Friday, November 5, 2010

Food Faceoff: Chicago Deep Dish

As I'm sure movst of you have figured out by now, I'm in Chicago. I've been here for almost 2 weeks, and I have 2 days to go before I get to go home. I love my job, and this show has been fantastic, but I'm so ready to be home with my husband and puppy!

Luckily, Steven's job gives us lots of flexibility in this sort of situation, so he was able to fly up and spend a long weekend with me! While my hours (and exhaustion) made it difficult to do any real sight-seeing, we did have one thing on our to-do list that I just wasn't willing to give up.

Deep dish pizza.

I'm starving just thinking about it.

So we began the hunt to decide which two pizza places we'd hit up, and lucky for us, the choices stuck out loud and clear. The Locals vs. My Coworkers (I should note that people from my office tend to come to Chicago at LEAST once a year, because McCormick place is such a busy convention center).

I took a quick survey of my coworkers, and while there were a few favorites, the final choice was clear. Meet contender #1: Lou Malnati's Pizzeria

Steven asked around at the airport, on his shuttle, and around the hotel. The answer was unanimous: Gino's East. We had contender #2.


We hit up Gino's first. It has a killer reputation, and I had high expectations. The day we went wasn't busy, and we were seated quickly. The atmosphere was graffiti covered and not really my style, but still very fun.

We ordered up our pizza, and an appetizer (a deep dish necessity, since they take 30-45 minutes to cook. At Gino's we selected a simple pepperoni with extra cheese, and their garlic sticks.

The garlic sticks were ok, but lacked alot of flavor. Being the bread addict that I am, I was a bit disappointed. The service here was also hit and miss, but there's not much for the guy to do when he's waiting for your food to cook. I'd have been happier if I had seen him more than once between dropping off our appetizer and bringing our food, but you can't have everything.

Now on to the main event:

The sauce was great, the meat was flavorful, and the cheese was clearly high quality, but the crust.... well it was not great. Our crust was hard, and lacked flavor. I'm usually a pizza crust lover, and this wasn't a good one. I found myself leaving the crust on the plate and moving on.


The next day was Friday and we headed to Lou Malnati's Pizzeria.

It was busy, so we waited, and oh was it worth it. The atmosphere here was perfection. Very classic. Busy and loud, but not too loud, and very simple.

We ordered up their classic (home made sausage), but added pepperoni to it. We also ordered their Toasted Cheddar Cubes at our waiter's recommendation.

This appetizer knocked Gino's garlic sticks out of the ring. They were flavorful and different, and a perfect start to our meal.

45 minutes later it arrived. I was worried. It looked just like Gino's. Our waiter served it up, and we dug in. The sausage was light in flavor, and I actually liked it (I'm not a sausage fan), and the cheese was clearly fresh.

And the crust? Their famous buttercrust?

Perfect. Melt in your mouth, flaky, flavorful heaven. I died.

And then I came back to life so I could eat some more and die again.


The service at Lou Malnati's was better than Gino's East as was the atmosphere.  Lou's clearly won the appetizer battle, but let's be honest, this is about the pizza. Let's break it down:

Red sauce: Tie. Both had great flavor and didn't go overboard on volume. Too much sauce can make things soggy, and luckily this didn't happen at either location.

Cheese: Slight advantage to Lou's. You could taste the freshness. They bragged on the quality of their ingredients, and you can taste the difference, but with the cheese, it was close.

Toppings: Tie. We got slightly different items, and I couldn't choose between them.

Crust: Let's be honest here. You already know the answer. Gino's crust was just not good. Lou's was fantastic. There is no comparison.


Hands down Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. I wasn't sure I was a deep dish kind of girl after Gino's, but Lou Malnati's won me back over. It's all about the total package and Gino's poor crust killed it for me, while Lou's won my heart with every bite.

So what do you think? What's your favorite deep dish? Or are you a hard core New York Style kind of person?


  1. Go to a Lou's that has the Antipasto salad (not all locations do). It's worth it.

  2. I love Malnati's! Whenever I'm in Chicago I make it a point to order a deep dish pizza. I also order them online where they Fedex the pies on dry ice...delicious!