Pizza-Chain Taste Test
We subjected the guys from Fortina to some of the craziest mass-market pies we could find
Cheese? Check. Sauce? Check. Grease? Definitely, check.
Photos by Andrew Dominick
Amidst all the county’s great artisanal pizzerias and classic slice shops, you’ll also find plenty of fast-food chains. We invited Christian Petroni and John Nealon of Fortina to swing by our office and try four of the craziest pies from Papa John’s, Domino’s, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut, and share with us what was palatable and what just tastes really, really bad.
Papa John’s Tuscan Six Cheese
An authentic blend of Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Fontina, Provolone, and 100-percent real cheese made from Mozzarella.
Complete with Garlic Butter.
Christian: "It’s okay. I’m never super excited when the balance between cheese and sauce is heavier on the cheese and lighter on the sauce. But it’s definitely 100-percent passable. On a Friday night after dinner service when we’re starving, if somebody brought this to me, I’d be very happy. I think the garlic butter is the savior here, because it needs some lubrication."
John: "It’s all about the garlic butter. It’s genius. We screwed around with garlic butter at one point."
Christian: "It tastes like real cheese, which is impressive. I wasn’t expecting that. If you look at the crust, you see cell structure; you see holes. You can tell that there’s life in there. There was yeast, and they allowed it to rise before they cooked it."
The Verdict: 5/10 (6.5 with the garlic butter)
Domino’s Fiery Hawaiian
Sliced ham, smoked bacon, pineapple, roasted red peppers, hot sauce, jalapeños, and mozzarella cheese on a cheesy Parmesan crust
Christian: "I don’t love it as much as I love the Philly cheesesteak pie or the classic with extra sauce and onions, which is my go-to."
John: There’s too much stuff. You’re really only getting some of the onion, but the peppers kind of get lost. You definitely taste the pineapple, but it’s a big flavor. And you definitely get that heat."
Christian: "The ham might as well not even be there. The dough is not as complex or proofed as the other one. This is all very dense and saturated, but I believe this crust is brushed with butter."
The Verdict: 5/10
Little Caesars Bacon-Wrapped Deep-Dish Pizza
Eight-corner deep-dish pizza wrapped in more than three-and-a-half feet of thick-cut, crispy bacon and then topped with pepperoni and even more chewy pieces of savory bacon
John: "That looks dope. I don’t even care."
Christian: "This is so right up your alley, dude."
John: "The bottom is beautifully consistent."
Christian: I mean, look at that. That’s to be commended. We just started doing Sicilians [at Fortina Surf Club in Stamford], and that golden brown is one of the hardest things for my cooks to achieve properly. It’s got that caramelized crust."
John: "Bacon’s pretty weak."
Christian: "I don’t like this."
John: "The cheese on the bottom didn’t get cooked enough."
Christian: "If you compare this to the Papa John's, this is super-duper processed cheese and hyper-processed meat."
John: "This is such a dude-marketed pie. Some jerk is sitting at home watching TV and he’s like, ‘Yo bro. It’s wrapped in bacon, man.’"
Christian: "The dough’s okay. It’s fluffy."
John: "If you tear off bits of bacon from the bottom, it’s kind of tasty."
Christian: "I think I like the red sauce better on this one than on the Papa John's."
John: "I like the box: ‘Voted Best Value in America 7 Years in a Row.’ I never got that ballot."
The Verdict: 3/10
Pizza Hut BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger
Barbecue sauce topped with classic beef, applewood-smoked bacon, fresh red onions, and diced Roma tomatoes—flavored up with toasted cheddar on the crust and a barbecue-sauce drizzle.
John: "This meat is terrifying. This is the only pie I’ve been legitimately nervous about eating."
Christian: "Yeah. It looks like they’re trying the hardest with the fresh Roman tomatoes."
John: "Let me be blunt: That truly sucks."
Christian: "It tastes like armpit, bro. It tastes like what a busy bus in Rome at the height of the season smells like."
[Editor Interjects]: "Well, at least it’s Italian."
Christian: "That’s the closest they’ll get to f&*%ing Italy. Where’s that Papa John's?"
The Verdict: 1/10