We've been patiently waiting for Lou Malnati's to open their Broad Ripple location because the Carmel location was carry out only and just a little too far away to make it back to our place with the pizza bag. This is the first dine-in Lou Malnati's in Indiana!
My friend Ellis says this place is his go-to could-eat-every-day pizza, which is really saying something! It's Chicago deep dish and looks like the real deal.
This location has only been open about a week, so when we went at 7pm on a Friday we had about an hour wait for a table for two. We did end up with a super nice booth though. The inside is one big room with a sort of barn ceiling painted white and vintage carnival decor here and there - like a fun house mirror on the way to the bathroom and an antique carrousel horse on the wall.
I think this place is still working the bugs out because there was a lot of running around but not a lot happening. If I had to guess I bet they are following the Lou Malnati's franchise manual to the letter and wasting a lot of time - like when my salad arrived the waiter looked like he was going to take time to serve us each a portion of salad from the bowl and I was like we got it thanks!
We ordered breadsticks but they never came, and I got one of the best Caesar salads of my life to start with. They don't have individual portions, just family size and sharable size, so this medium salad is meant for two but I ate the whole thing myself. There's something about a Caesar salad that adds diced tomato, simply amazing. The croutons tasted like they were fresh baked too, I really can't say enough about this great salad.
Unfortunately the pizzas were sort of a let down, especially considering the level of hype. After Ellis telling me this is his all time favorite pizza, and waiting an hour to be seated, our expectations were at an all time high.
The pizzas arrived and the waiter clumsily cut slices for each of us and served the first slice on a plate and handed it to us. Again, I get this is a service flex, but totally unnecessary. The reason we didn't get any attention for 10 minutes after sitting down is because the waiter was doing this for a party of 9, cutting slices out and serving each of them their first piece one by one. Chris hypothesized that maybe the pans are hot when they come out and they do this so that you don't try to touch them and burn yourself getting the first piece out.
I got The Lou, which is spinach mix (enhanced with garlic, basil & onion), mushrooms and sliced Roma tomatoes covered with three cheeses, on a garlic Buttercrust. The tomato was fresh but the spinach mix came out a bit wet and sloppy. The crust was an enigma honestly, it had a good texture but no flavor at all. Definitely not what I would call "buttercrust." It was sturdy and fully cooked, not like it was undercooked in the middle or anything, it was just a soup of ingredients.
Are they forgetting a step because they just opened? Are they going to dial it in, or is this just what Lou Malnati's pizza crust tastes like?
Chris got double pepperoni and said he still didn't taste much pepperoni. It was lacking heat because the pizza sauce was very minimally seasoned tomato puree. So this somewhat sweet and fresh tasting minimal sauce paired with a bland crust - we could have used a healthy dose of grease and salt.
I don't know what else to say, I'm not trying to write a shock review to get a bunch of clicks - I'm just left scratching my head. Was something missing, or is this just what people grow up on in Chicago?