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A Review Of La Malnati’s Pizza

Location: (4.0 / 5)
Atmosphere: (3.0 / 5)
Service: (3.0 / 5)
Food: (1.0 / 5)

Last week my family and I visited what is supposed to be one of the best places to get deep dish pizza in Chicago.

Surprisingly, even though I’ve done a lot of traveling, I’ve never had deep dish pizza and neither had anyone else in my family.

As we bumped across the city on the train (which is not my recommendation unless you sit in the car behind the conductor) my mom and I checked reviews of several pizzerias and we kept finding La Malnati’s.  

La Malnati’s had great ratings and several locations across Chicago including one near the Chicago Downtown Hilton where we were staying.

So the very first night we were in Chicago, we walked the 700 feet from our hotel to have our first deep dish pizza experience.

How Long It Took:

 

Time We Waited For A Table: Over An Hour

Time We Waited For Our Pizza: Over An Hour

 

Upon arriving, we had a wait time of about 45 minutes before being seated.  They offered to take our order before we were seated so that it would be ready when we got a table. 

I didn’t keep track of the time that it actually took, but our wait time was longer than the 45 minutes we were quoted and then we waited probably an hour (maybe longer) once getting a table for our pizza to come out, even though we’d ordered while waiting. 

What We Ordered:

*Pepperoni Deep Dish

*Gluten Free Thin Crust With Olives and Mushrooms- No Cheese (our attempt to make a vegan pizza).

 

What We Got:

Pepperoni Deep Dish

Gluten Free Thin Crust With Olives and Mushroom AND Cheese

 

We had read online that there were vegan options for my sister who is vegan, but upon arriving there weren’t any indicators of vegan options on the menu.  The place was so packed that it was difficult to talk to someone about the pizza options especially since they told us to place our order with the very busy host while waiting in the lobby, and not with a traditional waiter.  

After scoring the menu, my sister decided on a gluten-free crust because in her experience those were more likely to be vegan.  This decision was also based on the fact that the deep dish crust was called a “butter crust”.  We later found out that the butter crust was vegan, and the gluten-free was not… which is what you would call irony!

While we specified no cheese for the gluten free pizza at least twice, when it arrived it had lots of cheese.  The confusion might have come from the fact that the crust wasn’t vegan so it was an unusual order. 

When they checked the order, it did show no-cheese, so they made it right by letting us keep the messed up pizza, making a new one and not charging us for either. 

The downside of them making a new one, was that we had to wait an additional hour to get it and my sister ended up having to eat her dinner back at our hotel room and not with the rest of our family.

The Food:

While I can’t really judge the gluten-free pizza my sister ordered, I personally was disappointed with La Malnati’s deep dish pizza. 

The crust was bland.

The sauce was acidic and lacking in flavor.

There were HUGE chunks of stewed tomatoes (like actual halves of tomatoes) randomly on the pizza.  On my first piece there were three halves of stewed tomatoes that pretty much took up the whole slice and it was actually difficult to eat. I almost didn’t have a second piece because of the stewed tomato situation. It’s possible stewed tomatoes are a thing with traditional deep-dish, so I can’t say if this is normal or just something I didn’t like.

The pepperoni on our deep dish was also sparse and weirdly distributed. Like there would be a pile of four pepperonis stacked in one place, and the rest of the piece of pizza would be without.  Once again, I don’t know if this is common because the pizza is so deep that maybe the toppings move around as the pizza cooks?

Overall Thoughts:

My overall experience at La Malnati’s was basically indifferent.  I didn’t HATE it, but I also wouldn’t go there over somewhere else.  Maybe it’s because I don’t really like traditional deep dish over regular pizza… but it WAS a good deep dish? I don’t know.

 Whatever the case may be, my entire family doctored it with the red peppers and Parmesan because it was “blah” and we all preferred The Art Of Pizza down the road… like 5 out of 5 stars would go back there… but once again, it could be because the one sells a more traditional deep dish and I just don’t like it?   

Our experience could have also been due to timing.  We were there the day after Lollapalooza and as the Hilton next door to the restaurant was filling up with two different large conferences.  Maybe this influx of people caused our pizza to be rushed.

Either way, the service we received in light of the large crowds was good.  Our water went without being filled a couple of times (not a big deal) and everything took forever (annoying, but not their fault). Regardless of those issues I would give them a higher star for service for the way they handled the crowds of people and the messed up pizza.

The Big Question-Would I Go Back?

Yes. 

If I had exhausted all other well-rated deep-dish pizza offerings (all the 4.5+ stars) in Chicago I would definitely give them another chance, or try another location.  But, time being what it is, I didn’t get to that point on my trip. 

Would I  Recommend You  Go?

I would say DEFINITELY try The Art Of Pizza down the road from La Malnati’s for takeout, but if you want to try a sit-down restaurant, sure, give La Malnati’s a go and then let me know your experience!  The service was good and with all the good reviews on Yelp and everywhere else there’s a good chance you’ll have a decent experience. Maybe call ahead and book a table to ensure you don’t have the wait time we did!

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