By Mark Huerta
You keep asking for it, so I keep eating it. As a pizzaphile and your Stanford Daily pizza critic, I enjoy indulging in the best pizza spots in the area. This time I am taking on pizza joints in the nearby cities of Menlo Park and Redwood City, expanding beyond my Palo Alto origins.
The rules of pizza review are universally understood: a 10/10 pizza is a pizza I would fly around the world to eat. A 9/10 is worth driving several hours for, and an 8/10 is worth the equivalent of a drive into San Francisco. A 5/10 refers to simply average pizza, whereas a 1/10 would be physically inedible.
So, I am back by popular demand. Here are three more pizza reviews of local pizza joints.
This Menlo Park spot on Alameda de las Pulgas serves up what can only be described as children’s birthday party pizza. The abundance of cheese on the pie gives it an overall dehydrated quality. The pizza also has a somewhat funky taste to it, a symptom of their usage of “aged mozzarella.” The dough is on the fluffier side, but this is not a bad thing per se, as there is a crispy and charcoaled crust to complement the pillowy interior. The pizza has nice structural integrity and is not floppy at all. The sauce is lacking in flavor, and it belongs in the slightly chunky sphere, missing the smoothness of an even puree. The pizza is a bit greasy, probably as a result of the aged mozzarella. The atmosphere of the restaurant is interesting: it mostly offers take-out with a few tables for eating. Overall, this pizza is most reminiscent of Costco pizza, which is high-quality for pizza on the go from a supermarket. But Avanti forces you to pay a much higher price and go specifically to the restaurant for this kind of pizza.
Price: $15 for a 14’’ pizza
No one outpizzas The Hut, or so claims the marketing of this national chain. But does their location on Middlefield Road in Menlo Park live up to this reputation? Pizza Hut’s pizza is known for having a much thicker crust and dough than its competitors. While this would generally mean bready, soft pizza, the pie I ate has a nice crunch. But that is not to say that this pie is a cracker. There is a nice fluffiness to every bite. The slices have a little flop, which is nice in contrast to the crispiness of the bottom crust. There is nice leopard-spotting on the cheese, which is good, solid pizza cheese. The pie has a very sweet sauce, but not in a distracting way. No dine-in is available at this location, which neighbors a gas station. Sticker prices promoted on the website can be quite high, but coupons and other deals can be easily found online to reduce the price.
Price: $18.35 for two medium pizzas, with a 2-for-1 deal on the website
Chuck E. Cheese
This national chain, “where a kid can be a kid,” has an outpost on El Camino Real in Redwood City. While the pizza at this kid’s birthday party locale is much maligned by online critics who claim the restaurant recycles uneaten pizza from table to table, the pie they made was good. The sauce is gently seasoned with Italian herbs and is just a tad bit sweet, and the puree of the tomato blend is smooth. The pizza is exactly the kind of pizza I would want to eat on a lazy Sunday while watching football or attending a five-year-old’s birthday party. The dough of the pizza is moderately crunchy and under-aerated, while the edge of the crust is dusted in too much bottled parmesan cheese. A warning, perhaps: the pie has slices of drastically different slices. Still, this is a solid pie. But let’s be real: you’re not going to Chuck E. Cheese just for the pizza. You’re going for the experience of taking a picture with an animatronic rat, dancing the “Cha-Cha Slide” while waiting for your pizza and trying to get lucky at the arcade. The pizza is nothing to write home about, but experiencing Chuck E. Cheese is something that all people should do.
Rating: 6/10 for the pizza (the whole experience is a 7/10)
Price: $20.99 for a large pizza