Okay, I'll apologize for the "second rate" comment, but with a reservation. Second rate in the big picture that is Chicago Style Pizza, maybe not. Second rate to Burt's; I'm gonna stick to that claim. And until you've tried Burt's (as I have tried Lou Malnati's), you don't have much of an argument here.
Using the logic that "You have customers almost beating down their doors to get in and eat their pizzas" as a way of proving its quality is spurious. There are millions of people eating at McDonald's every day (heck, every hour!) but that doesn't make it good
. Success does not necessarily guarantee quality. Frequently success is greater evidence of a herd mentality in our society.
Your point about Malnati’s involvement in the Taste of Chicago is irrelevant. All those restaurants pay big money to participate, and they are lined up to get in. It’s not like the city of Chicago invites them to be there based on merit. Once again, McDonald’s has had a booth at the Taste in past years as well.
Which brings me to the next point about the many accolades heaped on Lou Malnati's. I have noted in other similar threads that places like Malnati's, Uno's, Due's, and Geno's East have been heralded by many national publications as the best representatives of Chicago's pizza community. More often than not, the reporters making these assertions are out of towners without knowledge of the local geography or the many small establishments that can't afford to advertise or hire a publicist. It is my assertion that these reporters are lazy and uninterested in finding the truly great establishments serving Chicago's best "fill-in-the-blank". They would rather stay close to their downtown hotels and rely on the past glories of once relevant restaurants that are now serving what I call Tourist Food.
It's kind of like the World Series declaring one of Major League Baseball's teams "world
champions" when no other international teams are involved in the contest. In fact, at last year's international exhibition baseball tournament, our American all-stars were soundly beaten by a number of teams. You can't be the best in the world unless everybody is invited to play. Likewise you can't be declared Chicago's Best Pizza unless the person making that assessment has tried every
pizza out there. And bear in mind, I have not said Burt's pizza is the
best in Chicago, only that it is better than any of the others mentioned in this thread.
As for articles and recognition, most recently Burt was awarded the Great Neighborhood Restaurant Award by the LTHforum, a group of Chicago focused foodies with their own website. www.LTHforum.com
is highly comparable to Roadfood but with a more scholarly approach that includes everything from high end dining to the more typical Roadfood preferences. They too were non-believers, even responding with hostility to my suggestion that Burt's was better than some of their choices. Less than six months later though, they had awarded him the GNR and declared his place not just a favorite for pizza, but a favorite restaurant overall.
That award led to a very positive article and accolades in Time Out magazine that has brought many new folks to our door.
If you take the time to go to Burt's you will see countless articles from the old Pequod's days when it seemed like every newspaper and TV station in town was writing us up on an almost monthly basis. It’s almost a blessing that this has not been the case in recent years. The current restaurant is very small with only nine tables serviced by two people; Burt cooking in back and either his wife or myself working the front. We couldn’t handle much more business if we wanted to.
As for my opinion being biased, yup, it sure is. It is also based on 34 years of professional experience and exposure to the Chicago pizza community, and 49 years of eating the stuff.
Once again, if after trying Burt’s pizza you still think Lou Malnati’s is better, I’ll respect that opinion. Until you’ve actually had the stuff though, there is nothing further to discuss.