A Malnati's memory for Father's Day

The original Lou Malnati's in Lincolmwood

The original Lou Malnati's in Lincolmwood

My sons and daughters-in-law made this a very special Father's Day by arranging for a big table at Malnati's Pizzeria in Lincolnwood where we dined, family style, at a restaurant that has been a favorite for more than 40 years.

I met Lou Malnati in 1967, the year I came to Chicago, when Marv Astrin who was then Sales manager of WGN Radio, wanted to introduce me to deep-dish pizza and took me to Pizzeria Uno over at Wabash & Ohio, where Lou's Father, Rudy Malnati, Sr. created the dish in the 1940's.

With a smile at the incongruity, Lou and is wife Jean chose to open their own Pizzeria in Lincolnwood on St. Patrick's Day. We were there on March 17, 1971 and for many years to come as Lou made it an annual  event even having Harrington's famed corned beef brought in for that one day each year. As we've grown so has the Malnati Empire with more than 30 locations in the Chicagoland area now. There are sit downs, take outs and delivery as well as a huge catering department

My eyes became a little moist yesterday as I recalled the times we asked the kids if they wanted to eat out and the consensus was always, "Pizza at Malnati's!" Even nicer, were the times the surroundings and the company of the Malnati family offered a respite for two tired old timers who needed a break.  This is where we found it.

The food is still tasty and perfectly prepared. We started with generous platters of Calamari and  Bruschetta followed by the Malnati Salad and then the pizza. There was a cheese, a spinach, a mushroom pepperoni and gardiniere and one of Lou's special creations. A few at the able opted for pasta, or a meatball sandwich. No one went hungry.

At this stage of my life, memories are important and bless my kids for realizing how special this Father's Day could be and going all out to make it a memorable one. As I looked around the table yesterday I felt so proud the way the boys had turned out, doing what they want to do in life and raising families of their own. I used to think Father's Day was just another of those "manufactured" days, but I now realize how important in can be.



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