A few weeks ago, our pal Dan was hanging out at our house, probably watching something awesome like wrestling, and he said "oh wait, have you guys heard about the new Pizza Hut menu?"
While my ears flipped up like a dog hearing his name come dinner time, I wasn't as psyched as I should have been. After all, it's Pizza Hut. Who cares?
I grew up eating mostly local pizza places- a lot of "Houses of." Sometime in high school, a Pizza Hut opened up in the next town over, and we got it a few times. It was solid, but it wasn't until 1995, when the greatest invention my young eyes had ever seen came out that I fell in love. The Stuffed Crust pizza made me an instant Pizza Hut fanboy. A Huttie.
Over time, Pizza Hut became a staple of my diet as my weekly Friday night pizza. Then I went to college in the middle of nowhere, and I was back to local places. I didn't visit the Hut for years. When I finally went back a few years after college, I wondered what the hell I had been doing eating Pizza Hut growing up. It was terrible. Somehow, they had ruined the sauce- it was either oddly bitter and peppery, or weirdly sweet. I'd get it again a year or so later, and it was better, but still pretty blah. Perhaps my tastes had matured and left the Hut behind.
I didn't care though- I had local places, so Pizza Hut kept going without me caring. And apparently not a lot of other people cared either.
Remember when nobody cared about Domino's a few years ago and they changed how they made pizza? I didn't think the new version was that much better, but I loved that they flat out admitted that they had been failing at making good pizza, and they were going to try their best to fix that. And then they delivered with their Pan Pizza. That 2 topping Pan Pizza for $7.99 (now $8.99, bastards) deal changed my life. That pizza is SO GODDAMN DELICIOUS that all of a sudden, crappy old Domino's was back on my large pizza-shaped radar. And I'd never call them crappy again. In fact, I'd stop anyone who spoke ill of Domino's and hold my hand out- waiting for them to finish so I could tell them how wrong they'd find out they were once they got a pan pizza.
And now, after seeing what can be done with an overhaul and commitment to better oneself, Pizza Hut has adopted Domino's strategy and has truly come out of the shadows to give the mainstream pizza world a beautiful glowing light of hope.
At least I'd hoped.
As Dan read off the changes Pizza Hut would be making, my eyes grew wider after everything he said. The things he was telling me were blowing my mind.
New ingredients including crazy stuff like Peruvian Cherry Peppers.
New sauces like a Creamy Garlic Parmesan.
And new options for customization that seemed impossible. I could now get crust flavors, which means they will sprinkle and brush seasonings onto the crust and bake it- from expected stuff like toasted parmesan to insane stuff like honey sriracha.
And last and absolutely not least, I could get "Sauce Drizzles," meaning they will draw a pretty little circle of sauce over the top of your pizza, from normals like barbeque and buffalo sauce to the super fancy Balsamic, which is a "slightly sweet reduction of Modena, Italy, balsamic vinegar, aged in oak and chestnut casks."
AAAAAND, across 3 different menus (New Recipes, Flavor Pioneers, and Skinny Pizzas), there are now 21 new specialty pizzas. Twenty one.
So, this Sunday, while we watched Survivor Series (we apparently watch a lot of wrestling), we decided to help Pizza Hut out on their launch weekend, and ordered a lot of pizza.
First of all, there are, according to Pizza Hut, 2 billion possible combinations. And, once you set up an online account at pizzahut.com, you can go through and make your own monster, try a specialty pizza, or try a specialty pizza and make your own monster out of it. The possibilities are endless and insane. (Oh- and just make an account. Because if you don't, the website will ask you to on EVERY SINGLE THING YOU CLICK.)
We really like pizza though, so I'm gonna tell you now- we didn't go insane just for insane purposes. While Pizza Hut currently has an $11 for ANY pizza deal, we still wanted to enjoy our pizzas. And we did. Oh yes, we did.
What did I try first? The Old-Fashioned Meatbrawl.
and it was beautiful
This guy is described as follows: Classic marinara sauce, classic meatballs, fresh red onions and diced Roma tomatoes, with "Hut favorite" on the crust edge (garlic buttery blend with grated parmesan and Italian herbs). I felt I wanted a little bit of spice, so I added pepperoni, and went with my old favorite, stuffed crust. I also changed the sauce- as much as I like a marinara and meatball combo, I really wanted to try the Premium Crushed Tomato sauce.
It really looked like a glorious pie. As excited as I was to try the new Pizza Hut, I didn't expect it to look this good.
It was a great pizza. It really was.
I'm gonna tell you right now- with a name like Meatbrawl, this one seemed like one we had to order. I imagined taking pictures of me fighting my pizza. I imagined the meat from this pizza kicking my ass, and I would be the loser of the Meatbrawl, while simultaneously being the winner (cuz I'd be eating delicious pizza, duh). But none of those pictures happened, because this pizza was, for lack of a funny thing to say, positively delightful. While clearly "meatbrawl" was just a clever take on meatball, it sounds violent, and this pizza was too good and too fancy to be called something as violent as a Meatbrawl. It should be called something tender and sweet, like a Meat Massage or something.
Ok, maybe not "Meat Massage."
The meatballs were really good- very flavorful and tender, but with the occasional crispness around the edge. I'm not a big onion guy, but these were crisp and pretty perfectly distributed. The tomatoes were awesome and very sweet, made even more sweet by the crushed tomato sauce. The greatness of the sauce was most noticed when I got towards the end of the piece and it was just stuffed crust and a little sauce. The sweetness really went well with the stuffed crust. But what went even better with it was the Hut Favorite crust flavoring. Each crust was a garlic and italian herb mozarella stick with tinges of sweet sauce. I wondered how I had ever enjoyed stuffed crust without this. So good.
We all did piece-for-piece trades that night so we could really experience all Pizza Hut had to offer, and I liked everything I had. But those other pizzas will have to wait until tomorrow. Wait, what? A review tomorrow?
Yea, that's right. Today marks the beginning of FGFB PIZZA HUT WEEK. A different pizza every day. Yea, we know it's Thanksgiving week. You know what we're thankful for? The new Pizza Hut.
For real- this pizza was perfectly put together and everything about it ruled. I don't know if I'd get this exact one again, but I'd take parts of it into my next journey for sure. 2 billion possible combinations and an (online only) $11 for any pizza deal? Congratulations Pizza Hut, you're back from the grave, and you've reached one half-rotted, decrepit zombie arm out of the dirt and directly into my heart.
Pizza Hut in general: A+
This pizza: A
-review by Mike
Oh, you're still reading? Good. Cuz I made these charts for you to condense the website onto 1 picture. You're welcome. Click it to make it big.
New specialty pizzas:
And here's some other key elements of the ordering process condensed for our loyal readers. On the left is the beginning of the process, when you can select the specialty pizzas we got. Below that is the options for sauce drizzles. And to the right are the options for crust flavors. Study these, then get to ordering before Pizza Hut realizes how insane it is to give you any pizza for $11.