential Chicago deep dish, but people say that about Giordano's and I find Giordano's to be of lesser quality to Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder on Clark street.

The pizza I have liked in Chicago include Bacci's, Oggi Trattoria, Pizza Metro, and Piece.

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  1. They serve thin crust pizza at Lou Malnati's? Who knew? ;)

    Their pan pizza (thick crust) is similar to Gino's (and the original Uno's and Due), with a crunchy texture; I think this is what you refer to as "crumb like" rather than "bread like". (Stuffed pizza like at Giordano's is very different, with the crunch confined to the outer edge of the pizza. FWIW, I love both kinds, the crunchy pan pizza and the stuffed pizza.) The sauce at Malnati's is tasty but not overpowering and strikes a nice balance with the crust. I have absolutely no idea what their thin crust pizza is like.

    Why not go to Malnati's with other folks, and order the thin crust AND the pan pizza? That way, you could try both kinds, and decide for yourself.

    10 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      They're ordering in, so if you want pizza, it's evenly split between everyone and the order is by consensus. They seem to be leaning towards a very large sausage/cheese deep dish.

      I'm trying to figure out if I want to go in with them or just get Potbelly's.

      I'm also consistently disappointed with my co-workers taste in food.

      1. re: SKing

        In a way it sounds like you won't like whatever your co-workers order so I would go with Potbelly's. I personally like Lou Malnati's butter crust. It's has a great flavor to it and same with the sauce. It's a complete 180 from Giordano's style (which is good if you're looking for that kind of style). You're from New York though so you're not gonna like their thin crust either as it is nothing like an east coast thin (which Piece, etc seems to strive to emulate).

        1. re: lbs

          Is their thin crust more like Chicago's on Sheffield? I do like varying types of thin crust like the cracker style in St. Louis.

          That I can handle, but then my concern is whether the sauce or cheese is disappointing like I had something from D'agastino's and the sauce taste like ketchup since it's so sugary.

          1. re: SKing

            yes, their thin crust is more like Chicago's Pizza. And good grief man, no, no, no! Lou's sauce/cheese/crust is miles away from D'Agastiono's. And for the better. I do think you should give Lou's thick and thin a chance. But I wish you could try it for the first time in house so to speak.

            1. re: lbs

              I saw from your other posts that you dig a lot of the good Andersonville spots. Someone told me about a pizza place up around there that's really good... Michael's maybe. Nobody's ever in there and once in a while you see a fleet of black luxury sedans out front. Have you ever heard or do you know about it?

              PS. When is Sunshine Cafe coming back? :(

              1. re: SKing

                Hmmm.... never heard of a secret pizza place. (actually that's ringing a faint bell but I can't remember if it's fact or fiction. And thank you cause now that's going to be bugging me :) ) As for Sunshine, I hope soon! With weather like this, I crave, crave, CRAVE their udon and theIr makerkel dish and their eel dishes. At least it didn't look abandoned last time I walked past it a couple of weeks ago.

                1. re: lbs

                  My friend had heard a rumor that they moved back to Japan, which I started to suspect a month or so ago. I do know that last year, they were closed for a month because of a death in the family. Maybe it's related. Everyone working there was related.

                  I've been getting a substitute udon downtown at this place, Tokyo Lunchbox, but it's just not the same. And that mackarel and eel is just haunting me.

                  I wish we had more Japanese-style noodle houses here in Chicago.

                  Well, let me know if you figure out the secret pizza place (I'm pretty sure it's either Clark or Ashland around Foster), or another noodle house.

                2. re: SKing

                  Michael's? Are you sure you're not thinking of Calo?

                  Owner of Sunshine is presently in Japan. But the mail is getting picked up and the plants are getting watered... so perhaps there's hope.

                  1. re: bryan

                    Nope. Definitely not Calo's. From what my friend described, it's a sketchy pizza joint that has irregular hours and occasionally a ton of black luxury sedans out front. Calo's does have decent pizza, but hardly mistakable for anything but a mid-level Italian restaurant.

                    1. re: SKing

                      Maybe Konack's next to the Hopleaf? But I have had their pizza and it's not good. Did you like Lou's or did you go to Potbelly's?

      2. Yes, I'll admit it... we often get thin crust at Lou's. I know, we'll have to relinquish our "born and bred in Chicago card."

        My husband is a vegetarian but we have some confirmed meat lovers in the family, so we order a deep dish cheese and a thin crust with sausage. I can't stand the deep dish sausage (way too much) but the thin crust is good and the sausage is the little pieces of it - not the sheet that you get in the deep dish.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tktchr

          Are you aware that you can ask for chunks of sausage on the deep dish, rather than the sheet of sausage? Mmmmm, sheet of sausage.

          1. re: bryan

            I didn't know this! My husband loves the DD Sausage sheet pizza - UGH. I will request that - THANK YOU for saving my friday night! I love "The Lou" personally

        2. Pizzano's. Best thin crust chicago style pizza.... ie. square cut with tons of cheese. Lou Malnatis brother. he only has 3 locations and mantains that small place feel and is always overlooked in chicago pizza reviews (probably cus the thick is not better than lous etc) The deep dish doesnt compare to lous, but the thin crust is perfection. At the downtown location, the have a Marks special, which is fresh mozz, basil and garlic. The crust is perfectly crip, not soggy. Love it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Redfield

            Pizzano's? Yes, absolutely the best thin pizza in town. Correct, the guy was Malnatis' brother. You MUST MUST order the "butter" crust though. It just crunches. I can't explain it, reminds me a lot of a good cheesecake crust (but not graham cracker - think with butter and olive oil) And the sausage?? It is homemade and you can tell. To die for. When my parents visted they claimed this was the best thin crust the ever had. I concur. Man, I want some now!!!!

          2. Sounds like you should just try it. Its one of chicago's best pizza places and just one meal. If yoiu like it, like so many other people do, then it could become a go to spot for you.

            1. I'm firmly in the NY-style camp, but Lou Malnati's is one of my default order-in's for their take on deep dish. I've tried the thin crust and it just doesn't do it for me(maybe it doesn't travel well). My once-in-a-blue moon delivery order reads: deep dish pepperoni, house salad with house vinagrette, and the combo appetizer plate(the deepfried zucchini is among my absolute favorites...unfortunately, they have tendency to undercook their mozzarella sticks and cheddar cubes).

              2 Replies
              1. re: aelph

                TLou's ---- he salad dressings is quite good if you like the sweet, onion tang - I do. You can buy it from them, too if you really like it. I also like some appetizer they have with the cheese & spinach inside the pizza dough (like a calzone?). You could just order that with a salad and call it good!

                1. re: aelph

                  Why not just ask to have the cheese sticks well-done?

                2. IMO Lou Malnatis has nice fresh ingredients, but their deep dish pies tend to be a bit on the DRY side... the way to overcome this is to make sure you order both extra sauce and extra cheese....

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    Mike, I agree. It can be a little dry. I usually order extra tomatoes when I'm there. The problem is that it doesn't hold well. It always gets soggy. I guess that's why I prefer to eat it there, rather than at home.

                    1. re: bryan

                      Definitely eat it there.

                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        They do a huge delivery business and I've certainly never had a problem pie. I also don't find the pizza "dry" at all; in fact I'm a li'l confused by what you mean...dry as compared to which other deep dish? LM's is pretty different than the typical Chicago deep dish...I think it has just the right amount of cheese and tomatoes. Though...I suppose "extra" cheese is never a bad thing.

                        1. re: aelph

                          Are you ordering the pan or the thin? The pan can get a little dry at the restaurant. Not being within the delivery area, it's hard to compare. But if it works for you, that's great.