Lou Malnati’s converts thin-crust pizza lovers to Chicago-style in one buttery bite

Lifestyle | 8 May, 2019 |

I was born and raised in New York. Pizza to me is grabbing a slice, folding it, and trying to eat it before the grease drips all the way to your elbow. There’s nothing better than New York pizza.

So Chicago-style deep-dish pizza? Fugetaboutit! You might as well tell me to root for the Red Sox. Never gonna happen.

Not only can’t you fold a slice of deep-dish pizza, everything about it is wrong. The ingredients in a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza are placed in the opposite order of a thin crust pizza. The first ingredient is thick slices of mozzarella that are placed directly on the dough. Additional ingredients like mushrooms, onions and sausage are spread on top of the cheese. Those ingredients are then topped with sauce made with whole chunks of tomatoes. Cheese on the bottom? Sauce on the top? What’s the world coming to?

But a funny thing happened on the way to the pizza oven. Chicago-based Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria moved into the neighborhood. And I saw the lines. And the happy faces. I tried to resist, but then I heard the magic word: Buttercrust.

One of the most recognizable features of a Lou Malnati’s Chicago-style pizza — which Chicagoans lovingly call a “pie” — is its deep dish crust and, in the case of the Malnati Chicago Classic, Malnati’s famous Buttercrust. As the name implies, the dough contains butter, which is added to the pizzeria’s 42-year-old dough recipe.

And, if you can imagine, it’s even more delicious than it sounds. Because of that, Lou Malnati’s has quickly become a go-to spot in the Valley since opening its first Arizona location in 2016.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response and are ready to expand so that we can serve more of our authentic deep-dish to the people of Arizona,” said Marc Malnati, owner of Lou Malnati’s. “We are looking forward to immersing ourselves in more local communities.”

What local residents really need to immerse themselves in is that Malnati Chicago Classic — made with lean sausage, extra mozzarella cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce on that mouthwatering Buttercrust. My friends from the Midwest tell me that Malnati’s Classic is as authentic Chicago as it gets.

But there’s more to Lou Malnati’s than just the Chicago Classic.

• The restaurant serves wings that might be the best served west of Buffalo.

• The deep-dish pies served with vegetables are so delicious that they take away the Buttercrust guilt.

• The Malnati salad, served Volpi salami bits and gorgonzola cheese, combines deliciousness with healthiness in an amazing way.

• And if you’re so inclined, Lou Malnati’s serves traditional thin-crust pizza. But be warned: You run the risk of being scorned if you order it.

The one thing you should know about deep-dish pizza is that it takes about 30 minutes to cook. But here’s an inside scoop: If you call ahead, Lou Malnati’s will put your pie in the oven before you get there to cut your wait time.

So, I grudgingly admit that I’ve warmed up to Lou Malnati’s pizza. Even a New Yorker can admit when he’s wrong.

But I will never root for the Red Sox. Fugetaboutit.

Lou Malnati’s Arizona locations

• Uptown Plaza, 100 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix

• 3431 N. 56th St., Phoenix, AZ 85018  (carryout and delivery only)

• 17787 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale

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