Pizza Stop #20:
4700 Gilbert Ave
Western Springs, IL
If you’re from Chicago this place should need no introduction. Yes it’s a chain, but it’s a popular one for a reason. Over recent years they’ve expanded quite a bit and have locations all over Chicagoland which vary from carry out only to full-service restaurants.
This review is absolutely going to be biased because I’ve been eating here for years. I tried it for the first time somewhere around 2011 and have been hooked ever since. So much so that I’ve spent at least 4-5 of my birthdays at Lou Malnati’s.
Onto the pizza! This for me is the golden standard for what a deep dish should be. The delicious butter crust, the sauce, the cheese, the sausage patty that covers the entire pizza.. they all have great flavors and are layered in a perfect ratio to create an awesome pizza. Oddly this pizza even gets better as leftovers! Something about the ingredients sitting and marinating into each other just makes the slice even more flavorful. My typical go-to is the “Chicago Classic” which is sausage and extra cheese on their Buttercrust.
They also sell a thin crust pizza that my wife prefers, but personally I think the recipe is better suited for the deep dish. Don’t get me wrong.. the thin crust is also good, but when I have it, it almost feels like the healthy and not as satisfying version of the deep dish.
For a nice dining experience, my favorite location is the one in Oak Park. However if I’m eating it at home, I typically get it from Western Springs (this one is carry-out only).
With that being said, all Lou Malnati locations are NOT the same. Like most chain pizzerias, some of the them cannot seem to get it right. I’ve been to a few locations where the pizza was either undercooked, burnt or the flavor just seemed off. Western Springs and Oak Park on the other hand have always delivered a quality and consistent pizza. (I’m sure others do as well, but these are the only two I can personally vouch for).
Disclaimer: In my opinion deep dish pizza is very subjective. Most people can usually agree on what’s a good thin crust pizza, but when it comes to deep dish, opinions are usually all over the place. I’ve introduced many people to Lou Malnati’s and while the majority loved it, some just weren’t a fan.
Bonus Side Story: As previously stated, I’m a die-hard Lou’s fan. Many years ago I had a co-worker who was boasting about a deep dish pizza he loved. He never had Lou’s before but he was positive his favorite would reign supreme. Convinced he was wrong, I challenged him to a “Pizza-Off” at work. The rules were basically all of our co-workers (about 8 of them) were to try them both and give their vote. We both put in a $25 bet so winner took 50. At no surprise to me, Lou’s took the win by 2 or 3 votes! I honestly can’t remember where this other pizza was from, but I do remember it was nothing special.