For a new Chicago sports star, there’s one question that’s always asked in their introductory press conference:
“Hot dog or deep dish?” They asked Chicago Blackhawks’ 2023 #1 pick Conor Bedard.
“Probably the pizza,” Bedard told YahooSports. “I think I hear a lot about the deep dish here, so I’m excited to give that a try.”
I rarely recommend multiple-unit restaurants of any kind, always feeling that Mom-and-Pop restaurants are a better representation of our city.
But Lou Malnati’s is an exception, because Lou was a real Chicago person, and ever since I tried the pizza while going out to lunch with my girlfriends on my first job, Lou’s family has kept my family happy with their buttery, crunchy, cornmeal crust, flavorful, original combinations, and most importantly, attentive service. Its original spot in Lincolnwood served as the locale for one of my “big” birthday parties, and their party packages fed and watered nearly 50 people, ages three to 80!
As their website notes, Lou Malnati’s is considered the oldest family name in Chicago pizza. Lou Malnati got his start in the 1940’s working in Chicago’s first deep dish pizzeria. He was the son of Rudy Malnati, who was instrumental in developing the recipe for Chicago-style pizza. In the 1950s, they co-managed Pizzeria Uno. As the website, says, he took his pizza expertise to Lincolnwood, a northern suburb of Chicago, where he and his wife Jean opened the first Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria on March 17, 1971.
“Lou was known for his fun-loving character as well as making Chicago’s best pizza,” says the website. “Lou always thought it was funny that an Italian should open a pizzeria in a Jewish neighborhood on an Irish holiday, but that was just Lou’s style.”
Today, they’re still a family-owned business, 52 years later.
The Malnatis were innovators in business as well, pioneering the concept of sending pizzas nationwide through its Tastes of Chicagoshipping business. Mr Bedard might be well-advised to try their Garrett’s Popcorn and Pizza Combo, in a Chicago Blackhawks tin. And maybe, send one to his family in Vancouver, British Columbia!
If you’re new to Lou’s, I recommend his namesake pizza, The Lou. Imagine this…a spinach mix (enhanced with garlic, basil & onion), mushrooms and sliced Roma tomatoes, covered with three cheeses, on a garlic Buttercrust™. Or, Deep Dish Malnati Chicago Classic,™ made with Lou’s lean sausage, extra mozzarella cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce on Buttercrust™, which is one of my brother’s favorites. My mother swears by their Thin Crust Spinach, with vine-ripened tomato sauce, topped with spinach mix (enhanced with garlic, basil & onion) and mozzarella cheese.
For those who’d rather have pasta, Lou Malnati’s comes through with Penne Ala Malnati, which pairs cream and Romano cheese, folded into meat sauce, then topped with baked mozzarella. Their Lasagna has layers of spinach and three cheeses topped with your choice of meat or marinara sauce.
Paired with a Malnati Salad, it’s a meal fit for a training table for any Chicago athlete. The Malnati Salad boasts of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, mushrooms, Volpi salami bits and gorgonzola cheese with sweet vinaigrette and romano cheese.
But leave room for Malnati’s Chocolate Obsession, a decadent melange featuring luscious layers of thin brownie, fluffy mascarpone chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache. Or their Tiramisu, with ladyfinger cookies soaked in espresso, layered with mascarpone cheese and topped with cocoa powder.
Lou Malnati’s has 59 locations, and there’s one near you in virtually every Chicago neighborhood. For locations, reservations, and information,click here.
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago