Good ol’ Chicago-style pizza: some hate it (New Yorkers); some love it (everyone else). There are many different kinds of Chicago-style pizza, but all have one thing in common: you’re not going to get your pizza in less than 30 minutes. The big question: is it worth the wait?
Yes, I say, yes, yes, yes. Chicago pizza has a special kind of thick, flaky, gooey magic no matter where you eat it. I tried two different pies from Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s, both respected Chicago chains.
Giordano’s was just north of Millennium park, south of the Chicago River. It was a quintessential family pizza place, with an atmosphere not unlike Pizzeria Uno (we have those in Orlando, so I am familiar). This pie was what they call in Chicago a “stuffed pie,” where a thick bottom crust is stacked with cheese and another thin layer of crust, topped with sauce. There was a lot of sauce, and the crust was extra thick and crunchy, the whole pie served in a deep dish just like every other Chicago-style pizza. The cheese was totally cooked, yet didn’t ooze out onto the plate and become messy. It was very easy to attack with my utensils (because all Chicago pizza has to be eaten with a fork and knife)- a big plus.
Lou Malnati’s had a location a few blocks from my hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Inside it didn’t feel much like a pizza parlor at all- more like a trendy restaurant with mismatched furniture. There was a huge menu, but of course I was only interested in one thing. My 10 inch cheese pie came in an iconic deep metal dish, where each piece is as big as your hand. This was classic deep dish pizza, with a thick crust layered with cheese and sauce, in that order. This gives the cheese a perfect balance between soft and melted, and it just oozes out from between the sauce and the crust. The sauce at Lou Malnati’s was extra chunky and flavorful. The crust was buttery, crispy, and flaky, and the cheese was rich and greasy (just perfectly so), both complemented by the sharp tang of the sauce. Needless to say, I ate as much as I could.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter where in Chicago you go for pizza- as long as you go to more than one place. For me, Lou Malnati’s took the cake (or pie, I should say) for its superior crust and sauce. And who cares if it takes 45 minutes to get your meal? Chicago pizza deserves to be made into an experience.