Chicago is known just as much for its deep dish pizza as for its skyscrapers and shopping. Unfortunately, many delicious pizza joints get ignored in favor of the heavyweight giant of the deep dish world: Giordano’s.
Although the pizza may be good, Giordano’s isn’t the only place to get great deep dish pizza – far from it. Don’t forget about Lou Malnati’s, conveniently located at the corner of Sherman and University. But does Lou Malnati’s deep dish measure up to pizza giant Giordano’s? I’m here to give Lou Malnati’s a fair chance.
Dishes that are deep
Whoever Misters Giordano and Lou Malnati were, they had different ideas about how to make a good deep dish pizza. At Lou Malnati’s, I ordered the classic pepperoni deep dish, and at the waiter’s recommendation, a Roma tomato and spinach combination stuffed pizza. Other topping choices include sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, olives, garlic, anchovies and hot giardiniera. Whereas a single Giordano’s slice easily serves as an entire meal, Lou’s slightly shallower pie provides a lighter choice. The crust was more reminiscent of chewy shallow-dish pizza crust, as opposed to Giordano’s crustier, drier edging. The result was a tender, un-crunchy slice that actually left room for seconds.
Lou’s sauce tasted lighter, preserving more of the fresh tomato flavor than Giordano’s, whose sauce is typically thick and hearty.
So which deep dish pizza is better? There’s no clear winner. If you’re hungry enough to eat a herd of cattle, go with your deep dish first instinct — Giordano’s. But if you’d rather have a more refined, lighter meal, give Lou Malnati’s a shot.
Both restaurants have similar choices in sandwiches and pasta. Lou Malnati’s menu offers a respectable range of soups, salads, appetizers and thin crust pizzas, sticking to traditional Italian-inspired dishes like bruschetta, garlic bread and minestrone soup. Giordano’s, on the other hand, sports a wider selection populated with mainstream appetizers such as fried calamari, chicken wings and fried shrimp.
As far as desserts go, Lou Malnati’s takes the cake with their “Cookie Pizza,” which is essentially a personal-sized hot cookie smothered in ice cream and whipped cream. Lowbrow though it may sound, Giordano’s fancy tiramisu and cannoli don’t elicit the same “mmm” as the Cookie Pizza.
The attention to detail that Lou Malnati’s puts into their food also shows in their service. The deep dish pizza came out in about 30 minutes, in comparison to Giordano’s typical 45 minute wait. The hostess and waiters were friendly and attentive, even fulfilling my request for four maraschino cherries on my Cookie Pizza instead of just one.
The next time you’re hankering for some deep dish, don’t jump the gun and order Giordano’s. For a classier, more traditional Italian stuffed pizza, give Lou a chance – you won’t regret it.