Since we first told you about the restaurant's plans to expand to Arizona, deep-dish pizza fans have been waiting impatiently for the opening. The central Phoenix pizzeria will be the company's first location outside of the greater Chicago area — and, according to company spokespeople, it may not be the last. The company plans to focus its attention on expanding in the metro Phoenix market, possibly opening additional locations here should the first restaurant do well.
In keeping with Uptown Plaza's midcentury vibe, the 6,800-square-foot restaurant features a sleek, stylish design and offers 220 seats indoors and an additional 73 seats on the well-misted outdoor patio. A 19-seat bar offers 10 beers on tap, including local brews from Wren House Brewing Company and Four Peaks. The food menu, for those who aren't familiar, includes both deep-dish and thin-crust pies, appetizers, pasta, salads, and dessert.
Signature items include Stuffed Spinach Bread ($6.45), a crusty "loaf" (imagine something in between a pasty and a pot pie) stuffed with a gooey mix of spinach, cheese, and onions. Served with a side of the restaurant's rich marinara, it's a hearty start to any meal.
As far as pizzas, you'd do well to try the restaurant's deep dish on a first visit, though consider yourself warned: they take about a half hour to come out. The obvious choice is The Malnati Chicago Classic ($14.95 for a small), which comes on the restaurant's well-loved Buttercrust. The crust is crumby on the outside and still doughy inside, and makes an excellent structural support for the heavy filling of stringy melted cheese, sauce, and peppery sausage chunks. The "Lou" is a somewhat lighter option, made on Garlic Buttercrust and featuring spinach, mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes on top.
And move over, Oregano's, because Lou Malnati's offers a Chocolate Chip Pizza ($6.25) that features generous scoops of vanilla ice cream over a hot, half-baked chocolate chip cookie.
Initially, Lou Malnati's in Phoenix will be open for dinner at 4 p.m. daily. The restaurant will expand its hours to include lunch within a few weeks; permanent hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.
Reservations will not be accepted.
For more information, check the Lou Malnati's website.