Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Domino's Pizza

Domino’s Pizza
2128 Rock Rd.
Desoto, MO

First: Why you shouldn’t always trust Wikipedia:


  We decided on this earlier in the week. There was a commercial on TV and we talked about how long it had been since any of us had a Domino’s Pizza.
I suggested that we give the place a best-shot test.
Rather than just order a couple of compromise pizzas as we usually do, I suggested, insisted that we would each order a pizza for ourselves.
A compromise pizza is when I agree to have whatever Angel wants rather than be picky about my own quaint, irrelevant, superfluous, personal preferences.
Angel likes lots of toppings on a thin crust.
Adam only likes a couple of toppings on a standard crust.
I like lots of toppings on a standard crust.
So the compromise is that we usually order Angel’s preference and Adam’s preference and I have some of each. I wanted my own pizza for this test.

The Place:
Located on Rock Road in Desoto, just a literal stone’s throw from Pizza Hut. Unlike PH, Domino’s does not have a dining area, it’s strictly a delivery/takeout place. We’ve never dined in at PH, but we have picked up pizzas there several times. Why we never thought to pick up at Domino’s is simply a mystery. The fact that they pretty much share the same parking lot plays a big role in our overall evaluation.
We are not in the delivery area, so pickup is the only option. We chose to live rural, so we do not begrudge the lack of delivery.

The Food:
Angel: A ‘Deluxe’ a thin crust with sausage, pepperoni, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives.
Adam: A three-topping ‘hand-tossed’ with pepperoni, bacon and olives.
Me: A Deluxe, hand-tossed, minus the mushrooms, added roasted red peppers and fetta cheese.
I like mushrooms okay, just not a lot of them. I had recently ordered a burger at Hardee's, and thought I’d ordered the single-best fast food burger in existence, the Frisco Thickburger. But I ordered a #3 combo instead of a # 5 and got the mushroom Swiss. They put too many mushrooms on the things, it’s pretty much all you can taste. SO I wasn’t in the mood for more mushrooms.
Angel called in the order, adding some cheesy bread sticks.  She has a nice, sultry phone voice and usually gets treated well on the phone. I on the other hand am told I come across as arrogant, angry, rude or dismissive, and get hung up on a lot. We complement each other well this way. She ordered, I delivered.  She was told our order would be ready in fifteen to twenty minutes, roughly the time it takes to get there from our compound.
On the way to Desoto I stopped at Queen’s, the grocery store in Hillsboro, to pick up some drinks. Angel wanted Diet Dr. Pepper, Adam wanted Pepsi. I scanned the aisles and saw RC Cola, which is my own preference, but compromised by splitting the Pepsi with Adam, I didn’t want very much. I also picked up a box of wine since we were running about a quart low at the house.
When I turned onto Rock Road I saw Domino’s, but it was so close to the corner that I had to pass it and pull in to the Pizza Hut parking lot and double back down the lot.
I walked in, the place was nothing but a counter in front of a pizza kitchen. Several assembly stations, bins of toppings, stacked ovens in the back, piles of pizza boxes everywhere. The place was packed floor to ceiling, like a submarine preparing to leave port.
Our order was ready, I paid up, took the boxes, set them in the front passenger seat of my disappointing and unimpressive chevy coupe. (Sounds better than ‘Cavalier’) The drive back to the house was heavenly. The aroma of pizza and the lilting voice of Emmylou Harris (she was the guest on Prairie Home Companion) and the fair weather made it not unpleasant at all.
I harked back. I’ve delivered pizzas professionally. In Rantoul Illinois back in the late 70’s, I was stationed at the now-closed Chanute AFB for a few months for training. We needed $450 cash to pay the court costs to adopt my beautiful and beloved daughter Leslye. My military pay kept us clothed, fed and housed, but $450 cash was quite a tall order. I only attended class till the early afternoon so I had plenty of time to take on a part time job at ‘Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan’
They needed drivers,  I fit the bill very well. Not only was I over 21, which meant I could serve beer inside the restaurant, unlike the High-school aged drivers, but I also had a car with the proper stickers to get me onto the base without having to stop at the gate and get a pass.
So for three bitterly cold and windy months, November-January, I delivered pizzas in my ’75 ‘Lemon Yellow’ Pinto Station Wagon. I delivered just long enough to raise the cash. The aroma of warm pizza in the car would last two more years. Not such a bad thing, and this is what I was harking back to.
As for the other time I delivered pizzas, I’ll not speak of that time here. Suffice it to say that the memories and reasons were not as sweet and pleasant as the Rantoul affair.
So we laid the boxes out side by side. Angel and Adam stood by impatiently as I photographed them, with my good camera. Then the carnage began in earnest. I don’t care for cheesy bread , so I passed on that. I poured myself some Pepsi and yanked out two slices of my own pie. I grabbed the bag of generic potato chips, since I like a crunch to accompany pizza.
It was quiet for a while, I was reading Michael Connelly’s ‘The Fifth Witness’ (Highly recommended!) while Angel and Adam sat in the living room and ate while watching Sponge Bob or something equally awful. It’s how we dine.
After we ate I polled the family for their thoughts. Something immediately became clear, there would be no bubbly positive review. I heard the words ‘bland’ and missing something’. Adam mentioned ‘garlic-y’ but followed up by saying ‘not in a bad way’, meaning that the taste of garlic was what he tasted most, but he wasn't sickened by it.
Angel was puzzled, trying to figure out what was missing from hers. She finally hit upon it. “The sauce, I didn’t taste any sauce.”
Cheesy Bread
And that was it. Upon that revelation, we all agreed there was no slightly sweet, slightly bright acidic bite to the pies. They all appeared to have sauce on them, but whatever was there did not stand out as a separate taste sensation.
  Oddly enough Angel and Adam also mentioned that they were quite happy with the cheesy bread, which is essentially pizza without the sauce. Hmmm.
Once the criticism session started, I re-checked my pie and noticed something else I had suspected when I was eating. Look at the pictures. The toppings were very poorly distributed. On each one of them were clumps/clusters of toppings rather than an even spread. This is especially noticeable with the olives, but was true with the peppers as well.
We agreed that we’d all had worse pizzas, and in fact these were not really too bad, just missing something.

And that something is the rub. Sure it was a relatively minor thing. For the most part, the crust, the toppings were all fresh and tasty and cooked perfectly.
A couple of years back Domino’s announced, after actually admitting lackluster product, that they were going to rebuild their pizzas from the ground up. Sauce, crust, quality of toppings. In our opinion they were only partially successful. The toppings, like I said, were fresh and tasty, but the sauce pretty much disappeared on the palate.
They had announced that they were making the changes to correct years of sacrificing quality for speed. As can be shown in the posted photographic evidence, speed is apparently still a problem. These pies were too hurriedly assembled. In my day (Caution: Old man rant about the good ‘ol days!) We took time to make sure each pie was assembled proportionally, evenly. It’s not really a small thing. We eat first with our eyes, and a tiny taste of olive is great, but a tight cluster, not so much. Sloppy, just plain sloppy.
The price was about as expected, three 14 inch (large) pies and the bread sticks came in at around forty four dollars. Not bad considering that they lasted us three entire meals. (mmm, breakfast pizza!)
The consensus of the family was, especially considering the fact that in order to pick up the pizzas in Desoto, that we have to drive right in front of Pizza Hut’s door, and that PH’s pizzas  are pretty good, there is simply no reason for us to order from Domino’s, they bring nothing unique or extra to the table.
Certainly better than a cheap freezer-pizza, and definitely less rich than Imo’s or other St. Louis style pizzas, it’s just not great, or even just a little better than that which is available elsewhere, right next door.
Finally, another reason to not put complete trust in Wikipedia: ***

*** Quite coincidentally, these acts of Wikipedia 'vandalism' appeared in the Domino's entry only for a day or two on or about the time I was doing some background research on the franchise. Since these corruptions are usually removed quickly I decided to screen-capture the offending entries. Sure enough they were corrected/removed by Monday night. But here they are saved for posterity.
It's a Wikipedia thing. After all, if you actually give an infinite number of keyboards to an infinite number of chimps, you think it's Shakespeare that they'll come up with?

Domino's Pizza on Urbanspoon


  1. Domino's CaresMarch 15, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Hi Dennis! My name is David and I'm part of the Domino's Pizza Customer Care Team. I agree that these pizzas are not our best work and we'd like to help make this situation right! Please send us an email with your experience and contact information so we can help. Here's how to get in touch: bit.ly/dpz_care


  2. Hi David, I did just that a couple of days ago! Dominos Case #: 1081325