When I heard that Barstool Sports President Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente on Twitter) was rolling through my city to do pizza reviews, I was excited and curious to see what he had to say.
Now that the reviews have come and gone, there has been plenty of criticism of the Head Stoolie’s scores of four of the top deep dish and stuffed pizza spots: Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, Pequod’s and Gino’s East. Of course, people recommended other spots and some just got downright defensive of his critique. Just look at some of the tweets below:
Well, Mr. President, I’m from Chicago and I completely agree with your reviews of our pizza. They were spot on, accurate and a true assessment of what our pizza tastes like (at least the ones you tried).
Check out the reviews below and my reaction to each one, ranked in order from the best to worst score.
1. Giordano’s at 730 N Rush St. – SCORE: 8.4
My take: Giordano’s at 730 N. Rush St. scored the highest honor at 8.4. I couldn’t agree more with Portnoy’s assessment. Giordano’s is definitely deserving of Chicago’s top spot – the Prez was spot on complimenting its cheesiness and describes it as “pretty friggin’ good.” And how about the guest features in this review from the guy working outside to “The Birdkiller.” Nothing gets more Chicago than some random dude rolling up on a Divvy wearing a Yankee cap and a Bob Ross t-shirt talking about how Alka Seltzer makes seagulls explode. And then he puts his two slices of pizza in a thermal bag, to-go? Fucking savage. Also, shout out to the guy working outside for the pro-tip on Lou Malnati’s – go for crumbled sausage, not the sausage patty – nobody needs that much sausage.
2. Lou Malnati’s (aka Lou Malanati’s) at 1120 N State St. – SCORE: 8.2
My take: Although I agree with Prez’s top ranking of Giordano’s, I will say that Lou Malnati’s has always been my favorite. But how can I disagree with a score of 8.2? That’s pretty damn good from a pizza taster of Portnoy’s authority. While the pizza did seem a bit hot, Portnoy took his one bite and then some even as it fell apart. While this wasn’t his top score, you could tell he enjoyed that buttery Lou’s crust Chicagoan’s love, and that’s all that really matters. This review again provides another band of characters with the Caleb Pressley look-a-like who asked for a pic with Portnoy to show his buddies who were Barstool fans. We also are introduced to the man with the white-rimmed sunglasses who initially ran away after asking for a slice, then dropped a classic Chicago reference by giving a score of “two thumbs up” Siskel and Ebert-style after eating his Lou’s. Also, let’s cut Portnoy a break for saying “Malanati’s” instead of “Malnati’s and just be happy that the beloved Lou’s bagged a great score, damn it.
3. Pequod’s at 2207 N Clybourn Ave. – SCORE: 7.4
My take: I didn’t grow up with Pequod’s and didn’t have it until a year ago. Is it good? Yeah. But is it the best Chicago has to offer? Nah, I don’t think so. And El Presidente agrees, saying “everyone says this is the best…the Pizza King is here to disagree. I think this is the least favorite of the three for me (between Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s and Pequod’s).” 7.4 is a very respectable score and doesn’t take anything away from this pizza. But Pequod’s to me has always felt like the place that people who move to Chicago say is the best pizza, not people who grew up in the city or even grew up in the Chicagoland area. It’s like they just say Pequod’s is better because Lou’s or Giordano’s is too mainstream for them. Again, the pizza is good, but let’s not kid ourselves here, it doesn’t beat the OGs of Chicago-style pie. Also, shout out to the guy in the video hauling kegs up and down to and from the basement.
4. Gino’s East at 162 E Superior St. – SCORE: 6.2 – THIN CRUST SCORE: 4.1
My take: As soon as I heard Portnoy was headed to Gino’s, I pretty much knew it would score dead last out of his lineup. Why? It’s just not the “go to” for residents of Chicago. It’s not the spot anyone thinks of when they’re looking to do it up with a fork and knife. Would I eat it if it were offered to me? Of course. But it’s not something I’d go out of my way for. A decent score of 6.2 is given to Gino’s East’s classic deep dish and it is very spot on, dead-accurate if you will. I don’t know why anyone at their restaurant said to trot out the thin crust or “roller rink”-style pizza as the Stool Presidente calls it. Had they known what this pizza was being tasted for, I think they would have just recommended the deep dish. But instead, their thin crust had to suffer through a score of 4.1. Ouch. Also, get that man the right t-shirt size!
What else did we learn?
- Order ahead, WAY ahead to allow time for deep dish pizza to cook so you don’t have to wait too long
- Open Chicago pizza boxes by using the two flaps on the side first
- Let those deep dish pizzas cool down before eating
- Don’t get the sausage disc at Lou Malnati’s
- Alka Seltzer makes seagulls pop
I hope the great Barstool leader returns to Chicago to try Big Cat’s recommended picks of Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria and Armand’s – if anyone else is with me, I also think he should try Piece Pizza in Wicker Park. Some have called for a review at the inventor of deep dish pizza, Pizzeria Uno. And although it is tasty, I don’t know if it even scores above Gino’s East. Just because they came up with it, doesn’t mean they’re the best. We’ll have to see what happens.
But as for this first round of Chicago pizza reviews, I salute you, Mr. President.
Let me know what you think of the Barstool Chicago pizza reviews and where they should visit in Chicago next on Twitter @ekurbyun and see what pizza I’m stuffing my fat face with on Instagram @ekurbyun.
Feature Image: Barstool Sports YouTube