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Why I no longer order lunch from Malnati's [Highland Park]

Why I no longer order lunch from Malnati's [Highland Park]
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  • Post #31 - February 24th, 2019, 11:05 pm
    Post #31 - February 24th, 2019, 11:05 pm Post #31 - February 24th, 2019, 11:05 pm
    NFriday wrote:Three of us went in together on a deep dish pizza with tomatoes and mushrooms. I did not care for the bottom of the crust. You definitely needed a knife and fork to eat the pizza. The bottom of the crust was really crunchy. When I tried to cut into it, a piece of the crust flew off the plate.

    Actually, given what you ordered -- and based on my experience with how these ingredients are typically handled at Malnati's -- it seems miraculous that your pizza was anything but soggy. I think I would have liked it this way, unless it was burnt. Fwiw, I find that most deep dish pizzas require a knife and fork.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #32 - February 25th, 2019, 11:43 am
    Post #32 - February 25th, 2019, 11:43 am Post #32 - February 25th, 2019, 11:43 am
    Sorry you had a bad experience. Was the bottom burnt or just...rigid?

    Our go-to Malnati's delivery order is a deep dish "The Lou," with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes on buttercrust. Despite originating from across town, I don't think we've ever had a soggy pie. (Perhaps it helps that we take their advice and order it unsliced for delivery.) I usually approach it with cutlery, but Lou's deep dish has more structural integrity than other pies I've had from Giordano's, etc.

    Oak Park Lou's, count me a fan!
  • Post #33 - February 25th, 2019, 1:29 pm
    Post #33 - February 25th, 2019, 1:29 pm Post #33 - February 25th, 2019, 1:29 pm
    NFriday wrote:Hi- I did not see a thread for Lou Malnati's specifically. I was at the Evanston location tonight with four other people. Three of us went in together on a deep dish pizza with tomatoes and mushrooms. I did not care for the bottom of the crust. You definitely needed a knife and fork to eat the pizza. The bottom of the crust was really crunchy. When I tried to cut into it, a piece of the crust flew off the plate. I've never had a bad pizza there before. The last time I had deep dish pizza it was at Giordano's in Evanston, and the crust was just fine. Tonight we had one piece of pizza left over, and two of us did not want to take it home. Finally somebody said he would take it home to give to his Mother. The other two people ordered a thin crust with sausage and they said it was good.
    Sounds like you had an unusually crunchy dough that time though I tend to like my Malnati's crust on the crispier side that does sound strange. If I get it to go I order it uncut and I will crisp it up in the oven as well. Just to be clear as it's a little bit of a local pet peeve for me (just like Costanza; I can't let it go) so I must clarify - Giordano's is stuffed pizza not deep dish with a completely different crust. Malnati's is going to be harder and more dense, Giordano's is just dough run through a sheeter. On a personal preference note Lou Malnati's is probably my favorite pizza with Giordano's and other stuffed pizzas pretty close to the bottom.
  • Post #34 - July 1st, 2019, 5:11 am
    Post #34 - July 1st, 2019, 5:11 am Post #34 - July 1st, 2019, 5:11 am
    Lou Malnati's, Lincolnwood on a rainy Sunday night delivered the best version of their thin crust I've had in decades. The stars simply aligned

    Moderate delivery time, piping hot out of the box, crisp crust, onion/sausage/mushroom tasty, a better version of itself. 5-adults made short work* of an extra-large and left me wishing I ordered two.

    LouMP1.jpg Lou Malnati's Thin Crust


    Lou Malnati's Thin Crust, count me a fan!

    *Two said they weren't hungry then changed their minds the second the pizza came. I should have known better.
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #35 - July 1st, 2019, 8:06 am
    Post #35 - July 1st, 2019, 8:06 am Post #35 - July 1st, 2019, 8:06 am
    Ron--

    I've had thin crust from their Buffalo Grove location that is just great. Ordered it as is, although I might try well done next time, as I normally do with my fave thin crusts around--Kaiser's in Gurnee and of course Wells Bros. in Racine.

    Getting back to your original post, don't know if it's been mentioned but for their salads Malnati's uses their chopped marinated bruschetta tomatoes, and we found out early on that it just doesn't work. We routinely switch out chopped fresh tomatoes for the bruschetta ones and it works fine. It's a good salad.
  • Post #36 - July 1st, 2019, 10:17 am
    Post #36 - July 1st, 2019, 10:17 am Post #36 - July 1st, 2019, 10:17 am
    Mr. Wiviott, sir.
    I would dearly love to second your enthusiastic embrace of Lou's Lincolnwood. It was a regular in our rotation for a number of years. Was. I just got too tired of the increasing variability in thin crust quality. Deep dish, always good. But I grew up back East with thin crust and at heart I guess I'm a thin crust guy. So from time to time, wanna have it. Sometimes Lou's satisfied. (Increasingly) Often, it was just flat-out unacceptable. Reasons always varied but I got tired of paying for something I had trouble eating. So it is no longer in the rotation--and hasn't been for probably over a year now. For deep dish, we'll still have their stuff, but otherwise, I think Lefty's is likely our new go-to (with an occasional order from a variety of other places).
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #37 - July 1st, 2019, 11:13 am
    Post #37 - July 1st, 2019, 11:13 am Post #37 - July 1st, 2019, 11:13 am
    I haven't had Malnati's in a long time but I do enjoy their deep dish. Last time we had it we ordered the Lou's special (sausage, butter crust) from their Wilmette location, pick up. Opened up the box and the pie was weird, the layer of sausage on the bottom had shrunk from the edges, pulling the cheese and sauce along with it. Looked like a medium pizza's topping on a large crust, with 2-3 inches of bare crust around the edges.
    I should have taken it back (although I think we picked it up near closing time) or called in a complaint but we just ate it. Other than the fact the toppings only covered the middle of the pie, it tasted fine otherwise.
  • Post #38 - July 1st, 2019, 2:49 pm
    Post #38 - July 1st, 2019, 2:49 pm Post #38 - July 1st, 2019, 2:49 pm
    Geezus! Apparently, it's true that nothing ever dies on the internet. My OP is over 10 years old! I moved my office out of Highland Park in 2011, so I can safely say that my lunchtime boycott is still in effect.

    That said, I (or someone in my household) has ordered delivery at dinner time from the Lou's HP location a number of times since then (129 times to be exact, for a grand total of $4,549.31), with very few issues. So, whatever the issues there were when I started this thread, it seems to have been that lunchtime crew back in 2008/2009 that was to blame. It's been relatively smooth sailing ever since I eliminated order lunch there.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #39 - July 1st, 2019, 9:05 pm
    Post #39 - July 1st, 2019, 9:05 pm Post #39 - July 1st, 2019, 9:05 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:That said, I (or someone in my household) has ordered delivery at dinner time from the Lou's HP location a number of times since then (129 times to be exact, for a grand total of $4,549.31), with very few issues.

    Do you really track your dining expenses in such detail? I am impressed.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #40 - July 1st, 2019, 10:08 pm
    Post #40 - July 1st, 2019, 10:08 pm Post #40 - July 1st, 2019, 10:08 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:That said, I (or someone in my household) has ordered delivery at dinner time from the Lou's HP location a number of times since then (129 times to be exact, for a grand total of $4,549.31), with very few issues.

    Do you really track your dining expenses in such detail? I am impressed.

    Yeah, everything. Not just dining. I've tracked every spending detail in Quicken, even cash, since 1998. I'm somewhat obsessive about it. I'm addicted to the data.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #41 - July 4th, 2019, 12:10 pm
    Post #41 - July 4th, 2019, 12:10 pm Post #41 - July 4th, 2019, 12:10 pm
    We live very close to Lou's Take-out in Wilmette, and have been continually been disappointed over the years with the inconsistency and genuine lack of quality.
    HOWEVER, I have had the good fortune of eating-in at Lincolnwood, splitting a deep dish and salad with three friends and been blown away by the goodness of the experience.
  • Post #42 - July 6th, 2019, 3:18 pm
    Post #42 - July 6th, 2019, 3:18 pm Post #42 - July 6th, 2019, 3:18 pm
    jilter wrote:We live very close to Lou's Take-out in Wilmette, and have been continually been disappointed over the years with the inconsistency and genuine lack of quality.
    HOWEVER, I have had the good fortune of eating-in at Lincolnwood, splitting a deep dish and salad with three friends and been blown away by the goodness of the experience.

    We live midway between the Wilmette and Lincolnwood locations and we will always patronize Lincolnwood for precisely the same reasons - despite the fact that Lincolnwood's carryout parking lot is an abomination to humanity...
    "Goldie, how many times have I told you guys that I don't want no horsin' around on the airplane?"
  • Post #43 - July 9th, 2019, 10:11 am
    Post #43 - July 9th, 2019, 10:11 am Post #43 - July 9th, 2019, 10:11 am
    That's on average once a month your household orders from Malnati's, Ronnie, with an average tab of $35. I guess you would qualify as a pretty loyal customer.

    I'm not sure what's up with the Malnati's Wilmette location. I've only ordered from there a few times, and every time seemed ok but that last time, with my shrunken toppings, that was strange. Wonder what could make a pizza do that. Was it par-cooked before? Frozen and not defrosted before putting it in the oven? Did the employee even notice the appearance before boxing and handing it to me?
  • Post #44 - April 9th, 2021, 1:39 pm
    Post #44 - April 9th, 2021, 1:39 pm Post #44 - April 9th, 2021, 1:39 pm
    The company is exploring a sale = https://www.marketwatch.com/story/chica ... 2021-04-09
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #45 - April 9th, 2021, 5:06 pm
    Post #45 - April 9th, 2021, 5:06 pm Post #45 - April 9th, 2021, 5:06 pm
    IncreDIble! (with the French accent)! $700 million...

    I was 14 when we walked with friends to the Lincolnwood store to try it out just after it opened. Fifty years ago. It was cool, it was dependable.

    Is quality slipping? We still pickup or get delivered from the Libertyville location about twice a month, and frankly since Covid a year ago, it's been hit & miss as far as crispiness/sogginess of the pizza--which has been an issue for years even with requesting well-done--but even the amount of ingredients & how they're sliced up before application to the pizza has been inconsistent.

    For the time being, I'll chalk it off to how Covid has affected restaurants as a whole and continue to support Lou's. But in the next few months, if it doesn't improve, I'll make other arrangements with my take-out money.

    So I guess they're selling high, getting out while the gettin's good...
  • Post #46 - April 9th, 2021, 5:55 pm
    Post #46 - April 9th, 2021, 5:55 pm Post #46 - April 9th, 2021, 5:55 pm
    This probably deserves a thread of it’s own or a title change.

    Here goes another one. Portillo’s is still on the downhill zephyr and now Lou’s will join them. Venture capitol will drain every penny out of them they can by lowering quality and reducing portions and staff and then when there’s nothing left will sell them for scrap. Very sad.
  • Post #47 - April 9th, 2021, 6:10 pm
    Post #47 - April 9th, 2021, 6:10 pm Post #47 - April 9th, 2021, 6:10 pm
    chicagojim wrote:This probably deserves a thread of it’s own or a title change.

    Here goes another one. Portillo’s is still on the downhill zephyr and now Lou’s will join them. Venture capitol will drain every penny out of them they can by lowering quality and reducing portions and staff and then when there’s nothing left will sell them for scrap. Very sad.

    Could not have said it better myself, though it will most likely be private equity, not venture capital, making the buy here. Hard to blame the seller, though. Don't hate the player, hate the game. This is the world we live in. :(

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #48 - April 9th, 2021, 6:38 pm
    Post #48 - April 9th, 2021, 6:38 pm Post #48 - April 9th, 2021, 6:38 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    chicagojim wrote:This probably deserves a thread of it’s own or a title change.

    Here goes another one. Portillo’s is still on the downhill zephyr and now Lou’s will join them. Venture capitol will drain every penny out of them they can by lowering quality and reducing portions and staff and then when there’s nothing left will sell them for scrap. Very sad.

    Could not have said it better myself, though it will most likely be private equity, not venture capital, making the buy here. Hard to blame the seller, though. Don't hate the player, hate the game. This is the world we live in. :(

    =R=


    Agreed. Probably private equity but the end game is the same - strip out all the assets, leave a shell and walk away. I don’t blame the seller, they want to cash in, but I just can’t get past the reality of how horrible Uno has become. Down the same path they go. If you want cash it’s hard to resist using sausage that costs half as much, premade sauce and fake cheeze. Heck, there’s a place in Arlington Heights you can outsource the whole thing to. Done.
  • Post #49 - April 9th, 2021, 6:52 pm
    Post #49 - April 9th, 2021, 6:52 pm Post #49 - April 9th, 2021, 6:52 pm
    chicagojim wrote:Agreed. Probably private equity but the end game is the same - strip out all the assets, leave a shell and walk away. I don’t blame the seller, they want to cash in, but I just can’t get past the reality of how horrible Uno has become. Down the same path they go. If you want cash it’s hard to resist using sausage that costs half as much, premade sauce and fake cheeze. Heck, there’s a place in Arlington Heights you can outsource the whole thing to. Done.

    Yep. Same thing happened to Corner Bakery and so many others. It's hard to lament the success of risk-taking entrepreneurs who work so hard to get their concepts (lifelong professional dreams) to this level but as diners, the progression truly sucks. Luckily, there are always great new places popping up . . . even during a pandemic.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #50 - April 10th, 2021, 3:50 pm
    Post #50 - April 10th, 2021, 3:50 pm Post #50 - April 10th, 2021, 3:50 pm
    As documented here, when a place like Malnati's gets so big, the owners have trouble maintaining quality. I'm not clear that corporate ownership is any worse than a local owner trying to maintain a huge enterprise.
  • Post #51 - April 10th, 2021, 10:49 pm
    Post #51 - April 10th, 2021, 10:49 pm Post #51 - April 10th, 2021, 10:49 pm
    Agree. The problem seems to be the desire to get big bigger big and rich richer rich rather than maintain high customer satisfaction and a comfortable income. And, as Ron says, that may be our America's fault as much as it is the individual's.
  • Post #52 - April 12th, 2021, 2:33 pm
    Post #52 - April 12th, 2021, 2:33 pm Post #52 - April 12th, 2021, 2:33 pm
    I don't understand much if anything about such finance matters, but I did notice in the Marketwatch article that Malnati's is already partially owned by a private equity firm:

    "The chain, whose original location in suburban Lincolnwood, Ill., opened in 1971, is owned by the founding Malnati family and the Chicago private-equity firm BDT Capital."

    So is whatever's happening --- the Malnati family selling its portion or the BDT Capital selling the other portion or the entire thing being sold to a different private equity firm or whatever --- that much different than the status quo?

    As for whatever effect there may be on product quality and/or consistency, I note above that Jay has had inconsistent experiences with Malnati's in Libertyville this past year ---I presume that can be attributed to the Covid situation rather than the involvement of BDT Capital, only because I don't know when they came into the picture. My Covid-era budget hasn't stretched to restaurant dining or carryout much at all (three times for each in the last 14 months), so I don't have much recent data to report, but I will say that over the years my experiences with Libertyville's Malnati's have all been satisfying and have kept it high on my list when I can indulge in carry-out or when family come back into town craving deep dish.
    Last edited by Katie on April 12th, 2021, 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #53 - April 12th, 2021, 2:35 pm
    Post #53 - April 12th, 2021, 2:35 pm Post #53 - April 12th, 2021, 2:35 pm
    I agree Katie. I will hold out hope that the Malnati family will somehow remain in control of the ship as they have for the last 5 years when another investor bought a majority of the company. Malnati's has long been and remains my favorite deep dish overall. As long as it remains close to what it's always been of course I am fine with that. But if they go full blown Uno Chicago Grill and change the recipe I will be really upset (I can't imagine that happening. It was simply Uno and Due when they sold - Malnati's is SO much bigger that the recipe should remain the same albeit with different ingredients). I now have a Lefty's Pizza Kitchen location in downtown HP down the street from our carryout Malnati's so I won't be in trouble if Malnati's suddenly turns to crap. I also have to admit that I am trying to eat less carb heavy deep dish than I have in the past (having lost weight last year and back to where I was in my 20's is worth cutting back on food) so it's almost as if Marc Malnati said, "With Ram4 taking a step back, we may have to cash out now..." :lol:
  • Post #54 - April 12th, 2021, 2:49 pm
    Post #54 - April 12th, 2021, 2:49 pm Post #54 - April 12th, 2021, 2:49 pm
    While we're talking quality and favorites, I will also add that Malnati's in Libertyville makes by far my favorite thin-crust pizza as well, despite there being more competition locally in that category than for deep dish.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #55 - April 12th, 2021, 5:57 pm
    Post #55 - April 12th, 2021, 5:57 pm Post #55 - April 12th, 2021, 5:57 pm
    I don't know what's going on but the issue may be deep dish is just too expensive.

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