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Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category

Dominos Review

Dominos Review

Cedar Square West – Minneapolis

I first became acquainted with Dominos when I lived in my first apartment in Minneapolis.  Near the U of M, “Cedar Square West,” was a HUD experiment of a “city within a city” and the exteriors were represented to be the domicile of Mary Tyler Moore on the television program that bore her name.

Dominos was the only joint that delivered to the complex, where safety could be dicey at times.  I can still picture the long-haired, bespectacled delivery kid, who regularly bathed in patchouli.

That was about forty years ago.  When they started delivering to me, they were, in fact Dominos, but a lawsuit by the makers of Dominos Sugar forced them to change their name for a few years, and I recall it as “Pizza Park.”  Same colors, logo, but packaging and signs changed.  Ultimately, the court said the pizza guys could keep their name, and now they are the second largest pizza chain in the US, and the largest in the world, with about 10,000 stores, corporate and franchisee owned.  They bring in nearly $2 billion in revenue annually.  India is the largest Dominos market outside of the U.S.

They specialize in ‘value priced’ product, and in addition to pizza, have ‘pasta bowls,’ sub sandwiches, chicken thingies, and pizza bread.  Taking a cue from the Taco Bell philosophy, Dominos is able to take the same core ingredients, deliver them in different shapes, and with different names.

They frequently run pricing specials, and are generally acknowledged to be the technology leader as far as ordering apps, both online and with mobile. Their “pizza tracker” shows the progress of your order, from received, to prep, baking, and delivery.

One of their long time promotions was the pizza would be delivered in “30 minutes or it is free,” but ultimately, this proved to present some danger to drivers and pedestrians alike, so it was dropped.

At present, they have a deal where you can get two or more menu items at $5.99 each.  They add a delivery charge, cautioning buyers this does NOT go to the delivery man, implying you should tack on some more dough for the pizza schlepper.

Since they now offer sandwiches, pasta, and chicken, they have dropped the word “pizza” from their name, and they are now simply “Dominos.”

I haven’t had their product for years, so in the interest of keeping you, dear readers, informed, I ordered a pair of the $5.99’s, one with “hand-tossed” crust, and one with “crispy thin” crust.  Both were topped by two different processed pork products.

According to said “Pizza Tracker,” I placed my order at 11:01 AM and “Patrick” left the store with my pies at 11:17 AM.

He arrived at  11:45.

A few years ago, Dominos touted that they were completely re-inventing their pizzas, which did have a reputation for not being all that tasty.   There were a lot of jokes about not being able to tell the difference in taste and texture between the pie and the box, and so on.  So the company said a change was needed.

Today’s product is the result of those changes.

I have to tell you, both pies were pretty awful.  Similar in taste to low end frozen pies, like Totinos, or Tonys.  The hand-tossed one had two types of Italian sausage, chunk and sliced, and the thin crust was pepperoni and salami. Except they forgot the salami.  Sausage pie was cut in sliced, pepperoni in squares.

While I am usually a fiend for thin crust over any other kind, I actually preferred the hand-tossed today.

But neither have any distinctive flavor, in their toppings, sauce or cheese.  At the low end of the price point schedule, i actually preferred the bacon wrapped deep dish from Little Caesar’s recently.

If you’re drunk, don’t care, are cheap, have to feed somebody else’s kids,  or are hosting relatives or people you don’t like, it may well be Dominos is your best choice.

Morning after, cold pizza test:  Hand tossed, sausage pie is slightly better, thin crust, pepperoni, slightly worse.

Dominos Review

 

 

 

 

 

Dominos Review

Magazine Pizza Review – New Orleans

“Grease is the word, is the word….”    Sometimes, this is exactly the type of pie you crave.  Chewy thin crust that’s getting a good dosing of fat/oil from the toppings, easily foldable, value priced, and most of all, because they are the only ones that deliver to your neighborhood.

In what used to be a crappy pizza town, now there is a gaggle of excellent choices.  I ordered online and the pie was delivered in less than 45 minutes, all the way uptown from the CBD, and the box contained two shaker packets of cheese and a ramekin of ranch.  WTH?

The pie was satisfactory in every realm (for me, at the time) and would be a great conclusion to a New Orleans night resulting in an abundance of alcohol consumption.

Here’s a pic of the pie as delivered, and the resulting empty box. :-)

I’m pretty sure I used to go get pizza at this location years ago, but I think (don’t quote me) it was called Warehouse Pizza at the time. Or maybe not.

Magazine Pizza, I am betting, is a great choice for hotel delivery in the Quarter / CBD.

Magazine Pizza Review New Orleans

Before

Magazine Pizza Review New Orleans

After

Magazine Pizza Review New Orleans

The Building

Magazine Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

Magazine Pizza Review

Sven & Ole’s Frozen Pizza Review

Sven & Oles Frozen Pizza Review

Condiments at Centerfolds

It’s one of those places that people would describe as “it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.”   Grand Marais, Minnesota, on Lake Superior almost at the Canadian border, an early French fur trading post, the translation of the town’s name is “Great Marsh.”  The town is accessed via US Highway 61 (yes, the Bob Dylan one), and is approximately three hours north of Duluth and forty minutes south of the Canadian border.  It’s an ideal jumping off spot to explore the magnificent Boundary Waters Canoe Area, national park.

It was 1981 when two brothers opened what we’d now call a “pop up” – a snack shop for the local Grand Marais summer celebration.  It went so well, they reopened the next year and stayed open, expanding their menu to include pizza.

“Sven & Ole” are fictional characters in Scandinavian lore, and the frequent target of self-effacing jokes, much like “Boudreaux and Thibodeaux” are in the Louisiana area.  Ole & Lena gags are another variation of the northern-European humor.  (example: “Ole and Sven are at a funeral. Suddenly it occurs to Ole that he doesn’t remember the name of the dearly departed. Ole turns to Sven and asks: “Sven, could you remind me again who died?” Sven thinks for a moment and says, “I’m not sure,” Sven points at the casket, “…but I think it was de guy in de box.”)

Sven & Ole’s  pizza has taken on a somewhat legendary status in Northern Minnesota, and has launched a campaign to be provided in regional bars and groceries.  Like so many national brands that started in Minnesota and Wisconsin, using bars as outlets is a great way to build name recognition.

One of the few outlets our reporters have found so bar is a Superior, Wisconsin, gentlemen’s club, Centerfolds Cabaret  (opens daily at 5 PM) on the main drag of Tower Avenue.  Centerfolds bakes up frozen versions of Sven & Ole’s, and Kawika and the Minnesota burger posse were quite impressed with the pie.  They liked the crispy crust, high quality pepperoni and sausage and ample cheese.  Centerfold’s offers a number of condiments table side if you want to amp up your pie. Hot sauces are not advisable for application to other pies found in the club, tho.

If you live in Northern Minnesota or Wisconsin, you might start seeing Sven & Ole’s frozen pizza in your grocery.  Ask for it by name(s).

Need another reason to visit Grand Marais besides pizza? (I don’t, but you might).  Head up for the annual Fisherman’s Picnic at the end of July when the town really goes “wild.”   You’ll also have the change to partake in the local favorite, deep fried herring on a bun!  Herring used to be a major cash crop from Lake Superior –  but not so much these days.  Or try some smoked Lake Trout from the Dockside Fish Market(summer and fall only).

Superior, Wisconsin, appears just far enough away from Madison that it remains out of the clutches of Wisconsin’s nuttier than a fruitcake governor Scott Walker.

Sven & Oles Frozen Pizza Review
Sven & Ole's on Urbanspoon
Sven & Ole’s Frozen Pizza Review

Pizza Domenica Review New Orleans

Pizza Domenica Review

The Old Wood Pile

New Orleans used to be such an awful pizza town when I lived there; now, post Katrina, there are 50% more restaurants than before the storm, despite a smaller population, and there is food of every ilk available and much of it superb.  Including pizza.   My favorite pizza pre the influx of new comers was at the Bucktown seafood restaurant R&O, pretty standard pizza.

I had always meant to get to the parent restaurant of this place, Domenica, domiciled in the Roosevelt Hotel (nee Fairmont, nee Roosevelt) a block off Canal.  They have a spectacular happy hour, so spectacular, there is rarely a seat, so I was delighted they opened this smaller, pizza-centric version in Uptown on Magazine.

If you’re visiting, you can easily hit this eatery a few blocks walk off the St. Charles street car.

The short menu includes some appetizer and salad options, specialty pizzas, or create your own.   We over ordered, with one pizza, a salad, and garlic knots, chicken liver pate, along with a sampling of dipping sauces (salsa verde, garlic fonduta, and arrabbiata). (arrabbiata is a slightly spicy tomato sauce, and fonduta is cheese based dip).

I had assumed (I follow a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy at pizzerias) that the pizzas would be smaller, but they weren’t.  Went with their all carnivore region, and if you’re even a semi regular reader, you know I’m damned fussy about pizza, and I have to pronounce this one of the best I have ever had, anywhere.

What I liked about it, was quality ingredients (toppings) and the wonderfully smoky flavor imparted by the wood burning oven.  The crispy exterior crust leads to a melt in your mouth center.  My only curiousity was the cubes of Italian sausage, as I’ve ever seen that.  I have to imagine they cook sausages in casings and dice it themselves.

Quality ingredients ruled the menu,  and we enjoyed everything we tried.  Sat at the bar and service was great.  The bar fronts the wood pile, and I imagine they go through a lot of it.

If I lived in NOLA again, this would be my “go to pie,” bar none, all the time.

Pizza Domenica Review

Caesar Salad

 

Pizza Domenica Review

Dipping Sauces

Pizza Domenica Review

Delicious Garlic Knots

Pizza Domenica Review

All Meat Pie

 

 

 

Menu online.
Pizza Domenica on Urbanspoon
Pizza Domenica Review

Little Caesars Bacon Crust Pizza Review

Little Caesar Bacon Crust ReviewA million years ago, I owned a business in Iowa, and every Friday nite, my key employee, his wife and baby would come over to our house, where we’d fire up a movie on the 7′ Sony big screen, and order a couple of pizzas from Little Caesars.  At the time, LC’s “gimmick” was you got two pizzas in a single package for a reduced price.   It wasn’t particularly good, or bad, per se, the incentive was simply the two-fer, and we could have a pizza for each couple with their respective choice in toppings.

Today, the major chains are all about dazzling us with flavor combos as an attempt to retain our business in light of upstarts offering higher quality ingredient pies with an even wider variety of toppings.  Over the past ten years, the industry has progressed from “butter brushed” crusts, to cheese-stuffed, and now….you name your poison, whether it’s a salted pretzel crust or siracha kissed, or a dozen things in between, one or the other of the chains has got a pie to lure you in.

The latest offering from Little Caesars, in their “hot and ready” program (a selection of pies is always ready, you don’t have to call and order), is the ‘bacon-wrapped” crust deep dish.  Actually two smaller square pies, with every piece boasting a corner edge, and the ad copy claiming “three and a half feet of bacon” on every pie.

The standard “hot and ready” version comes topped with pepperoni.

I have to admit, I’m not a real fan of LC’s, it’s just not a very exciting pizza, and I’m never really a fan of deep dish.  But of course, I owed it to you to try the new bacon crust.   It goes for $12, whereas their ‘regular’ hot and ready deep dish is $8, and their always available regular hot and ready pizzas are $5 each.

Although you can order the bacon-wrapped pie during any opening hour, it flips into “hot and ready” status at 4 PM.

So how was it?

A mess of processed pork on a buttery-flavored crispy deep dish crust.  It wasn’t terrible. While I will never figure out how they get the bacon to stick to the edge of the crust, I don’t have to, I just have to marvel at it, and enjoy the smoky porcine taste in every bite.

Ordinarily I’d say, because of the “value,”  Little Caesars is a good way to feed a gaggle of kids, cheaply and quickly, but if you’re concerned about their nutritional intake, best skip the bacon crust, which must clock in at a ton of “too much” in the nutritional info, tho it is not listed on the company’s website.  Their regular pepperoni deep dish offers you 400 calories per slice, nearly half from fat calories, 670 g of sodium and 41 carbs.  So you can amp up the fat and sodium when you add the bacon.

I don’t have to watch my girlish figure anymore, so I enjoyed it, and might even get it again, but I think it is an LTO, so you will have to watch for availability.

The only downside with the one I purchased, as evidence from the photos, is the oven was apparently a little over enthusiastic – lots of char on this sucker.

Little Caesar Bacon Crust Review

As presented in box

 

Little Caesar Bacon Crust Review

Close up to show bacon crust

 

 

 

Little Caesars Bacon Crust Pizza Review

P’Mos Pizza Review

 

P'Mos Pizza Review

Packaging

The pizza makin’ elves at Milwaukee’s Palermo Pizza are at it again.  Fresh on the success in recent years of their Screamin’ Sicilian brand, here comes their take on a “pub style” pizza, under the name of P’mos.  In addition to writing about “Screamin,” I’ve also written about Palermo’s history and their “classic” brand.

I will be the first to admit I’m not really sure what “pub style” pizza is supposed to be like, unless they are referring to pizzas found in bars –  many of the frozen pizza lines hatched out of Wisconsin and Minnesota got their start being sold only in bars.  The pizza manufacturer would supply the drinking establishment with a small counter top oven, and sell them frozen pies to bake on demand for their customers.  Luckily the interwebs knows all, the it appears that one might define “pub pizza” as “born on Chicago’s south side as an alternative to Chicago’s traditional deep dish, with a cracker thin crust, sweeter sauce, a little more salt, and cut into squares instead of triangular slices.”  Alrighty then.  Palermo’s marketing pitch for the line is “Palermo’s took Pub Style pizza to a new level starting with a crispy thin crust made to highlight the hand selected toppings. Each of the P’MOs varieties is over loaded with fresh ingredients and smothered in
rich Mozzarella cheese.”

This is certainly the era of new “styles” of pizza, what with Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Little Caesar’s leading the way with myriad new crust options.  Yesterday, Little Caesars announced a “bacon wrapped” crust.  Pizza Hut has come up with all sorts of disgusting flavor combinations for its crust, like “honey-siracha” or some such.   If the chains were making one for me, I think I’d have to go for “bacon wrapped cheese stuffed pretzel crust.”  That’d be over the top.

I picked up the sausage variety of P’Mos, my local grocery had stocked four varieties:  cheese, pepperoni, sausage and supreme.  Not present was the “Combination,” which is topped with both sausage and pepperoni.  My recollection is the price point was $7 or north of that, making it a competitor in the range of their own Screamin’ Sicilian, and other “premium” frozen pies.  This is in contrast to the classic Palermo pies, which I have purchased for as little as 6 for $10, incredibly cheap.

Removing the wrapper, I am impressed with the appearance of the ‘shaved’ cheese, instead of sprinkled, has the possibility of providing a nice melt.  I am hopeful that the sausage will be as good as the large chunks found on the “Screamin” line, although they are smaller.  Cheese is listed as the first ingredient on the label, which is encouraging.  A typo on the ingredient list (a missing ‘paren’ mark) makes it difficult to tell you all of the ingredients in the sausage, but they start out with an all pork and herb/spice mix.  There is none of the dreaded “mechanically separated poultry” in the meat.  Whew.

While I usually tell you where the pizza was made, according to the USDA legend on the package,  this inspection sticker bears no plant number, and the reverse label says “distributed by Palermo,” which could well mean manufacturing is contracted out to a plant not owned by the company.

Baking instructions are middle shelf, 400, 14-18 minutes.

I popped mine out at 17.  The pizza lives up to the internet definition stated above, with a thin ‘cracker like’ crust, sweeter sauce.  Lots of cheese for a frozen pie, real cheese with nice “pull.”  The sausage is extremely mild.  I personally like my Italian sausage heavy with fennel flavor.   In the end, this is a good frozen pie.  Top 5, in any case.  This one goes into my regular rotation when I am buying frozen pies.

But Palermo, suggestion?   Your ‘cracker crust’ is more like matzo than saltines, IMHO.  So how about a line of kosher certified pizzas?  There’s a segment for you.  You can call it “Lotza Mozza Matzo!!”

If you’ve a hankering for Chicago pizza, pub or deep dish, you can have it delivered right to your home, shop here.

 

P'Mos Pizza Review

Packaging

PMo's frozen pizza review

400 for 17 Minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P’Mos Pizza Review

Cento Pizza Sauce Review

Cento Pizza Sauce ReviewI’m always scouring the grocery shelves for pizza ingredients I haven’t tried before;  this week it is Cento brand.  I have previously tried a number of competitors, including Pastorelli, Mutti, and one of my usuals, Contadina in a squeeze bottle.

Cento was founded in 1963 in the city of brotherly love, initially as an importer of Italian products.  If you’ve never cruised the old-timey Italian restaurants in Philly, you’ve missed out.  About 20 years later, they started putting out products under their own name.  They have a very deep line of tomato products, whole, crushed, seasoned, paste and so on.

On the website, they tout their tomato products are fresh picked from the vine, and some are the highly regarded San Marzanos from Italy, but there is no reference to whether this includes the pizza sauce.  The ingredients on the sauce label are straightforward: water, tomato concentrate, olive oil, salt, basil, black pepper, garlic powder.

I like it for two reasons, it has a slight acidic taste (which is natural for tomatoes), is not cloyingly sweet like many competitors who add sweeteners to their recipe, and it has a heft/thickness that appeals to me for putting on my pies.  More appealing than the watery  sauces.  Objection?  It’s a 15 oz can, which is way more than one needs for a single pizza, maybe they could do the squeeze bottle thing like Contadina?  Then I’d be a regular.

Cento pizza sauce review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cento Pizza Sauce Review

Sals Pizza Coupons

Sal’s Pizza Coupons

Here are some Sal’s Pizza Coupons from Algonquin, IL.   I love Sal’s.   The coupons were a mail item, but they do not say whether or not they accept anything but originals.  Should be ok.  If they are not, it’s not my fault. LOL . Click on image for full size.  Sal’s Review.  Sal’s Menu.

Sals Pizza Coupons Algonquin

GrubHub Review

GrubHub ReviewGrub Hub, a restaurant delivery service, started in Chicago in 2004, and through a series of acquisitions, has become the nation’s premier restaurant delivery company, representing eateries in 800 US cities and London, England.

They own a few other sites, seamless.com, allmenus.com and menupages.com.

About 30,000 restaurants are represented in their online and mobile apps. Peruse the choices available in your area, order food, pay, wait for delivery.

The operation hires car and bicycle delivery persons, who use their own vehicles and are compensated from delivery fees (paid to GrubHub by restaurant ‘partners’), with a minimum guarantee.  I wonder how their income compares to Uber and Lyft drivers?  Will services like GrubHub be hurt if Uber goes big into delivery?

There are a lot of competitors in this segment, I’ve used a number of them, with Delivered Dish being the one I have the most experience with (and absolutely no complaints).

The other day, I tried GrubHub for the first time, I have looked at it before, but in the area I am ordering from, they didn’t have a very deep selection of restaurants, and they ones they do have, I could just as easily call direct and save a few bucks. Though I do prefer ordering online, as there seems to be less mistakes made in orders, in my experience.

How it happened that I did try GrubHub was that I was sitting around, bored to tears, playing with my phone and looked at their phone app.

Low and behold, and totally weird, there were different restaurants offered on the app than I had seen on the website. My first thought was they had added these restaurants, but checking the website, the ‘new’ ones still weren’t listed.

Intrigued, I ordered a pizza through the phone app, paid, received an estimated delivery time about an hour ahead, and waited for the delivery dude or dudette, who, in reality, showed up ahead of the scheduled time.

My ‘feigned consternation’ about the different listings motivated me to inquire (via Twitter) to GrubHub and ask “what the deal was?”

Which led to a series of D.M.s that didn’t produce a satisfactory answer, the end result of which was that the listings should be the same on both sites.

One clue was produced, however, as to why the difference may occur. Apparently, their algorithms treat searches differently, depending on whether or not you enter your address for a search, or allow your geolocation software take over. Not sure why.  If there’s a problem here, it might be because we have all experienced the inaccuracies of online mapping at one time or another.

So woe be to the restaurant owner which might actually be closer to you than one the software picks.

As part of the relationship, GrubHub provides research to restaurants, information that they glean from their customers ordering habits, including food trends, time of day, price point averages and so on. Pretty valuable info, actually.

In theory, GrubHub’s ad budget should increase local restaurant sales, and their in-house technology should improve restaurant operations. They don’t seem to have a very high turnover of restaurant customers, so most must be satisfied with the service.

As was I.

I’d use them again, but I would hope there would be more restaurant choices in my area in the future, and synchronization of the listings between the site and app. I also noticed they list at least one restaurant in my area that has been out of business for some time, which indicates there might not be enough follow up between the sales staff and partner restaurants.

Of course, since GrubHub deals with thousands of restaurants and as many delivery people, your results may vary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GrubHub Review

Pizza Hut China Recollection

pizza-hut-01When I was living and working in Guangzhou, (Canton) China, Pizza Hut and KFC were some of the first western food outlets to open in the city.

My Chinese colleagues regularly enjoyed taking me to their own local favorite restaurants and squealing in delight as they’d make me sample traditional fare – including bugs, rodents,  snakes, dog, cat, offal, blood, bile, camel, bear, monkey and more.

“Revenge” seemed the order of the day, so knowing that the Chinese (or at least Cantonese) had no palate for cheese, I would, on occasion, take them to the Sunday buffet at one of the local 5 star western style hotels, where “we’d” have great fun with the dessert cheese platters, featuring fine Roqueforts, Stilton, Limburger and more.

After the first bite, my colleagues almost felt they were being punished for some wicked infraction, as their faces curled up, followed by an occasional tear or two at the mere taste of these fine imported dairy products.

Yum Brands apparently knew about the cheese aversion, because the first Pizza Hut menus referred to “Melted Topping” on the pizzas. This is pizza hut3apparently not the case any more, as noted with this clip from a current Chinese menu.

Apparently gone are the days when the “American special pizza,” across Europe and Asia, meant a sprinkling of sweet corn kernel on the pie.

(Not as bad as the first “American” pizza I had in Shenzhen, China, which was bits of seafood with thousand island instead of tomato sauce. Ugh.)

Location or language aside, my Chinese employees loved going to Pizza Hut for the entirely new thing of the “salad bar,” which to them, presented not an option for a meal starter or addendum, but rather a challenge as to their architectural and construction skills, in seeing how high they could pile a plate with just one trip.

The local manager put a stop to this by positioning a soldier near the bar, happy to issue a stink eye at any offenders. And more likely, it was actually a relative in military uniform.

It was a fun and interesting time to be a westerner in China, there weren’t many of us, and we worked, played, lived and loved with a passion and curiosity unsurpassed since.

 

Salad Bar Tower

Salad Bar Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza Hut China

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