Pizza of the Big Shoulders

The Dish: The Deep Dish Pizza
The Place: Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
The Location: 100 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix Az 85012

By: Glen Davis

OK, so if you are a living, eating person in May 2016 and happen to be residing in Arizona, you’re aware of at least 3 things:

  1. The temperature has already risen to triple digits.
  2. The dust storms have started.
  3. Lou Malnati’s Pizza has hit the town.

The Chicagoland restaurant, famous for their deep dish pie chose the Valley of the Sun based on the large number of internet orders heading here from the Windy City.  We decided to wait one full day past their Monday opening and try it on Tuesday.  It’s that kind of willpower that has gotten us to where we are today.

Now, there are lots of good pizza joints in the Phoenix metro.  If you want New York style, you can hit Grimaldi’s or NYPD.  If it’s Chicago style, there’s Spinato’s and a pretty decent east coast pie at Boston’s.  If your preference is mass produced “pizza-like” objects, there are more than enough of those commercial high volume brands driving their boxes of cardboard around, but Lou’s is special.  Very special.

Once you get past the outside waiting line, you’re ushered in to the lobby/bar area.  The staff at Lou’s (50+ which were flown in from Chicago either temporarily or for good) greet you upon entrance and give you the “Apple Store” treatment and log you in on a tablet.  Once inside, we were told that we could order the food in advance of being seated to soften the wait time.  We did.  After all, as nicely as the place is decorated with it’s fun lights and signs, were were there for only one reason!

We ordered a medium The Malnati Chicago Classic™, figuring a pizza that is built to feed 3+ should be just about right for professional restaurant goers.  Good call. The pizza is brought to the table steaming hot and the black cast iron pan is plopped down in front of you on the unfinished wooden table.  The server does the …. well, serving.  My first bite was just as I had expected.  The most notable feeling I had was that “this is right”.  It’s not Phoenix pizza made to feel like Lou’s in Chicago.  It’s Lou Malnati’s Chicago Pizza here.  It was right.

The stuff is D E E P.  From the top, you can make out the crushed tomatoes and see some of the wonderful sausage .  Since it’s deep dish, you don’t get to see the cheese or crust, but you do get to taste it!  From bottom up, there is their famous Buttercrust TM.  It is a wonderfully flaky, buttery, surprisingly light and crunchy crust outside with a perfect mouth-feel and slightly chewiness inside.  Atop that, but under the amazingly fresh tasting tomatoes is a nice layer of cheese.  Add to that some sausage like you’ve never tasted (not the usual caraway seeded, over seasoned,  crumbly stuff, but fresh tasting tender large hunks of wonderful sausage) and you’ve got the perfect pie.

It was perfect!  It was crisp and soft.  It was steamy and flavorful.  It was heavy and light.  It is the ultimate gastronomic oxymoron.

We ate…and ate…and ate, then I realized that all I had eaten were two slices and then I was excited about the prospect of having some Lou’s in my fridge for tomorrow.

Now Lou’s is special.  As great as it is, it’s a commitment.  For me, it’ll be my “special occasion pizza” and i’ll leave those other great aces in the rotation.  None of the 6 or say well-known joints in the same Central and Camelback neighborhood should worry about being squeezed out.  But when it’s time for a serious hunk of pie, it’s Lou Malnati’s time for sure!


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