Spoiler: your nearest pizza joint is probably Pizza Hut

Every single other pizza place is independently owned.

Man I’m glad to hear you say that. That map paints a miserable picture of food in America.

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Wow, Nevada is a pizza desert. Also, Alaskans and Hawaiians are sad right now.

When I moved to New Jersey in the late 1970s, there weren’t any chain pizza places in my county; all the pizza places were family-owned. Three of them burned down that year, having apparently not kept the local Family happy. Eventually a Pizza Hut opened, but I could never understand why anybody went to it, when there were far better mom&pop places that were closer to almost anybody. (Maybe they were open on Sunday, which most of the indies weren’t, but that was about the only excuse I could see.)

Here in Silicon Valley, the closest two pizza places are indies (one might marginally count as a chain; it’s the original store, but I think the family opened a couple of others.)

  • There’s a chain called Mountain Mike’s that sells round flat pieces of bread with cheese and sauce on top, but I’d really hesitate to call them pizza (cheddar, really?)
  • Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria is a chain that does tolerably good pizza,
  • Pizza My Heart’s quite good, and
  • Round Table makes pizza that’s never great but is consistently acceptable.
  • Then there’s California Pizza Kitchen, if you need your Thai BBQ chicken pizza fix; it may not be authentic but they do a decent crust.
  • I don’t count Pizza’Chicago; Chicago pizza’s a perfectly nice food, but it’s not the same thing as pizza.

And nobody on the West Coast seems to have a clue what a good white pizza is (except one or two places in North Beach SF.) Ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, optional broccoli, oregano, no tomato sauce.

That it is true by area does not imply that it is true by population. No?

I remember going to Virginia for a conference and being told about a pizza place nearby that was supposed to be really really good … it was the worst pizza that I have ever had and I am a person who can be happy with pretty much any pizza brand (Little Caesars, Domino’s, DiGiorno, Red Baron, Freschetta, etc.). It seemed like they took a cooked cheese pizza that had been sitting on the counter for awhile, put the other toppings you wanted on it, and then stuck it in the oven for a few minutes. I wanted pepperonis and black olives, so I got pepperonis and whole black olives the size of small walnuts.

A side rant about ads:

I decided to do a Google Maps search of the pizza places near where I live to see how many were independent. I clicked on the location for Little Caesars and suddenly an ad for them appeared under the search box (I am using the “new” version of Google Maps). It blocks part of the map and gets bigger/smaller depending on where my cursor is. I disabled the “allow non-intrusive ads” option in AdBlock, but I still see a box (which contains the ad text depending on where my cursor is). I then searched for pizza in another city and saw an ad for Papa John’s Pizza within the map (which includes a box telling me it is an ad). So annoying …

Your average BoingBoing commenter is not your average American pizza eater. Pizza Hut is popular for Pizza on average just like Budwiser is popular for beer. The good news is that indie chains in most places are better as far as we’re concerned, and plentiful.

I have to admit, I like Pizza Hut. They always get my order right, and no one ever gives me grief about it. I can’t say my favorite local/independent place has the same record. (God, I just want a pizza without cheese with pepperoni and jalapenos and onions. I know you think that’s terrible and weird and lame, but please. Cheese causes me physical pain in any quantity bigger than a tablespoon.)

The physically closest thing to me a mediocre independent pizza joint, then Pizza Hut, then Papa Johns (which I can’t stand) and then my preferred local place. If other people are involved, we order from the good local place. If it is just me, I’ll order Pizza Hut.

HH = nasty. Also not the closest to my house. That honor belongs to Mr. Pizza. Our nearest PH closed I don’t know when (I just noticed it this past weekend that the building no longer had logos or signage).

Ah, national chains. That would be Domino’s, but their pizza sucks hard and Monaghan still gets coin from it, so they are never, ever ordered at our our house.

The nearest pizza joint to me is now a Pizza Depot. It used to be a (apparently, I never ordered pizza from there because it was like 2x the price of the Pizza Pizza around the corner, and I’m not that picky) fantastic independently owned place called Giovanni’s. But now they’re just another chain (albeit, a very small chain. I’d never heard of Pizza Depot until this one opened). They have tempting walk-in offers, and they’re right next to my kids’ daycare, so I’m tempted to give it a shot some time when I don’t feel like corporate, always-the-same-but-never-overly-terrible-or-fancy Pizza Pizza.

I don’t mind Pizza Hut, though the one near me isn’t run very well. I used to work at a Pizza Hut Delivery between 1988 and 1991, so I know what they’re capable of when the people who work there don’t run out of give-a-shit. As an employee, we were permitted one free Personal Pan Pizza per day, and I used to make mine differently. The Thin Crust dough is essentially saltine cracker dough without the salt, and I’m not a fan of thin-crust pizzas. But I would roll out a medium-size Thin Crust, then fold it over twice so it was 1/4 the diameter (but four times the thickness), stuff it into an empty Personal Pan, and apply my sauce, toppings and cheese. That was quite yummy, but I can’t get those anymore since I don’t work there anymore.

I’m an easy pizza audience. Generally speaking, the cheaper, the better. But my favorite is a Mom&Pop joint in La Cañada-Flintridge called Georgee’s. It’s a trifle overpriced, and the menu choices are utterly conventional, but goddamn is their pizza good.

When I’m at work and the people in the office want pizza, they order from Ciao Cristina, in part because it’s directly across the street from the studio. It’s even more overpriced, and their pizza toppings are… well, they offer this one:

Alle Zattere Pizza: Roasted Bosc Pears, Gorgonzola, Shaved Parmigiano Baby Wild Arugula without Pomarola

Maybe that sounds like a good pizza to some of you guys, but if so, you’re not me. My trailer-park-bred palate has no use for pears, artichokes, asparagus, or grilled Portobello mushrooms on a pizza.

What are your feelings on pineapple?

Warning: your answer may determine the fate of an Internet friendship.

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I have an Italian friend who considers the idea to be sacrilege.

I’m happy with any kind of pizza as long as there is dead pig on it. Otherwise I don’t see the point.

I’m ever so sorry, Jeff, but we’ve strolled down this lane before.

There is no place for tropical fruit on a pizza.

I’m gonna miss ya, buddy!

Oh, I see how it is.

Heretic scum!

I don’t like tropical fruit on my pizza either, but I do quite like good pears and I would certainly be intrigued enough to try that pizza - but in truth I’m sure I wouldn’t like it very much (definitely not a fan of green/leafy vegetables on pizza, for one thing).

I quite like pizza, and the cheaper the better does tend to be my philosophy as well.

As a kid we used to go to Pizza Hut. At the time, it was one of the few national chain restaurants in the Buffalo suburbs. It’s now an up-and-coming area with lots of chains (though they were mainly of the Applebees variety until the last year or so, when Chipotle and Trader Joe’s arrived).

Anyway, we went to Pizza Hut because I wasn’t (and am still not) a fan of Buffalo-style pizza. And I remember really liking the taste of the pepperoni slightly burnt around the edges, and I try to replicate that when making my own pizzas. Eventually my pickiness got overruled and we’d get pizza from the closest place, which is a local place. There are at least 6-7 local pizza places that are closer than the Pizza Hut (and no other national chains) - and they’re all pretty bad. So it’s no surprise to me that the Pizza Hut is still open.

I don’t think I’ve been to a Pizza Hut since then, actually. Even when I lived in Orange County, land of chain stores, there are lots of good local options (and also lots of Little Caesars, which is good for cheap pizza).

Me too, and I’m in the middle of town. It’s a canny big place, but the middle’s really small, and has cows in it and that.

I have to agree. For five bucks, the 12" “Hot & Ready” pepperoni is a steal, and it’s just greasy enough and salty enough to be satisfying. Each one probably takes a month off your life, but hey! Five bucks for lunch for two people is a rare first-world deal these days.

One of the several times I drove from CA to NY, I was in the suburbs outside of Chicago along the interstate and wanted some pizza, and there was a Little Caesars.

Needless to say, eating an entire hot & ready pepperoni pizza by yourself while driving is not a good idea, though Little Caesars pizzas are so easy to eat - they bite cleanly every time, and the sauce doesn’t drip. The greasiness and saltiness is very satisfying, except that after eating the whole pizza it made me feel disgustingly greasy and salty all over (though having not showered since departing from CA didn’t help). I feel greasy just thinking about it. Also I really want some pizza.

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Now that was one inevitable edit. I totally saw it coming!

Heh heh heh.

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