Pan pizza from Pequod's

The Windy City’s culinary landscape is renowned for its deep-dish pizza, a savory masterpiece that has become synonymous with Chicago’s food identity. Among the numerous pizzerias that claim mastery of this iconic dish, two names stand out in a perpetual battle for supremacy: Pequod’s Pizza and Lou Malnati’s. The ongoing debate of which pizzeria serves the best deep-dish in Chicago has sparked passionate discussions among locals and tourists alike.

In this exploration of the Pequod’s vs. Lou Malnati’s rivalry, we delve into the essence of what makes each pizzeria exceptional, from their unique takes on crust and toppings to the culinary legacies that have shaped their reputations. As we journey through the heart of Chicago’s deep-dish scene, we invite you to join us in answering the age-old question: What is truly the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago?

History of Pequod’s Pizza vs. Lou Malnati’s

Pan pizza from Pequod'sPequod’s Pizza and Lou Malnati’s are iconic names that have delighted locals and visitors alike with their distinct takes on deep-dish pizza. This rivalry — spanning decades — represents not only a clash of flavors but also a testament to the passion and innovation that drive Chicago’s pizza scene. The tale begins decades ago as both establishments embarked on separate journeys that would eventually lead to a friendly rivalry.

Pequod’s Pizza and Lou Malnati’s were both founded in 1971, forging their own paths to deep-dish greatness. Both pizzerias are renowned for their delectable pies, and they have managed to captivate the taste buds of pizza enthusiasts with their unique approaches, secret crust recipes, and commitment to upholding Chicago’s reputation for exceptional pizza for more than five decades.

How Do the Prices Compare?

Beyond the debate of whose pizza reigns supreme lies another consideration that often weighs heavily on pizza lovers’ minds — the price tag. The affordability of Pequod’s Pizza compared to Lou Malnati’s can vary depending on the specific menu items, sizes, toppings, and any ongoing promotions. Lou Malnati’s is often considered to be more affordable than Pequod’s Pizza, offering a cheaper pizza option for young families.

Pequod’s Pizza, known for its unique caramelized crust and generous cheese layers, can sometimes come at a slightly higher price point due to the distinctive nature of its pizzas. The team ensures each pizza is made to perfection. That said, the good things in life are worth paying for. So, if you’re looking to experience the heart of Chicago’s pizza scene properly and you’re happy to pay a little more for it, then Pequod’s Pizza with its world-class crust and toppings is well worth the couple of extra bucks.

Signature Recipes and Available Toppings

Lou Malnati’s focuses on a traditional deep-dish crust. The team makes their pizzas by pressing dough into a deep-dish pan to create a sweet, buttery, and flaky crust. Toppings such as sausage, green peppers, and pepperoni add more flavor to the simple dishes. On the other side of the pizza spectrum is Pequod’s Pizza, boasting a unique and unforgettable twist on deep-dish: its signature caramelized crust.

This culinary innovation has not only set it apart but also turned its pizzas into a sought-after delicacy with a loyal following, combining a crispy, cheesy outer layer with a saucy, savory center. To create the fabled dish, the pizza dough is pressed into a seasoned deep-dish pan, creating a unique crisp and caramelized crust by placing the cheese directly on the dough and cooking it along the edges of the pan.

The base can be tailored to cater to a variety of allergies, and the plethora of traditional and specialty toppings, such as spinach, ground beef, meatballs, mushrooms, jalapenos, and green peppers, satisfies all palettes and tastes.

Ambience and Dining Experience

Pequod’s various dining locations boast a warm and laid-back atmosphere, making it a favorite spot for an intimate meal out with friends or family. Both restaurants cater to a specific niche within their pizza sub-types. Lou’s is popular with the old-school crowd, while a more adventurous crowd seeks out Pequod’s.

Lou Malnati’s restaurants may be slightly more upscale at face value, but the warm, cozy, and relaxed atmosphere of Pequod’s Pizza leans toward an authentic Italian dining experience that focuses on the food first. The restaurant’s popularity is further emphasized by the snaking queues of people that line the doors at weekends, so don’t forget to make a reservation well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Dishes That Aren’t Deep-Dish Pizza

While pizza enthusiasts celebrate both restaurants for their deep-dish delicacies, their menus extend beyond these iconic dishes. Both restaurants also offer a thin crust pizza option that provides a lighter alternative while still boasting the unique flavors and toppings each pizzeria is known for. If you’re looking for something simple and light, the menu at Lou Malnati’s includes comforting soups such as the minestrone soup that’s a firm favorite.

If you’re looking for a real home-cooked and hearty Italian dining experience, Pequod’s Pizza is your best bet. It offers a variety of appetizers, sides, and mains, including garlic bread, mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, salads, and sandwiches, to keep you coming back for more. The ravioli and mostaccioli pastas are available in half and full portions to suit your appetite — they’re so good that whatever size you choose, they promise to keep you coming back for more.

Which Is the Best Deep-Dish Pizza in Chicago?

In the grand showdown of Chicago’s deep-dish pizzas, Pequod’s Pizza emerges as the victor, capturing the hearts and palates of Chicagoans. From the first bite into its legendary caramelized crust to the last morsel of gooey cheese, Pequod’s Pizza exemplifies Chicago-style dining with a cult following that truly speaks for itself.

Pequod’s innovative approach makes it the go-to destination for those seeking authentic and mouthwatering deep-dish pizza. Whether you choose to dine in, savor its flavors through take-out or delivery, or indulge in its frozen pizzas via Goldbelly, Pequod’s promises a journey into the heart of Chicago’s rich culinary heritage.