Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Little Caesars' Stuffed Crust DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza REVIEWED!

How does the "Detroit-style" limited-time-only pizza - which boasts of containing THREE FEET of cheese - fare? Astonishingly well, actually. 

By: Jimbo X

If I had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it's a no-brainer: deep dish pizza, and lots of it

I've talked in-depth in the past about why the particular permutation of Italian-American Sauce Bread is the best thing humans can digest in the past, so I really don't need to trudge the same territory here. Alas, living far, far away from deep dish hotbeds like New York and Chicago, I have to make do with the scant selection of thick crusted, sauce-drenched 'za in my metropolitan area - which, depending on your desire to trek outside the perimeter, isn't really all that bad

Still, I have to do a lot of traveling to find high-grade, top-quality deep dish pizza. But has there been a ubiquitous, super-affordable placebo dotting the hinterlands under my nose the entire time? 

Now, I've known about Little Caesars for years and years. The strange thing is - and this happened with TCBY, too, for some reason - the chain seemed to have left my home state altogether for a good ten years, and it wasn't until very recently - like, 2012 or 2013, that the franchise started popping up again in metro-Atlanta's strip malls. 

Little Caesars is probably the weirdest of "The Big Four" pizza delivery chains in the U.S. I mean, these are the same people who put pizzas in four foot long boxes and named their six-topping pies after mythical Pacific Northwest creatures in the 1990s, after all. Alas, while Pizza Hut, Domino's and especially Papa John's struggle to retain a core identity in today's "customize everything" fast food economy, Little C's has its niche locked down and tight. You don't go to Little Caesars expecting high-quality, versatile pizzas. Oh, no sir, you go there because the pizzas are cheap ($5 for a large pepperoni!) and because you don't have to wait ... they have about 70 of the fuckers cooking in an oven at all times, so all you have to do is waltz in, slap down your cash and you'll be nomming in less than a minute. So, yeah, it's basically what the Dollar Tree is to Target - you know what you're getting but since it is in your price range, you ain't saying shit

That said, the chain also does some gimmicky stuff. In fact, I've already reviewed one variation of their signature DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza, when I gleefully tackled last year's super-indulgent bacon-wrapped monstrosity. Well, this year, they're issuing yet another deep dish pizza variation - this time, promising three feet of gooey white cheese baked inside the pizza crust itself

So, how does this newfangled, limited-time-only stuffed crust addendum fare? Well, let me tell you guys something: it's fucking fantastic

At first glance, the pizza is a little disappointing looking. Just eight pieces, on two squares of dough? Sounds like some bullshit, don't it? Well, rest assured, carbohydrate enthusiasts, these things are DEFINITELY enough to fill you up, pending you aren't a sumo wrestler or competitive eater or something. 

It's really hard to describe, but each piece is heavy. I mean, at least rivaling two or three iPhones in weight, maybe even four or five of them stacked atop each other. If you were to drop a box from the top of a skyscraper and it landed on somebody's head, it would most likely kill them, which is probably the best possible death scenario I can imagine. I mean, yeah, you just had your spinal cord compressed out your asshole, but dude, deep dish pizza!

As a proud "Detroit-style" pizza, this thing is light on sauce and HEAVY on the dairy. The top layer of cheese is pretty nice and chewy, but the pepperonis and and tomato paste are rather meh. Yes, that sounds like a recipe for a negative review, but just you wait ... we've got this stuffed crust to talk about first

Stuffed crust is one of those things that's easy and hard to pull off at the same time. On one hand, it's not like it is that difficult to assemble; you take some string cheese, you wrap it around the dough and you are pretty much set. Rather, the difficulty comes in getting the right proportion of cheese in there and attaining just the right amount of gooeyness. If it bakes too long, it becomes a slippery molten mess and if it doesn't spend enough time in the oven, it remains in a weird semi-solid state, and there is no worse feeling in this world than chomping into a stuffed-crust pizza and getting a big old chunk of still-rock-hard mozzarella. Aye, crafting a solid stuffed crust pie requires far more technical know-how and good old fashioned baking skill than it appears, and as the kids are oft prone to saying these days, it definitely be hard as a motherfucka'

And here, the deep dish, uh, dish, excels and hard. It might sound like marketing hyperbole when you hear the product has three and a half feet of cheese inside it, but folks, I think that might very well be a rare instance of truth in advertising. Simply put, this sumbitch is LOADED with cheese, with so much oozy mozzarella spilling out all over the place that it's pretty much a lock that you won't be able to poop for at least a week afterwards. Thankfully, Little C absolutely NAILED the stuffed crust recipe, striking about as close to a perfect blend of semi-solid/semi-molten dairy I've ever ingested. Which, of course, begs the question: why is it that the cheese stuffed inside the crust almost ALWAYS seems to taste richer and juicier than the cheese baked on top of the pie itself? There's probably a simple, eighth-grade science answer, but I was out sick the week we talked about the difference between convection and radiation.

So, all in all, I really, REALLY dug this pizza. Granted, the sauce is a bit watery, the bread is a little too mushy and there isn't as much cheese atop the pie as I would like, but the pepperoni is nonetheless crisp and oily, and as stated earlier, my God, how about that stuffed crust mozzarella? For less than $11, you really are getting a ton of food. I'm a guy who can eat a staggering amount of food in one sitting, but even I had difficulty finishing the pizza off by myself. So, you get a really solid deep dish pizza - with stuffed crust that makes Pizza Hut's look like dog shit - for less that it costs to pick up an 8GB thumb drive. Of course, it's no match for the REAL deep dish pizzas out there, and it would've been awesome to customize the pie a little bit further (pineapple and black olives, with a little bit of pesto and a nice olive oil vinaigrette would have made this thing otherworldly), but considering the overall quality - not to mention quantity - for the price point, I've got absolutely nothing to complain about. 

Here's to you, Little Caesar's - proving once and for all that there actually IS something to come out of Detroit worth talking about that isn't Robocop or the Insane Clown Posse. Just as long as you guys aren't watering your 'maters with the stuff coming out of the taps in Flint, I reckon you folks remain the undisputed Proletariat Pizza champions of the world - and this shockingly delicious deep dish offering is your veritable title belt


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