Lou Malnati’s–Chicago, Illinois

On Sunday, after church, I was hungry. My friend and I could not agree on where to eat lunch in Grand Rapids. I took a day trip to Plymouth, MI for work on Saturday. Other than that incident, I can not explain why I suggested going to Chicago for pizza. I was starving! Chicago is a 3-hour drive away and I am quite the grumpy Gus when I am hungry. We stopped off at the gas station to fill up and I bought a roll of Sweetarts to suppress my hunger.

I heard about Lou Malnati’s from my co-worker who is originally from Chicago. Despite his impaired judgment regarding baseball teams, (he’s a Cubs fan and I am a Cardinals fan since I was raised in St. Louis) I took his restaurant suggestion to heart and drove from Grand Rapids, MI to Chicago, IL for pizza. Will I get to insult his palate as much as I rag on his choice of baseball teams? Here is my review.

Lou Malnati’s is a Chicago-chain pizzeria. I went to the River North location on North Wells. The atmosphere is like a sports bar. I started with lightly fried calamari for an appetizer while waiting for my sausage and garlic deep dish pizza. The calamari fritta was cooked to perfection. Squid can be cooked until it’s tough and inedible or too fried to be recognizable. There was an even balance between squid and outer coating yet I found the tangy cocktail sauce was more spicy than most cocktail sauces. The calamari was also served with a lemon that I squeezed over to give it a freshness. A simple squeeze of lemon left a better flavor than the cocktail sauce.

Thirty minutes after ordering, the deep dish sausage and garlic pizza arrived. Like a proper Chicago-style pizza, I ate with my fork and knife. The garlic wafted through the air signaling its arrival  The crust was cooked to a chewy yet firm texture. The dough was melt-in-your-mouth good; I could not tell where the smooth cheese and crust started and stopped. The chunks of garlic were large enough to savor but do not let that prevent you from ordering garlic on your pizza, even if you’re on a date. It is a great pairing with the sausage and mozzarella. The combination of ingredients were combined in the appropriate proportions. There wasn’t too much cheese or too much tomato sauce.

If you’re ever in Chicago, even if it’s just to get some pizza, check out Lou Malnati’s.

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