Welcome to Week 2 of the Valley Pizza Challenge! This week we are taking a bite out of the Domino’s Pizza (yes, The Domino’s) on King Street and Pizza Amore on Green Street. This week was originally slated to include Joe’s Pizza and Spaghetti, but we ended up doing our tasting during lunch, and since Joe’s is only open for dinner there was a quick switch to Pizza Amore. I’ve got a lot of happy experience with the pitas from Pizza Amore but have never been super impressed with their pizza. And with regards to Domino’s, there are enough other pizza options in the area that I’ve never actually eaten at this one, so we wanted to make sure we gave it a fair shake and left any existing biases out of this.
Here is how the bracket looks at the beginning of this week’s tasting.
The two pies were picked up by Adam and Noah respectively, and each has written up their personal experiences below.
Pizza Amore picked up by Adam
I had been looking forward to checking out Joe’s Pizza and Spaghetti, what with the glorious sombrero-covered sign and all, but it turned out they don’t open for lunch. Luckily, Pizza Amore does open for lunch and while I had no problem giving my order over the phone (with a 25 minute wait time quoted) I noticed a touch of panic in their voice. It turns out someone didn’t show up for work that day and they were in the weeds. The order ended up taking a bit longer than they quoted, but with the kitchen being right out in the open I could see them hustling to get food out the door as fast as possible.
Green Street is right across the street from Smith campus and on sunny days you can enjoy your meal on the lawn under a tree, though you may have to fight off the obese squirrels that call those trees their home. The inside is a fairly typical small-town pizza joint, though this one has a Greek flair due to the owners’ nation of origin. There are plenty of places to sit if you want to dine-in, though this is mainly a take-out/delivery type place.
In recent years Domino’s has become known more for its tech innovation than its pie, offering a slick mobile app that lets you order overwhelmingly customizable pizzas dialed in to your exacting preferences. I however opted to go the analog route, and call in my order (without any special requests save for ‘half cheese, half sausage’) for takeout. Located in Kingsgate plaza on King Street, this Domino’s is convenient if say, you are already there to do your taxes at the H&R Block next door, or if you are in town to re-up on beads at the nearby Northampton Beadery (real place, who knew…).
Domino’s, being the Walmart of pizza joints, is a well-oiled (see what I did there?) machine and in total, phone call to pizza-in-hand took only 10 minutes. A very friendly employee standing in front of a futuristic looking construct of pizza ovens had me in and out and on my way quickly with trademark hexagonal (sorta) pizza box in tow.
Disclosure: The Domino’s pie sat for about 15 minutes before the Pizza Amore pie arrived, so it was somewhat congealed when we started eating.
I’m sure everyone familiar with Domino’s has their own personal opinions on its pizzas, but we really tried to perform this lunchtime tasting with the least amount of bias possible. This week we decided on half-cheese/half-sausage for toppings, and again, the toppings made a big difference. However, it wasn’t the only difference; these pies were very distinct from each other. Straight off the bat, the Pizza Amore pie is larger and more visually pleasing, and the cheese and crust are entirely different colors. Here, see for yourself!
The Domino’s crust was well cooked and had a strong flavor, while the Pizza Amore crust tasted a little more “natural” but was pretty bland and just barely cooked enough. Some notes on the Domino’s crust was that it was “stale tasting”, “more taste, bad texture”, and “unnatural tasting”. The notes for the Pizza Amore crust were “bland doughy crust” and “too bland crust”. The real back and forth we had here was the unearthly, somehow stale, quality of the Domino’s crust vs. the OK but flavor-lacking crust from Pizza Amore. This one ended up splitting us down the middle, and we ended up with a tie.
The sausage on the Domino’s pie seems to be bog-standard commercial-grade sausage tots, but there were a good amount of them and they were evenly distributed. Compare that to the sausage from Pizza Amore which was pretty haphazardly applied and slightly sparser, but seemed to be of higher quality. There wasn’t much noted about the sausage from either pizza but the cheese from Domino’s was said to taste “fake” and had no “stretch/stringiness,” while the Pizza Amore cheese was chewier. In this category there really wasn’t much debate: Pizza Amore was better.
Winner: Pizza Amore
It was determined that the Domino’s pizza had a strong, sharp taste, though some felt a bit too sharp. It almost seemed like the extra seasoning was trying to cover something up. What that is, though, we couldn’t say. Most of the comments in this category tended to be about the Domino’s pizza as the Pizza Amore sauce and cheese was found to be somewhat unremarkable.
Most comments for Domino’s indicated that the crust was too “cakey” and had no bite. Each bite went down pretty easy but texture was not a strong-suit. There was no chewiness, it sort of fell apart in your mouth. The Pizza Amore pizza had a more standard natural texture that was generally pretty pleasant, though beyond that none of us had anything particularly good to say about it.
Winner: Pizza Amore
I think we all had some issues with the Domino’s pizza: it just had an air of the unnatural about it that was hard to shake. It both looked and tasted like a product that has been optimized for maximum flavor at minimum cost, though it was only two dollars less than the Pizza Amore pizza. We each expressed concern that we would be able to avoid bias in this test, and I’m not sure we completely succeeded in that, but we definitely gave this pizza a try.
The Pizza Amore pie, while hand-made using decent quality ingredients, was held back by its lack of flavor and character. If you’re looking for some delivery that will not disapoint, but also will not draw attention to itself, then this is your pick.
At this point you can probably surmise that we chose Pizza Amore as our winner. However, they both had their problems and I probably wouldn’t recommend either’s pizza when there are so many well made pies in town. But if you must eat at one of these places my advice would be to skip the pizza and get some delicious pitas at Pizza Amore, which are always tasty and a great price. I personally love the chicken stir fry pita!
|Winner: Pizza Amore (12 votes)|
|Loser: Domino's Pizza (4 votes)|
Winner: Pizza Amore!