FOOD: Pizza Wars

Falls Church Times Staff

September 3, 2010

After a hectic week in our house, nothing welcomes the weekend better than ordering out for pizza.  (Add a glass of wine and a good comedy from Netflix and I’m in heaven!)

Even though we’ve been ordering pizza for years, our family hasn’t formed a firm allegiance to a local pizza joint.  So this summer, when faced with a lazy day, we decided to blind taste-test eight cheese pizzas in preparation for the coming school year.

My two kids called four friends to help with the judging.  We created score sheets and a tracking grid to note comments about delivery times, pick-up process, price, and size.  We identified eight different restaurants in Falls Church City or just over the line – ranging from national chains to one-of-a-kind pizza parlors.  We ordered medium pizzas (when available) with just cheese.

The contenders were:

Anthony’s Restaurant & Pizzas
309 West Broad St
Falls Church, VA
12-inch $9.54
Domino’s Store #4347
6138 Arlington Blvd # C
Falls Church, VA
12-inch $12.49
Flippin’ Pizza
800 W. Broad St Suite 103
Falls Church, VA
(only size available)
Papa John’s #831
500 W Broad St
Falls Church, VA
12-inch $14.42
Pie-Tanza Falls Church
1216 West Broad Street
Falls Church, VA
12-inch $10.45
Pizzeria Orso
400 South Maple Ave
Falls Church, VA
12-inch $13.08
7393-C Lee Hwy
Falls Church, VA
12-inch $13.53
1051 West Broad St
Falls Church, VA
(There is a 12-inch pie but I misordered)

Every restaurant either delivered piping hot pizzas in a timely manner or had them ready for our arrival.  And while prices ranged, you could easily grab a pizza for under $20.

Once the pies had been sliced into tasting portions, they were placed on one plate.  Using rating sheets, the six-student panel of judges was asked to rank the pizza’s crust, sauce, and cheese, and then vote for their overall favorite.  They chewed and sipped lemonade to cleanse between bites. Silently, they wrote comments in the margin.  Some needed a second slice to make a decision.

But when the votes were tallied, there was a clear winner.  And I think you might be surprised at the results.

The winner? Domino’s.

That’s right.  Four out of six judges picked Domino’s as their favorite.  The crust was described as flavorful, fluffy, nice flavor of garlic, spicy, chewy (good), and crispy.  They also liked the sauce, but thought there was not enough on the pie.  The only aspect of the pie that got mixed reviews was the cheese – with some judges thinking it was gloppy.

If you looked at the numerical scores awarded the three components of the pizzas, Anthony’s came in second.  The panel of judges particularly liked their crust (which tasted homemade) and their sauce with chunky tomatoes.

To be fair, Pie-tanza and Pizzeria Orso pies would have been better devoured in the restaurant.  Their wood-fired crusts and gourmet cheeses didn’t appeal to the student taste buds like a more traditional pizza.  But if you want to eat pizza in your jammies on your couch, our panel said these are not the pies for you.

And even though I couldn’t participate in the “blind-taste” test (since someone had to dish up the plates), to appease my own curiosity, I filled out my own scorecard.  And I didn’t disagree with the kids.

Domino’s was a decent pizza.  And Anthony’s came in second on my scorecard.

Domino’s launched a new pizza recipe in early 2010, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  In its product launch, ads talked about how they had improved their cardboard crust and sauce that tasted like ketchup.  I guess I can say they succeeded in convincing six ‘tweens and a mom that it’s not a bad choice…

…when on a Friday night, your fingers need to do the walkin’ for dinner.

My thanks to Thomas Beddow, Claire Schmidt, Tallulah Lewis, Jack Hennessey, Anna Hennessey, and Alicia Devereaux for their discerning palates and attention to detail (see cover photo).

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By Annette Hennessey
September 2, 2010 


12 Responses to “FOOD: Pizza Wars”

  1. Laura Stricker (Falls Church) on September 3rd, 2010 8:45 am

    Thanks, Annette. It does seem like we have A LOT of pizza choices in Falls Church. Next up: a Burrito War?

  2. Chris Earman – Falls Church on September 3rd, 2010 10:02 am

    You Left Out the Newest “BEST PIZZA” in Falls Church – Mad Fox Brewery

  3. Susan Baker on September 3rd, 2010 11:48 am

    Mmm, that picture of all the slices makes me hungry! Which ones delivered?

  4. Cecily Shea on September 3rd, 2010 12:34 pm

    It would be interesting to see the results of an adult pizza tasting. I know that Domino’s would be at the bottom of my list. I don’t care for their new recipe.

  5. Mary Lynn Hickey on September 3rd, 2010 2:02 pm

    Dominos? Really?!?

    Z used to be my favorite but I don’t think they are as good as they used to be. Now it’s Flippin.

  6. Jimmy Scarano, Charlottesville, VA on September 3rd, 2010 5:48 pm

    You finally did that pizza test you were talking about! Great story. I wish I could have been there to have a part in it.

  7. Melissa Teates, City of Falls Church on September 3rd, 2010 11:30 pm

    Not surprising really – our kids have always liked the blandest cheese pizzas. They rebel against “gourmet” pizzas most of the time. Although, surprisingly, they did like Pizzeria Orso’s.

    From an adult point of view, my husband and I do not like the old or the new Dominos, but if you are starving at a pool it’s decent. We like Flippin’ the most right now, especially fresh and hot out of the oven. Orso’s is great and the topping choices are wonderful. Mad Fox’s pizza is also pretty good.

  8. Karen Bushaw-Newton on September 4th, 2010 5:43 am

    i think the panel did a pretty good job. After Domino’s confession, we tried their pizza and were pleasantly surprised. We still like Flippin best BUT we have found that ordering a whole pizza for takeout is the key. By the slice is just not as fresh. As for Z pizza-we ordered from them 3x and they messed up our orders 3x, with odds like that we haven’t ordered from them since. Anthony’s is pretty good but is best eaten at Anthony’s for the ambiance. Ahhh, Pizzeria Orso-we ordered a pizza from them once and when I picked it up it was cold. Perhaps their pizza is made of incredibly endothermic ingredients or it just wasn’t cooked because not enough time had passed from the ordering to picking up stages for how cold that pizza was. Having lived in Philly 2 years and enjoyed great pizza-takeout or in house I have little tolerance for expensive and cold. So kudos for the kids. Thanks.

  9. Ray Arnaudo, Falls Church on September 4th, 2010 10:42 am

    you forgot to try Argia’s pizza, which is truly suberb!

  10. Annette Hennessey, Falls Church City on September 4th, 2010 12:38 pm

    Sorry I forgot to include which pizza restaurants deliver: Domino’s (naturally), Papa John’s, Vocelli’s, and Z-Pizza. And thanks for the suggestions to try Argia’s and Mad Fox’s pizzas. We’ll do that our next free Friday night!

  11. Steve Sprague (Falls Church City) on September 5th, 2010 12:10 am

    Quite a range in prices. Papa John’s is more than 50% higher in cost then Anthony’s. Thanks for your taste test.

  12. Meg Wiant (Falls Church City) on September 6th, 2010 1:13 pm

    Z pizza is great if you need to eat Gluten Free. So far they are the only place in town to offer GF pizza.

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