The best pizza in Chicago is definitely a matter of opinion, and in my opinion Lou Malnati’s is not the best pizza in the city, by a long shot. I honestly don’t even understand why people like it as much as they do. There’s not that much sauce on it in general, the sauce itself is loaded with huge chunks of cooked tomatoes (gross!), and it just doesn’t taste that great. So what’s the appeal?

No, seriously, let me know in the comments, why do you like Lou Malnati’s so much?

I’m not going to sit here and bash the pizza, cause, like I said, it’s all a matter of opinion, I just feel like there are a lot better options out there for pizza, whether it’s thin crust or deep dish, but it seems like whenever anyone is visiting Chicago, they are always told to check out Lou Malnati’s.

Why I Don’t Like Lou Malnati’s Pizza

Straight out the gate, I’m not a huge fan of deep dish pizza, so that doesn’t help the case for Lou’s. I know they have thin crust also, and I’ve had it on many different occasions, but the majority of the time when someone is talking about how Lou Malnati’s is the best pizza in Chicago, they are referring to the deep dish pizza not the thin crust, so that’s what I’m going to be referring to here.

There are a few deep dish pizzas that I don’t mind, like Giordano’s for instance. I think Giordano’s deep dish pizza is way better than Lou Malnati’s. Their sauce is sweeter, there’s a lot more of it with no tomato chunks, and the crust just tastes better. It seems like Lou’s sauce is barely there, and what little sauce the pizza has is basically just all tomato chunks.

I like my pizza sauce a little on the sweeter side with all of the tomato chunks pureed into a saucy paste, not just sitting on top of the cheese.

As for the Lou Malnati’s cheese, no complaints there. There’s an abundance of cheese on the pizza underneath the minuscule layer of sauce, so that may be the only redeeming quality of the pizza.

The crust is just not good in my opinion. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I just don’t care for it. Going back to Giordano’s, I like the crust there much more than Lou Malnati’s. It’s all just a matter of personal taste, but I just don’t like the taste of Lou’s crust. Even the thin crust, which I would prefer to eat if I had the choice, just doesn’t do it for me, and I love thin crust pizza.

I just feel that Lou Malnati’s is always mentioned as being the best pizza in Chicago when there are far better options out there if you’re in town visiting.

I know part of the appeal of Malnati’s is that there are a lot of locations all over the Chicagoland area, making it more easily accessible to those that might be visiting in the suburbs, but you still have options like Giordano’s in the burbs that would be a much better choice.

So I don’t know. I know I’m in the minority here in regards to my feelings on Lou Malnati’s pizza, but this is how I’ve always felt about their pizza, and nothing is going to change my mind at this point.

So What Pizza Do I Like?

As I mentioned above, I’m definitely more of a thin crust pizza person. Despite growing up in the Chicagoland area my entire life, I’ve always enjoyed thin crust pizza way more than deep dish pizza.

Now, if I had to choose a deep dish pizza, I would choose Giordano’s 100% of the time, which I know will upset some people. I’ve had places like Pequod’s, Gino’s East, and Pizzeria Uno (just to name a few), but I would still rate Giordano’s as my favorite deep dish pizza in Chicago.

With locations all over the place it’s easily accessible, the sauce is a lot sweeter than most pizza sauces, which I like, and there’s a lot more of it on top of the cheese. The cheese is delicious, and the crust is much better than a lot of other places.

I’m definitely not an expert on deep dish pizza though, so I would take this entire article with a grain of salt, but if I absolutely had to eat deep dish pizza, I would choose Giordano’s every time.

Now, as for thin crust pizza, I’ve definitely had my fair share, so I like to think that my thoughts on this topic should be taken a little more seriously, but I know that I have absolutely terrible taste in food in general, so my thoughts here may not resonate with everyone else.

I wrote an article about 5 years ago about my favorite pizza places in Chicago, and I would say that most of those still hold true, but the late addition to the bottom of that article definitely deserves a spot near the top.

So without delay, my favorite pizza place in Chicago is from Piece Brewery and Pizzeria.

Their thin crust pizzas are absolutely amazing, and we love going into the restaurant to eat. We’ve always just had a great experience every time we’ve gone in and the food is always amazing.

I tend to stick to the traditional pepperoni pizza, but they also have some different things on the menu, like a mashed potato white pizza, and on special occasions even a Lobster Pizza from our friends at The Happy Lobster.

It doesn’t matter what pizza you order though, everything I’ve ever eaten at Piece has been amazing and it definitely deserves a spot at the top of any Best Pizza in Chicago list.

And as my original list stated, I would still rank Barnaby’s Pizza up there as one of my favorite thin crust pizzas in the Chicagoland area. The crust at Barnaby’s is just absolutely amazing. It’s definitely my favorite pizza to order if we’re not going to make it down to Piece, which is pretty much all the time.

In addition to that though, I have more place that I would rank up there as being one of my favorites, but unfortunately there aren’t any locations in the Chicagoland area as it’s mainly a St. Louis style pizza joint. But, there are still locations in Illinois, so while it’s not somewhere I would recommend for someone visiting Chicago, I have to get Imo’s Pizza any time I’m down in St. Louis.

The crust is cracker thing, the provel cheese makes it stand out against anything else, and the sauce, even though there’s not that much, is perfect. It’s a treat for us anytime we go down to STL to visit friends and it’s been far too long since I’ve had a piece.

So there you have it, why I think Lou Malnati’s is overrated and doesn’t deserve to be the first recommendation to anyone visiting Chicago.

And maybe I’m not alone in thinking it’s overrated. Maybe it’s recommended so often just because it’s an easy answer. I mean, like I said above, there are tons of locations, so you can pretty much hit it wherever you are staying. It is deep dish pizza, which is what everyone that comes to Chicago wants. And in most people’s eyes, it’s not bad tasting.

So seriously, what is it about Lou Malnati’s that makes everyone recommend it to out of towners so often? What is the main appeal of it? If it’s just personal preference, great, I can understand that, everyone likes what they like. I just don’t get the mass appeal of it…

[photo courtesy of Sara B. – since I rarely eat Lou Malnati’s I don’t have a picture of it right now]



14 Responses

    1. What I’m struggling with is defining what the basics of a Chicago deep dish is. I personal found Lou to make a lack luster pizza partly because people talk about Chicago deep dish add being different… Is pizza hut and Lou trying to make the same thing with deep dish? Researching on Google makes me think that a Chicago deep dish medium thickness crust with high sidewalls to hold on the reverse ish layering and abundant toppings cheese and sauce. All I know is I didn’t get that at Lou’s and that makes me think they are not Chicago deep dish anymore

    1. I haven’t ventured out to as many Chicago pizza places as I would like, you’re right, but regardless of that, Lou Malnati’s is not the best pizza in Chicago… in my opinion. There are far better options out there.

  1. Received a pizza in mail from Lou’s. One of the worst pizza ever. Sausage smells like dirty bath water. Huge chunks of Tomato with flavorless crust. Red Barons is better.

    1. The huge chunks of tomatoes in the sauce is a huge turnoff for me. I’ve never had one of the ones they send in the mail, but even fresh out of the oven, it’s one of my least favorite pizzas in Chicago.

  2. Completely agree Tom. I’m a huge foodie, big fan of deep dish pizza, and a native Chicagoan. Lou’s is better suited for the trash. Every once in a while I decide to give it another try, thinking maybe I’ve just been unlucky in the pizzas I’ve had before, but no. HUGE disappointment every time. The crust tastes like tortilla chips, too grainy and corn meal like. I always get extra cheese, and there’s always barely any. The cheese hardens as soon as the pizza starts to cool down and it’s hard to chew. The sausage tastes like super plain undercooked sausage youd get in the discount section of a store. The sauce? What sauce? Throwing canned stewed tomatoes on top is not a sauce. Even just a bit of salt to any part of it would improve the flavor immensely. Terribly bland, no spices or herbs. I always make the mistake of paying $1.40 per extra topping (onion and green peppers) and it’s a rip off for the amount you get. And considering the crust is barely an inch thick and filling portion is even thinner than that, id hardly call this deep dish. I’ve had hand tossed pizzas thicker than this. Lou’s is overly priced, flavorless, and doesn’t even deserve to be called pizza let alone a deep dish. So many better choices out there.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I know I’m not the only one that feels this way, but it’s like people are afraid to say bad things about it. Definitely much better options out there.

  3. “I’m not a pizza fan, but I’m going to tell you where the best pizza is in Chicago.”

    lol yeah ok doofus

    I’m not a movie fan, but I’m going to tell what the best movie was in 2020

    1. Wait… I don’t recall saying that I wasn’t a pizza fan, I said I wasn’t a fan of deep dish pizza. I don’t mind it from some places, but I would choose thin crust pizza over deep dish any day of the week. And I would choose anywhere over Lou Malnati’s when it comes to thin or deep dish. It’s just not as good as everyone makes it out to be.

  4. If you don’t like deep dish why are you ordering lou manaltis. Thats like saying I hate fast food but I ordered McDonald’s and gave it a shit review

    1. I mean, it’s not like I’ve never been to a party where they only ordered deep dish and it was all I had available… I’ve had it plenty of times in my life and can deal with it if I have to, but deep dish or thin crust, Lou Malnati’s is extremely overrated and mainly just used as the place to take people from out of town. Pizano’s tastes just like Lou Malnati’s to me… deep and thin crust…. which makes sense since both restaurants stem from the same family.

  5. If you like thin crust, pizanos is good ,aurelos has good thin crust. Lou is known for deep dish, the thin crust isn’t even frozen pizza level.

  6. Don’t like Lou’s that much either and they sure don’t make a lot of options. Chicken pizza is better for you and it’s not an option ??

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