Each month, club members review local pizzerias. See our reviews here:
Guide: We critique all types of pizza, including but not limited to pepperoni, cheese, supreme, and Hawaiian pizza. Our evaluations are based on the sauce, cheese, toppings, crust, and overall taste. The rankings range from an average of one to five stars, with one representing "Poor", three "Average," and five "Excellent."
"What to Look for in Your Pizza" By Nathan Grant
I am a huge fan of pepperoni, thin-crust pizza. Any pizza with pepperoni tastes great to me. But, what if you are reviewing pizza without your favorite toppings? What should you look for? Read this guide to find out.
Making the dough is the most difficult process in making pizza. It's all in the hands! If the dough and crust aren't perfect, the pizza will not taste as good.
When reviewing the crust, ask "Is this crust too doughy or too soft? Too crunchy? Where is the crust burnt? If it is burnt just at the top of the crust, perfect! Not many people like their crust burnt all over. It depends on what you like.
I prefer the crust burnt just at the top. The crust should not be too doughy but not too crunchy. Nevertheless, I prefer crunchy over soft!
When we make dough at home, we add herbs which absorb the moisture so the pizza won't taste mushy. We also place oil around the circumference of the dough. Once in the oven, the oil makes the dough rise to become the crust. A great pizza crust should bend but never break. It should be softer and more tender on the inside - but not too doughy or mushy. A great pizza crust should have browned and blackened char spots. This provides a needed bit of smoky flavor (that's why the best pizza is made in a wood-fired oven!). It should not be too burnt on the bottom.
The crust is rated on an average of 1 to 5 stars. Here is how I would rate the crust: 1 star - Way too mushy, too soft, must be cooked more. 2 stars - A little mushy, could be cooked a little more 3 stars - Average. Not too soft. A little crunchy or way too crunchy. 4 stars - Very good. Not too soft. The crust is burnt all over (at the top and on the bottom) 5 stars - Perfect! The crust is neither too soft nor too crunchy. It is burnt at the top but not all over the bottom.
The cheese is not too difficult to review. You either know if it tastes good or if it tastes bad.
Restaurants must not be too stingy with their cheese. The cheese must cover the entire pizza (excluding the crust).
The best cheese is creamy, wet, and quite oily when it melts. When you take a slice out of the box, do you notice that there's a long string of cheese attached from the slice to the box? Well, that's what you should look for!
I'm not that picky about the cheese, but here is how I would rate it: 1 star - Hardly any cheese on the pizza. 2 stars - Not enough cheese 3 stars - Average. There could be more cheese. 4 stars - Perfect amount of cheese. The cheese tastes good. 5 stars - Perfect amount of cheese. Excellent, creamy taste.
Speaking of cheese and crust, have you ever had cheese-stuffed crust? How was it? Let me know and we may just review that at our next restaurant!
Next to the toppings, the sauce is the most important part of the pizza.
Many people like sauce made with uncooked canned tomatoes, from either California or Italy, that have been strained and seasoned with salt and maybe some oregano. Pizza sauce should not be slow-cooked. It should not taste like pasta or marinara sauce.
Some people add sugar to their sauce. This tastes good, but it is not necessary. Others add salt to their sauce (see Chicago Pizza Tour article). In my opinion, never add salt!
You don't need too much sauce when making pizza. It should cover the area of the dough, leaving room for the crust. It doesn't need to cover the entire pizza! I repeat, it doesn't need to cover the entire pizza. Notice the pictures above. It's alright if you see spots without sauce. This is because once in the oven, the sauce expands to cover the remaining areas. Plus, too much sauce may take away the flavor and all you'll taste is the sauce. It may even weigh down the pizza, making it difficult to place in the oven.
Here is how I would rate the sauce: 1 star - Not enough sauce. Made with too much salt, so the pizza tastes bitter, tangy, and very salty 2 stars - There could be more sauce. Made with too much sugar, so the pizza tastes very sweet 3 stars - Average amount of sauce. A little sweet or a little salty 4 stars - Perfect amount of sauce. 5 stars - Perfect amount of sauce. The sauce tastes excellent!
That leaves the toppings, and it's up to you how you want to rate them.