Your favorite pizza sucks, my favorite pizza rules! (Part 3)


CHAINS.  I wanted to tackle the prominent area pizza chains for part 3.  (You read parts 1 & 2, right?) I’m really not supposed to eat pizza right now thanks to recently diagnosed GERD/Acid Reflux/Barret’s Esophagus, but I have eaten many pizzas from these many chains over the years.  I’m going to be extra picky about my pizza from now on.  I’ll probably stick with Slice on Broadway and Aiello’s.  But the event may come up where I need to pick a chain place again, and here’s where they fall…

Fox's Pizza Den on UrbanspoonFox’s (or Fox’s Pizza Den) is pretty good.  The different locations aren’t always consistent, but when you find a good one… stick with it!  I really dig the one in Bridgeville as of late, but the one closest to home is the one in Brookline.  I grew up on Fox’s in Murrysville, as it was the only place who would deliver to my house out in the boonies.  I don’t know if Fox’s recently revamped their UrbanSpoon profiles or what, but I know I’ve reviewed the one in Brookline, but it’s not there.  Their pages all seem to have little to no reviews or votes.  I remember going on & on about the wedgies.  In fact, I found it at another source

WedgieGimme a Wedgie!
It’s not the sick twisted fantasies of a nerd that likes being dominated by bullies…  It’s a call to order the best #%@$ing sandwich you’ve ever had.  It’s served up on a pizza crust instead of a bun.  How awesome is that?  The steak one is my favorite, but I’ve never seen one that doesn’t look appetizing.  Just make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins on hand.

Their pizza is pretty damn good too.  There was a Fox’s near where I grew up in the suburbs, but they never had a menu this vast.  I sometimes end up getting the fried zucchini or the potato wedges… but really can’t ever eat anything after finishing a whole wedgie.  In fact, my wife & I even sometimes just split one to avoid over-stuffing.  Ordering for delivery is usually the standard half hour to 45 min., and they’re usually there before they said they were going to be… so that’s a plus.  You can’t go wrong with Fox’s.

Vocelli Pizza (Dormont) on Urbanspoon

Vocelli Pizza is another one that must have purged old UrbanSpoon reviews.  There’s virtually nothing there.  I used to love Vocelli’s, even if they’re just named after a made up Italian sounding word.  The service at the local one went down hill, and this is what it used to say on UrbanSpoon:

I used to love this place, & would order quite frequently.  But, the last time we got a Buffalo chicken pizza, there was hair on it.  My wife called & told them, they said they’d send a coupon for a free one next time.  We never got any coupons, and were hungry for their food again… so I got a stromboli and the wife got a buffalo chicken pizza… and the pizza had hair on it again.  She found it (luckily) on the first bite.  So, she called the call center. She of course, didn’t eat any more, so we could show them.  The delivery boy showed up… was incredibly rude, didn’t look at the old pizza, and practically threw the new one at my wife.

I don’t know why he took it personally… I was gonna tip him for coming out the 2nd time because he didn’t put hair on the pizza… but with actions/service like that, they can shove it.  I always tried to tip well too, as we (used to) get pizza form there all the time.  This was enough to end it.  There’s plenty of other pizza shops around, apparently they don’t need our business, anyway.  Hair in a pizza once?  I can see it happening.  Twice within the span of a month or two?  That’s just absolutely ridiculous.

So… in closing, I’d say what used to be a great place has now sunken to a.) being filthy, and b.) having terrible customer service.

…but in all fairness, after a while we did go back & they seemed to have weeded out the bad employees.  I’ve also tried their artery-clogging Alfredo sauce on a pizza, and loved it.  My triglycerides did not.  I do like Vocelli’s normal sauce, and they generally make a consistent pie & decent subs.  If you’re ordering for a crowd, I’d say Vocelli Pizza is an across-the-board crowd-pleaser.

Vocelli Pizza

''Vocelli?'' Sure, that sounds Italian enough!

Papa John's Pizza on UrbanspoonPapa John’s rules with their online ordering.  The sauce isn’t quite as good as Vocelli’s, but they do always give you the tasty garlic dipping sauce and a Peperoncini.  They do rock as far as consistency.  You know what you’re getting every time.  I wish they had subs, I always like to get subs… especially turkey, or sometimes you’re in the mood for a pizza-shop Italian sub.  But then again, maybe they just want to focus on pizza & doing it well.  Check out these amusing blog posts about Papa John’s:

Little Caesars Pizza on UrbanspoonLittle Caesar’s, what the hell happened?  When I was a young lad, we would pickup a pizza after we left Network Video (a place where you rented VHS tapes for the kids out there), we’d pop into Little Caesar’s for what I think was called a Bigfoot… two big-ass square pizzas side by side?  I’d always want breadsticks, because I have an unnatural love for carbs.  I was sad when Little Caesar’s all but disappeared and was relegated to Kmart stores for some strange reason.  When there was a recent resurgence, and a subsequent person paid to stand on West Liberty Ave. and sling a Little Caesar’s sign… I was excited.  We tried the new incredibly cheap pies one night… and they were terrible.  The sauce is definitely much more bitter than I remember, and perhaps in my old age I forgot about all the grease that adorns (soaks) their crust.  I still like the breadsticks, and $5 is pretty good for the amount that they give you, but $5 of crap is still crap.  If I’m in the mood for punishment, need an immediate meal, and it’s a week where I need to pay for dinner with couch change, I may go back.

Cici's Pizza - Bridgeville on UrbanspoonCiCi’s ought to change the name to CaCa’s.  I’ve only ever been there once, but that’s all I need.  Wow.  It was like eating wax & tomato soup spread out over crackers.  Who cares if it’s cheap and all-you-can-eat when it’s absolutely terrible nutrition?  My high school cafeteria served better pizza, and even better pizza imitation food.  I think there was a salad bar, and an unholy “mac n’ cheese” pizza.  I don’t remember much other than the dried crusty partial pies getting tanned under the hot lights and maybe even someone shouting a welcome when we walked in.  I just wanted to leave but had paid and tried to just stay & eat my few dollars worth.  CiCi’s won that day.  There’s no way I had eaten more of that crap than hat I paid for.

Pizza Hut on UrbanspoonPizza Hut causes me great gastrointestinal distress.  Every few years, I forget and enter a Pizza Hut thinking “ah, it wasn’t that bad”.  Yes, yes it is.  Perhaps I hit an age long ago where Pizza Hut was no longer compatible with my intestines.  Perhaps I was really slow to learn the pattern.  We didn’t do Pizza Hut too much when I was growing up.  Maybe I never built up a tolerance/immunity.  The pizza itself isn’t bad, I’ve had the personal pan, the normal pies, a few lunch buffets… they generally have a good crust & good flavor… albeit greasy.  It’s just that their pie unleashes itself like an assault team on my digestive system.  The one in Greentree is the last one that I visited.  The service was slow, and I didn’t feel welcomed at all.  Hopefully it steels my resolve to skip Pizza Hut in the future.

Pizza Hut Maze

A letter within a maze, for my pals at Pizza Hut. (They never did write back!)

I’ve dealt with Pizza Hut many times in the past…

Ridiculous.

Avoid the Noid

Avoid the Noid!

I know I missed Domino’s, but I was never impressed with their pies… and there’s never one around where I’m ordering.  I did like the Noid commercials back in the day though.  I haven’t tried their revamped pies.  I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

Did I miss your favorite chain pizza?  Did I miss your most reviled?

Take the poll, it’s only open for a week!

Pizza Hut’s Intestinal Warfare


If you’ve ever heard me on the subject of Pizza Hut, it all boils down to this…  Pizza Hut = Gastrointestinal Distress.  I have no idea why.  I’ve heard the same thing from many other people when the subject is raised.  I know I’ve gotten into it on facebook not too long ago too.  I enjoy plenty of other pizzas from other chains & from the local shops, all with no digestional discomfort.

I wrote to Pizza Hut a long time ago… and this is all I had to say…

Hello Fine Friends at Pizza Hut,

Contrary to the belief held by your delicious pizzas, my intestines are not a waterslide.  Can you please instruct the   to not use my digestive system as a waterslide park?  It would be very much appreciated!

Gotta go!
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Well, their answers back then were quite dissatisfying, and when I contacted them again via snail mail, my query went wholly unanswered.

Perhaps that’s why I waged another campaign of emails with a vengeance.  I looked up several Pizza Hut and Yum! Brands executives online, found the syntaxt of their respective companies’ email addresses, and fired off a few notes… as well as filled out the webform once or twice or so.

from ERiC AiXeLsyD world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
to Scott.Bergren@yum.com
date Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 8:28 AM
subject Intestinal Warfare?
mailed-by gmail.com

Hello,

This isn’t about a specific incident, but a general observation.  There was nowhere in the webform to indicate that, so I had to seek out some email addresses. I find it quite rude that there’s no general inquiry area, or a contact email address.

As for the purpose of my missive…

I would like to know why your pizza treats my intestines like a water park.  Every time I enjoy your delicious slices of pie, I feel like I have swallowed a hurricane that’s trying to escape via my …well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

I can assure you that I’m not lactose intolerant, but perhaps I’m allergic to something in your sauce or pie?  I don’t seem to have this problem with any other pizza places… chains or local.

Have any other customers written to you regarding gastrointestinal distress of any sort?  My cousin who works in a Pizza Hut in Ohio swears that they use a different sauce there, devoid of the same effects.

Thanks for your time!
-ERiC

Pizza Hut Allergen InformationThe email address experiment seemed to be to no avail.  I’ve either been blocked by IT, spam filters, or wholly ignored.  But, it looks like I did get a bite off of the webform…

from Dave Kronenwetter Davekronenwetter@aurorahuts.com
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
cc Ed Holt edholt@aurorahuts.com
date Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 9:16 AM
subject Pizza Hut Incident Eric Aixelsyd
mailed-by aurorahuts.com

Dear Mr. Aixelsyd,

I was sorry to hear about your experience at the local Pizza Hut. Let me assure you that the ingredients used here in Pennsylvania are the same quality ingredients that are used throughout the country. In most cases our ingredients come from the same suppliers. The following website lists possible allergen & sensitive ingredients : http://www.pizzahut.com/Files/pdf/Updated%20PH%20Allergen%20List%2004.17.09.pdf This website includes our nutritional information: http://www.pizzahut.com/Files/PDF/Pizza%20Hut%20Nutrition%20Info%2010.12.09.pdf. Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions you may have and I will handle them personally

Sincerely,
Dave Kronenwetter

Area Coach
Aurora Huts LLC
412-897-6775
davekronenwetter@aurorahuts.com

Interesting.  Well, at least now I have two good contacts… but perhaps my query will take a more serous and inquisitive turn.

Upon viewing the interesting pdf linked to by Mr. Kronenwetter, I see that a bunch of items there are marked “prepared in common equipment and therefore may contain allergens” in the shellfish column.  I’m not sure exactly why this is, because I don’t recall any shellfish on the Pizza Hut menu, and especially since the items marked are oddly random and specific…  Garlic Parmesan wings, and no others… three different pizza sauces… 3 of the 4 Tuscani pastas, and breadsticks.

I can only assume that these things arrive at Pizza Hut pre-made, and may come into contact with potential allergens at the manufacturing/processing/packaging facility?  Oh well, perhaps I can figure out a way to address this in a goofy manner, yet still yield some positive and enlightening results.  I know that many people suffer from the pizza hut digestion demon, and I really hope it’s not just some sanitary/kitchen issues.

Perhaps this too must move into snail mail territory.  For some reason, most companies seem to treat a real live letter with more respect than an email.

Yum!ballsI thought of Yum! Brands today as we watched Spaceballs…  In the characters Kernel Sandurz and Pizza the Hutt – both now Yum! Brands brands.  Would it be wrong of me to write to them and tell them that Mel Brooks is working on a new special edition of Spaceballs with more scenes, digitally inserted characters and creatures, and better re-vamped special effects… and that they’d like to include more Yum! Brands characters… like Captain Long John Silver and Taco Bell, and some droid sidekicks, A & W?