Battle of the Chicago Pizzas

Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s? That’s really what it comes down to.

If you’re familiar with the Chicago area, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There are really only three places that Chicago dwellers talk about: Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, or Gino’s East (Sorry, Pizzeria Uno is good, but it’s not in league with the other three).

I fell in love with Giordano’s years ago when my cousin Wendy took Lori and I there. Since then, she’s been known to send me one via Fed Ex on special occasions. Over the years I have had Ginos East on several occasions and enjoyed it; it’s just no comparison to Giordano’s. But for whatever reason, I had never tried Lou Malnati’s. So I made it a priority to try it as I passed through Chicago this week.

Wednesday I flew into Chicago, stopped by my favorite Giordano’s restaurant, and headed up to Wisconsin where I was to teach a workshop for EV youth pastors in the district (fun group- we had a great time). After teaching the workshop Thursday, I headed back down to Chicago (only a few hours drive- worth it, rather than laying over in Chicago). This time I mapped out where a Lou Malnati’s restaurant was… and I stopped in for dinner.

You have to realize… Giordano’s is pure heaven to me. It would almost take a miracle for another pizza to surpass the “heaven sent” goodness of a Giordano’s pizza. So Lou Malnati’s had it’s work cut out for it.

The atmosphere of this particular Shaumburg location was really inviting. The booth was comfy and the waitress was nice. I told her that this was my first Lou Malnati’s experience. She told me that there was no comparison… Lou’s was the best. I was glad to hear it. I eagerly ordered my usual toppings (pepperoni and mushroom) and took the waitress’ advice by selecting Lou’s famous “butter crust.”

The pizza took 30 minutes, as do any good deep dish pizzas (Giordano’s actually takes 40 minutes because I always order the stuffed crust… drool, slobber…).

I was surprised how good the first bite was. My first thought, “Uh oh, Giordano’s has some competition.” Not that Lou’s was better mind you, but definitely in the same league. The sauce was what really caught my attention. Perfectly spicy. One of the best I’ve ever had.

As I dug deeper into the pizza, I realized that I wasn’t crazy about the crust. It’s good, mind you. But it’s no Giordano’s.

In Lou’s defense… it might be that I ordered the “butter crust.” I’m not a big fan of Gino’s East for that very reason. They literally have a yellow crust, very much like the buttery crust I tasted tonight at Lou’s. Next time I’m in Chicago, I’m going to have to give Lou’s a second chance, ordering the normal deep dish crust.

Well… there it is. Giordano’s maintains it’s position as #1 in my book. Not just #1 pizza place… #1 PLACE! (I’d take Giordano’s over Disneyland any day!)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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2 Responses to Battle of the Chicago Pizzas

  1. Mike says:

    Now I’m hungry!
    That was a great seminar yesterday and I thank you for coming up. One of the big things I cam away with was ideas for youth group (your use of music and the quiz), and ways to get my leaders involved. Thanks.

  2. Jim says:

    I had almost the same reaction you had in my Giordano’s/Malnati’s comparison test. Disclaimer: one of my friends has pronunciation problems and calls Lou Malnati’s “Illuminati’s,” which may skew my judgment subconsciously because I’m suspicious of their plans for world domination. As Dale Gribble used to say in King of the Hill, “I’ve got theories…”