Lou Malnati's




We're diving deep into the cheesy, saucy, and utterly iconic world of Chicago's best pizza. Lou Malnati's, with its rich history and secret recipes, has been satisfying Windy City cravings since 1971, and I'm about to take you on a delectable journey through this culinary gem. Hungry yet?

Hey therePizza aficionados! I've got a savory slice of Chicago history to share with you. When it comes to deep-dish pizza, there's one name that's been making waves in the Windy City since the 1970s: Lou Malnati's. Let's dig into this iconic pizzeria's roots, the secrets of their mouthwatering pies, and where you can savor them in the vibrant neighborhoods of Chicago.

The Malnati Legacy: A Slice of Chicago History

Lou Malnati's Lawndale Opening Day

Lou Malnati's isn't just a pizza joint; it's a living legend in Chicago's culinary scene. The story begins with the man himself, Lou Malnati, who started as a pizza pioneer in the 1940s. After working at Chicago's first deep-dish pizzeria, he decided to take the city's pizza scene by storm.

On March 17, 1971, the very first Lou Malnati's Pizzeria opened its doors in Lincolnwood, a northern suburb of Chicago. Lou's passion for pizza, fun-loving character, and dedication to quality made his creations truly exceptional. Despite a comical twist of fate—a pizzeria in a Jewish neighborhood on St. Patrick's Day (Lou didn't mind a mix of cultures!)—Loyal patrons eagerly lined the streets on opening day, craving a taste of his legendary deep-dish creations.

As the reputation of Lou Malnati's soared, another location found its home in Elk Grove Village, near O'Hare Airport. This restaurant faced a tough beginning, with major road construction wreaking havoc for 14 months. At one point, even the accountants advised Lou to close its doors, but he refused. He persevered, and once the construction ended, people flocked to Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in Elk Grove, celebrating the delicious victory.

In 1978, Lou Malnati tragically succumbed to cancer, leaving his family and the world to carry on his pizza legacy. His oldest son, Marc, and later his younger brother, Rick, joined the family business. The torch was passed, and the commitment to quality and consistency remained.

The Secret Ingredients of Perfection

The key to Lou Malnati's success? A deep-rooted commitment to quality. Each Lou Malnati's pizza is handcrafted from scratch, using only the finest and freshest ingredients. It all starts with the vine-ripened tomatoes hand-selected in California each year to ensure the perfect sweet and tangy taste. The exclusive sausage blend, seasoned to perfection, gives the pizza that distinct flavor.

The family's secret recipe for the flaky, buttery crust has been cherished and passed down through the generations, a true culinary treasure. You'll know with every bite that each pizza is crafted with care and meticulous attention to detail.

An Artful Slice of Chicago

Now, let's talk about the star of the show—the pizza. Lou Malnati's deep-dish pizza is the heartiest and most iconic in Chicago. Unlike traditional thin-crust pizza, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza has a rather thin, sturdy crust that complements the delicious toppings perfectly. The dough is patted out by hand, rising high on the sides of a seasoned deep-dish pizza pan.

But here's the twist: The order of ingredients in a Chicago-style pizza is "backwards" compared to a thin-crust pizza. Slices of mozzarella cheese are placed directly on the dough, followed by additional ingredients like mushrooms, onions, and sausage. The pizza is then topped with a fresh tomato sauce made with whole chunks of pear and plum tomatoes and finished with a sprinkling of cheese and spices.

What sets Lou Malnati's deep-dish pizza apart is their dedication to preserving the original Chicago-style deep dish pizza recipe crafted by Grandpa Malnati in 1943. It's a recipe that has stood the test of time and continues to define what truly excellent pizza tastes like.

Ingredients That Make You Salivate

  • Tomatoes: Each year, a team from Malnati's goes to California to meet personally with tomato growers. The finest vine-ripened plum tomatoes are blended and canned exclusively for Lou Malnati's use. The effort is well worth it when it comes to continuing the tradition as the best deep dish pizzeria in Chicago.
  • Cheese: Lou Malnati's maintains long-term relationships with vendors, sourcing mozzarella cheese from the same Wisconsin dairy farm for over 40 years. The unique flavor and texture of their cheese is vital to the Lou Malnati's pizza recipe.
  • Dough: The secret recipe for the flaky, buttery crust has been passed down through generations and is unmatched in flavor and taste.

Finding the Best Slice in Chicago

So, where can you savor the best pizza in Chicago? Lou Malnati's has you covered from North Side to South Loop, and everywhere in between! Here's a quick guide to help you navigate your Lou Malnati's pizza experience:

North Side

If you find yourself on Chicago's North Side, you're in for a treat. Check out Lou Malnati's locations in Lincoln Square/North Center, Lincoln Park, Old Irving/Six Corners, and Bucktown/Wicker Park.


For those exploring the heart of Chicago, you're not far from Lou Malnati's locations on Michigan Avenue, in River North, and in the Gold Coast.

South Loop

If you're heading to the "South Loop," be sure to visit the Lou Malnati's location right in the South Loop.

West Loop

The West Loop is a food lover's paradise. While you're there, stop by the Lou Malnati's location in the West Loop.

In Chicago, pizza is more than just a dish; it's a way of life. And at Lou Malnati's, that way of life has been perfected over the course of five decades.

So, if you're ever in the Windy City and craving a slice of heaven, make your way to Lou Malnati's. They've been serving up tradition, history, and the best pizza in town since 1971. Get ready to experience the slice of Chicago's culinary heritage, one bite at a time. Bon appétit! 🍕🏙️🌟


Want More? My Tips & Tricks!