Pizza, make that deep-dish pizza, carries some weight when you talk with Chicago locals. Everyone has a favorite version. So much so that I couldn’t help but feel Chicago folks feed off rivalries; just ask a Sox fan if he likes a Cubs fan. Either way, asking someone which deep-dish pizza they prefer is like asking a group of people what the meaning of life is. Two names that always sit near the top are Uno Chicago Grill and Lou Malnati’s. From humble beginnings, these deep-dish behemoths have certainly changed over the years and are now spreading their thick crusts across the US.
Having experienced Lou’s on my first night (no camera in hand), I couldn’t help but think my non-scientific comparison would only be complete if I could visit Uno. I’d also have to order the same pizza at both restaurants; Spinach, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and 3 Cheese Blend. What I found intriguing at Uno was that you order before you even get a table. It takes anywhere from 45-75 minutes to get your pizza. Crazy, I know. This means you inform the wait staff what you’d like and then hopefully, it’ll be ready sometime shortly after getting a seat. I’m all for waiting if the food is good, but had it not been for the road side table (people watching in Chicago = awesome), I’d seriously consider the wait to be a bummer.
The pizza…where do I being. I’m not even sure you can compare Lou’s and Uno’s. Being thick might have been the only comparable item. I found the crust at Uno to be buttery, almost cracker-like, with a mound of absolutely fresh toppings. Lou’s was thinner in the middle, with toppings that didn’t seem to ever mingle properly. The combination at Uno, and I say this as a thin crust pizza guy, was great. Fresh roma tomatoes, perfectly wilted spinach and soft mushrooms contrasted the thick crunchy crust, before giving away to a cheese smorgasbord. You know you are having a first-world-problem moment, when the damn pizza is so thick that it just doesn’t cool down in time to ram it in your mouth. Nothing ruins a moment like scalding hot cheese to the roof of your mouth if you know what I’m saying. So be careful kids. I don’t want to see you hurt.
No matter where you end up getting your pie when you visit Chicago I can’t help but think Uno’s should be in your list.