Chicago Pizza -
We Visit Lou Malnati's

We had never had Chicago pizza. We had only been there once before as a couple, and since we only knew New York pizza lovers, we'd never heard anything good about the "casserole they call a pizza in Chicago," and didn't make it a priority then.

So we were visiting our friend Rudy Villalaz, who lives in Chicago. I mean, for us he lives in Chicago -- where he really lives is a suburb called Homer Glen, which might as well be Chicago to people who don't live there, right?

We told Rudy that we wanted to taste real Chicago pizza. He suggested Lou Malnati's. "Not Uno?" we asked. "Well," said Rudy, "we can go to Uno if you want, but it's a long drive, and to me it's not as good as Malnati's." So Lou Malnati's it was -- and as we were in Homer Glen, we went to the one in Naperville, which Rudy assured us would be fun - the Lou Malnati's in Naperville is a former firehouse.

Lou Malnati's in Naperville, IL

It was fun. The atmosphere could even be described as "rollicking." The decor was, in fact, firehouse -- with hoses, axes, firemen's hats, and ladders. It was noisy, but we could still carry on a conversation at a normal level. We liked it.

We ordered "The Lou," which has spinach, mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes covered with a blend of mozzarella, romano and cheddar cheese. Now in most places, we order pizza made as simply as possible so we can taste the basics, but there's nothing 'basic' about Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza (which needs to be written with capitals, it's so big!).

We'd seen pictures, but nothing could have prepared us for the festival of food that was placed before us. Rudy took it in stride, but this thing was -- tall. You just can't walk down the street munching on a slice of this, like you can with a Brooklyn slice. Chicago pizza requires commitment.

Fortunately, we were hungry.

The flavors were all there (we're trying to remember if Lillian - who is not a mushroom kinda gal -- picked out the mushrooms or if we ordered without) and the whole thing blended like a symphony. You could choose to focus on one taste, or let the whole thing just cover your tastebuds with harmony.

The funny thing is, we can't really remember the crust! It's so full of everything else, especially tomatoes, that the crust kinda gets lost. It's a meal, tasty and filling, not to be judged by our usual New York standards.

So we still don't know if we'd call it pizza, but it was good.

Lou Malnati's, 30 locations in and around Chicago. We vouch for the Naperville place.

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