Surprisingly, with all my trips to Chicago for work over the past three years, and all the great meals that I’ve had, the one thing that had never been on my plate was deep dish pizza, authentic or otherwise. That was something that had to be remedied and the place was going to be Lou Malnati’s. According to the guys that I worked with and had far more experience with Chicago, this was the place to go…as long as it was the State Street location…because supposedly that’s the best. So after a quick workout, I met up with my co-workers, and we made our way out.
As we were standing in line we were approached by a gentleman asking how many people we had and offering a ride. Initially we declined, thinking that it would be a little cheaper just to grab a cab. But my former boss decided that we needed to take up the offer so gave the guy a few bucks and sent us on our way. Initially we thought maybe a town car or something…until we turned the car and saw the stretch H2 sitting right there. It would easily have seated 20 people comfortably, so the 6 of us had plenty of room. We settled in, the driver cranked up the music and the lights, and we made our way through the streets of Chicago. When we finally arrived at Lou Malnati’s, the suicide doors opened, and the first one out was a 50+ year old clinical scientist. There were definitely some weird looks from the patrons that were already there, a total WTF face from our boss, and giant ear-to-ear grins from all of us.
Now, you can’t expect all of your Lou Malnati’s trips to start like that. But what you can expect is some very good eats when you get settled in. We had made a reservation and pre-ordered pizzas, so it was a pretty short wait. For 8 of us, we went with 3 large pizzas (not sure pie is appropriate…that’s more New York); the classics of Sausage and Pepperoni as well as the “Lou”, a cheese and vegetable monster. I started with a slice of pepperoni and followed it up with the veggie. And believe it or not, the veggies was actually my favorite…something I never would have thought I would have said even as little as 6 months ago. But it was the freshness that just blew me away. This isn’t to say that the pepperoni didn’t have a freshness to it. I mean the tomato sauce was fantastic, obviously freshly made, and absolutely made the pizza. It made the pepperoni better than a typical pepperoni. And there was the crust that was slightly crunchy and slightly soft like a good piece of bread. But there was just something about the fresh spinach and mushrooms and sliced tomatoes smothered with tomato sauce and cheese that was almost light and just so good. I was going to stop after 2, but went with another half slice of veggie…it’s also good for me!
The whole night was great fun, starting with the limo ride and just spending time with some of the guys that will make up my new team in Cleveland, and was just made better by excellent food. I could definitely become a fan of deep dish pizza if they are all like that, though I am a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t try the sausage, but that’s ok. It just means I have something to try the next time that I’m in town.