Classic deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago
My pops loves deep dish pizza. When I was seven or eight, he drove my mama and me for what seemed like a very long car ride to eat at Uno’s Pizzeria. My parents lived in Chicago before I was born. There are pictures in old family albums of my mama standing knee-deep in snow, wrapped in a pink scarf and moss green coat, a small smile etched painfully on her half frozen face. I wonder if it was from their time in Chicago when my pops’s affinity for the dish began.
This wasn’t my first time to Lou Malnati’s—the first time was a few years back when I was in Chicago for a writers’ conference. I’d dined there with some friends for dinner, and it was a packed house. I remember waiting a while to get seated and then waiting a while longer to get our orders on the table. I figured, though, something as thickly layered as deep dish pizza would take a while to bake in the oven.
This second time to Lou Malnati’s was for lunch, and there was fortunately no wait. I realized, however, that after you order, you should allot another 30 minutes for the food to arrive. We tried two different kinds of crust: the classic pan crust (aka butter crust) and the thin crust. THey’re both good in their unique ways, but I prefer the pan crust for its extreme butteriness.
I remember during my season of MasterChef when there was a heated debate about pizza. David Martinez (whom we affectionately dubbed D-Mar) was from Chicago and argued that Chicago pizza was delicious. Frank, the Italian Long Islander (who introduced me to Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn), argued that in no way was that thing a pizza. “A casserole, maybe,” he’d said, “but not a pizza.”
I myself am a thin crust New York style gal, but I must admit, Lou Malnati’s is damn delicious (if you’re open to getting heartburn afterwards). After taking a few bites, I realized this was how pan crust from Pizza Hut was supposed to taste! Pizza Hut’s supreme pan pizza was a cornerstone of my childhood, and Lou Malnati’s opened my eyes, per se, to the gold standard of pan crust pizzas.
There are a few deep dish pizza joints around Chicago with loyal followers. Who makes your favorite Chicago-style deep dish pizza?