Product Reviews for Pizza Hut and Domino's

[reprinted from my blog]

Recently I had the chance to check out new products from Pizza Hut and Domino's. I thought I would give little mini-reviews

Pizza Hut - Tuscani Oven-Baked Pasta

Everyone has seen the commercials. Fancy hip New Yorkers in some swanky restaurant for an exclusive "tasting" party, only to discover that--Surprise!--the pasta came from Pizza Hut. It's a great commercial because we get to laugh at New Yorkers, and it makes the pasta seem special and therefore desirable.

(Although: PH has now had three separate launches of pasta varieties. At some point you'd think people in Manhattan would quit being taken in by the same gimmick we all saw on TV! It's getting so bad that any day now a posse of Minnesotans are going to show up to bilk the New Yorkers out of all their cash.)

When Pizza Hut first introduced their new pasta, they had two choices: Creamy Chicken Alfredo, and Meaty Mariana. Later they brought out Premium Bacon Mac 'N Cheese, and just recently you could get Lasagna.

My first foray was the Alfredo, which I tried on January 20th, which happened to be the Inauguration. (Read the possibly racist comment the driver said, and what I think about it .)

My first thought was that it didn't appear to be nearly as much food as on TV. They claim 3 pounds, but the silver tray wasn't full, that is for sure. That said, it was delicious. the sauce was tangy, thick, and just a tiny bit sour, which I like in an Alfredo, to cut the richness. The pasta didn't feel overcooked, and I like PH chicken topping, which this was. Dipping breadsticks was even better, as they soaked up the creamy sauce and tasted even better than normal. And bear in mind, I had my pasta AFTER wolfing down half a Stuffed Crust pizza; extra points in my book.

The second time was a few days ago, when we got Lasagna. Now, like all people with a soul, I love lasagna. It's one of nature's perfect foods. I love a lot of different lasagnas, too. It's not like meatloaf, where you love your mom's but out in the world you can't predict when a meatloaf will be passable, and when you will light yourself on fire.

One of the best parts about lasagna is that it tastes just as good (and sometimes better) when you reheat it. This was my situation. I was asleep when the rest of the crowd ate, so I had to nuke my portion.

It was not a good experience. Again, the "look" of the product bothered me. I'm not questioning the three pounds advertised (I didn't weigh it, but I have no reason to believe they are making that up), but the lasagna did not even come up halfway on the aluminum tray. When you get lasagna at the store, it comes up all the way to the top.

More importantly, the taste was rubbery. The sauce was decent (how could it not be?), but the middle layer of lasagna pasta was stretchy and the ricotta tasted dehydrated. Also, there were very few layers. Maybe that's a personal thing, but I like my lasagna nice and thick.

It's only fair to point out that I talked to Carlos, who tried the lasagna as well, and he loved it. This could mean that it simply doesn't reheat well, or possibly that I just got a bad batch. (Jerrica was totally unimpressed as well, but maybe she's spoiled like I am.)

But here is the kicker: unlike the other pastas, which we got for $10.99, the Lasagna is $15. That's a lot of money, and when you consider that Stouffer's makes a GIANT version for around $10-12 that is AWESOME and very filling, I can't see very paying for this. True, you have to buy the Stouffer's yourself, and it takes two hours to cook. Still: you want lasagna, you make some sacrifices.

DOMINO'S - Oven-Baked Sandwiches

Any time we ever order delivery it's always Pizza Hut or Papa John's. Maybe things have changed, but my memory of Domino's pizza is such that I was in no hurry to see if they figured out how to cook anything.

Once again, enter Carlos. The Wolf-cat used to work with me at Pizza Hut, and currently runs a Papa John's. He knows pizza, and he eats it all the time. But Carlos started raving about the Domino's oven-baked sandwiches a month ago, and he has not shut up about it since.

Every time I would talk to him Carlos would ask if I had tried the oven-baked sandwiches, and sometimes he'd call with a new coupon deal he'd found that I could use. (Domino's has a deal for two oven baked sandwiches and a large one-topping pizza for $20. They also have a deal for one sandwich and a small pizza for $9, so Carlos figured he would order two of those and save $2. This led to a conversation about comparing diameter to area in circles, which is fascinating in its own right, but off-topic, so remind me and we can go over it another time.)

"It's the bread," Carlos raved. It's so good. It's better than Arby's or Subway."

Them's serious words. Carlos knows how I feel about sandwiches, and Arby's and Subway have been producing some great ones. It was his passion that finally convinced me. My sister ordered two different sandwiches for me to try (there are four total.)

Actually, I'd like to point out that in all of these tasting adventures, Jerrica paid. She is an incredibly generous person, and deserves a big shout-out.

Also-not for nothing--but the non-sandwich portion was messed up, including Jerrica's food. I have emailed Domino's, and am giving them one more day to contact her, else I'll be back here soon raising hell (and I saved my letter to them, for your enjoyment).

Domino's offers a Chicken Bacon Ranch, a Chicken Parm, a Philly Cheese-steak, and an Italian. (For what it's worth, Carlos says the Chicken Bacon Ranch is a dud.) I went with the Chicken Parm and the Philly--minus the awful onions, peppers and mushroom, and plus black olives. (I'd have added green olives too if they'd had any. It totally baffles me why anyone would want vomit-inducing onions, evil mushrooms and slimy peppers on a cheesesteak when you can have two kinds of olives! Some people....)


Dude, it was the bread. I guess having that giant pizza oven really helps. If they are using a similar formula, maybe I need to try the pizza again, because these sandwiches were so good! The bread was soft and thick and yet not overpowering at all. There was a yeasty sweetness I could not get over. [JOKE REMOVED BY CENSOR BOARD]

The ingredients were good, too. My dad had half the Parm, and he was a big fan, and my mom had a third of the Philly, and was a convert. I would much rather have two of these sandwiches than a medium pizza any day.

Of course, what if Domino's refuses to make their transgressions right? Who wins then, my principles, or my raging hunger-lust? Tune in next time on "As the Food Burns."

(And if you have a food product you want me to review, send me the money and I will eat this food and write about it. What, you think I'm just made of money?)

And doesn't Jack Links have some new Jerky?

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