When you tell people you’re going to Chicago, the first thing they usually ask is, “Which deep-dish pizza place are you going to?” Maybe my friends are foodies, or weird, but I was asked a half dozen times, easy. There appeared to be two polarizing options: Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s. Everyone I spoke to had a clear favorite, which they proceeded to push on me. So my husband and I decided to do what any logical adult would do – eat deep-dish pizza twice in a 24-hour period. We would rate the pizza, the atmosphere and the customer service, but the pizza would carry the greatest weight.
Lou Malnati’s had a local feel. There were jerseys hanging on the wall, the ceilings were low and the tables were close. I was a little confused by the wood Babe Ruth mosaic on the wall with a Yankee’s hat on and “Malnati’s” across his chest. Why was this in a purely “Chicago” restaurant? I may never know.
Giordano’s had a much more mainstream feel. They knew what they were doing with wide-open spaces that could fit in the masses. The restaurant had an old Chicago-style feel, with bright lights and high ceilings. The marquee sign is also flashier, with old-style bulbs illuminating the perimeter. You won’t accidentally walk past Giordano’s – it demands attention.
We arrived at both restaurants just before they opened at 11am and were pleased to find that they were already seating patrons. Lou Maltani’s let us know that they would take our drink order AT 11am and Giordano’s took our order as soon as we sat down. Obviously there are a million different server combinations we could have had, but I definitely think restaurants have “types”. At Lou Malnati’s we had a young college-aged guy with a dry personality, but he was relatively attentive (though I was sippin’ on ice sweat at one point). At Giordano’s we had a vibrant older lady who laughed with us and made sure I drank too much diet Pepsi (side note: most restaurants in Chicago serve Pepsi).
This is why you’re here, right? Which pizza was the best?? TELL ME, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Well, the winner, by a landslide, was Giordano’s (photo on the right)! We had Lou Malnati’s (photo on the left) on our first day in the city and Giordano’s on our second, and after the first bite of G’s, my husband looked at me with love in his eyes and said, “This…is…so…good…”
Now let’s dissect the “why.” We ordered a small pizza (which service 1-2 people) at both restaurants, getting His & Hers toppings on each side. LM had a dismal selection of toppings! Few veggie selections and an ever slimmer meat selection (what, no chicken?), so right away we were put-off. Also, when the pizza arrived it was not very deep (I mean, it IS the name…). The toppings appeared to only be scattered around the top (very much blurring the lines between His & Hers toppings) and the cheese was just, cheese. Bland. Completely underwhelming. It didn’t help that it was overcooked.
On to Giordano’s (day 2). First off, we immediately noticed how many more topping choices Giordano’s had (and good choices). The pizza was DEEP and the ingredients were better mixed-in and they kept our toppings separate, but equal, the way God intended toppings to be. And the cheese…oh goodness, the cheese. It almost melted in our mouths. When you’re getting a deep-dish pizza, the cheese is very important because it makes up so much of the ratio.
Obviously this is just the opinion of a married couple visiting the big city on their anniversary. Perhaps LM’s had a new person in the kitchen! I wouldn’t completely write-off Lou Malnati’s, but don’t leave Chicago without trying Giordano’s.