Vonnie Coleman, the 4-Star Explorer here, bringing our second installment of Chicago Food Wars which covers some of the city's most famous and prominent food rivalries. Keeping in true savory style we hit up the Chicago institution that is deep dish pizza.
Pizza, along with some of the other fine things that have sparked out of Italy along with Armani; Michelangelo's Statue of David; and a centralized water system, has immigrated into the hearts of all residents of the United States as an American tradition. Though all unite in the joy of the saucy slice-able treat its various spawning has been the cause of division among groups. For instance, there is one certain east coastal area with the state and city sharing the same name (think Ol' Blue Eyes and the Yankees for those scratching their heads) that proclaimed having the best pizza in the nation. Now I'm not sure of its historical accuracy but I could imagine a young cook from Chicago thinking of something to really show up those Big Apple brats. Second city, my ass!
It's always been a cause for debate but records show that Lou Malnati's opened its doors in 1971. Much of the credit for the original recipe goes to Lou's father, Rudy Malnati, whom Lou studied with at pioneering the revolutionary Chicago-style dish. Giordano's on the other hand wasn't opened until 1974 and much like Malnati's, was a family affair as brothers, Efren and Joseph Boglio immigrated from Argentina to open up the iconic pizzeria.
When judging which sultan of slices would reign supreme I tried to take a few things into consideration. I chose to reward a winner of the following criteria: Taste, Service/Decor, Price, and Overall Experience.
For each restaurant we ordered their version of a specialty pizza featuring spinach, mushrooms and sausage. "The Lou" from Lou Malnati's and "The Special subbed with Spinach" from Giordano's. We also ordered a thin crust pizza to act as sort of a control group for our little eatery experiment.
Taste: Deep Dish taste goes to Giordano's.
I thought it was appropriate how the two of standards of deep dish were complete opposites of one another. Lou Malnati's favored more of an old world, al fresco style.
The sauce wasn't much of one seeming more like a broth of fresh vine ripe tomatoes placed on top of the other ingredients. Giordano's on the other hand is more of what traditional Chicago food has become known for, devilish decadent delectables. Celebrating major excess in the way of thick chunky sauce, atop with pounds of meats and veggies, Giordano's iconic slice is a meal within itself.
Seriously, I had two pieces and was out for the count. Add that to the crunchy yet soft crust opposing the gritty and lacking crust of Lou Malnati's, Giordano's deep dish pizza was the easy win in my mind.
If it's any consolation, though Lou Malnati's didn't work for my deep dish expectations, I did find that the thin crust version was better than Giordano's.
Though the service did leave more to be desired (of which was reflected in her tip) I must say that I really appreciated the charm of Giordano's restaurant. I tried to have an "out of borough" experience, like if I was coming from out of town what would I be looking for in a Chicago pizza place. Giordano's gives you that, what with the different jerseys of time honored sports teams like the Bulls and Blackhawks but also features memorabilia from events like Taste of Chicago and the World's Fair. It shows authentic shields and badges from our city's finest. While dining I had a full on Sex and the City moment. I mean what was more Chicago than having a deep dish pizza, a beer, and watching the Bears play on a Sunday evening?
Price: Lou Malnati's.
Lou Malnati's is definitely the better deal. With a deep dish pizza for two pricing at $12.40 while the competition prices a similar meal at $19.75. And if you start adding extra ingredients you're looking at almost $25! Lou Malnati's also offers 4 sizes including a one serving mini pizza. While Giordano's only offers the 3 sizes starting off at the two serving.
Though both excel at varying factors over the competitor, I couldn't comfortably choose which is the better overall pizzeria. Like the Sox and Cubs, O'Hare and Midway, sometimes ya gotta have both! I feel proud that in true bigger and better Chicago form we have not one, but two great deep dish pizza places to glorify.
So, like many clueless people before me have asked, "how was it for you?" Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org or just comment below. Also, don't forget to visit us at facebook.com/4StarExplorer to view the other mouthwatering photos we collected on our excursions, and please, don't drool on the keyboard.
Visit these and other Chicagoland Area Locations!!!
805 South State Street
6314 South Cicero Ave