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Pizza from the Heart -- Straight from the Windy City to You

Image: lou malnati pizza Give a Chicago-style Valentine

(ARA) - This year give a Valentine that smells delicious, and is dripping with cheese and tomato sauce. Celebrate the holiday Chicago-style with the help of venerable pizzeria Lou Malnati's: Have a freshly made heart-shaped pizza with a special message on the box sent from Chicago to anywhere in the United States overnight.

These gourmet pizzas, made with the same decades-old recipe as the restaurant's traditional pizzas, can be ordered individually or as part of a Special Chicago Lover's Pack. The package includes a pizza and a decadent cheesecake from Eli's Cheesecake, another Chicago legend, or a fun heart-shaped chocolate pizza from Long Grove Confectionery in Chicago.

"Designer" pizzas may come and go, but true aficionados know that the best pizza around is Chicago-style deep dish pizza. What makes this combination of dough, cheese and tomatoes so special?

First, the dough is patted out by hand and raised up high on the sides of a seasoned deep dish pizza pan (contrary to popular opinion, true Chicago-style pizza does not have a thick crust -- it's a relatively thin crust pulled up high on the sides of the pan to encase the delicious ingredients). Next, the dough is filled with a variety of savory ingredients.

Those who have never tasted a Chicago-style deep dish pizza may be surprised by what happens next. The order in which the ingredients are placed is different than with a traditional pizza: Slices of mozzarella are placed directly on the dough and then additional ingredients like mushrooms, onions and sausage are spread on top of the cheese. Then the pizza is topped with fresh tomato sauce and dusted with a light sprinkling of cheese and spices.

The restaurant has stayed true to the original recipe that Grampa Rudy Malnati helped create in 1943 at Chicago's first deep dish pizzeria, using only the freshest ingredients, including an exclusive sausage blend. The tomato sauce is so crucial to the making of this Chicago favorite that each year the Malnati brothers go to California and meet personally with the tomato growers. The finest vine ripened plum tomatoes are then blended and canned exclusively for the restaurant's use.

Lou Malnati's has been shipping pizza for more than a decade and holds the distinction of being the world's largest pizza shipper, delivering more than 125,000 pizzas every year. The pizzas, which are made completely by hand, are baked, flash frozen, packed with dry ice in a reusable "keep fresh" cooler and shipped via FedEx Standard Overnight Service. Your personal message appears right on the cover of the box. Simply pop the pizza in a 425-degree pre-heated oven for 30 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted -- then enjoy. One heart-shaped pizza will feed two adults.

Another available gift is the Taste of Chicago Sample Pack. "This package was created to satisfy the cravings of people who miss the best of Chicago food," says Richard Oleff, Director of Marketing. This mouth-watering feast includes one of Lou Malnati's famous Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, a slab of ribs from Carson's Ribs, consistently rated the best rib joint in Chicago; 10 Vienna Beef hot dogs (buns not included), (in Chicago, more than 80 percent of the 1,800-plus hot dog vendors feature Vienna Beef products); and an incredibly decadent 8-inch cheesecake from Eli's Cheesecake.

To place an order, call (800) LOU-TO-GO (568-8646) or visit the restaurant's Web site,

Courtesy of ARA Content.

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