BY SRAVYA CHIRUMAMILLA AND NIAMH SLEVIN
Daily Weekend Editors
Published April 14, 2004
Lying in wait in the student ghetto, anticipating the arrival of
each unsuspecting delivery man was the most lethal pizza inspection
team known to Ann Arbor. Nearly 30 Daily staff members gathered on
a balmy Friday night, ready to pounce on every slice of pizza.
Careful notes, graphic illustrations and watchful eyes, amalgamated
to create The Michigan Daily Pizza Challenge.
More like this
The rules were simple: Every pizza place in Ann Arbor that
delivers would be rated on speed, price, courtesy of personnel,
greasiness and overall taste. Within the taste categories included
in-depth analysis of the sauce, cheese, crust, toppings and the
size of the slice. We exempted the main chains such as Pizza Hut,
Little Caesar’s and Domino’s Pizza. Lastly, to maintain
consistency, we ordered half cheese and did not include specialty
items such as deep dish pizzas.
The first round of orders began at 10:40 p.m. with calls to
Hello Faz Pizza, Anthony’s Gourmet Pizza, DJ’s Pizza,
Mancino’s, Marco’s Pizza and Pizza Bob’s.
Unfortunately for Pizza Bob’s, its driver was in a car
accident earlier in the evening and could not deliver pizza, thus
disqualifying the establishment. The Daily checked on the status of
the driver the next day and was reassured that he was doing well.
Mancino’s was also disqualified since the restaurant on
Jackson Road closes at 10 p.m.
Since pizza places must deal with the some drunk and confused
callers, the Daily pretended to be of that ilk. “Hello? I
would like to order some jalapeños.” With a heavy
Indian accent, a craving for jalapeños and a phone that
often lost reception, Daily staffers placed a call to Mr. Pizza at
11:15 p.m. Determined to maintain the phone call, the order-taker
asked us to use a separate phone or to call from a different
location and finally resorted to receiving the order by shouting
into the phone. This patience was notably absent from
Leonardo’s Pizza. When a Daily staffer pretended to be an
Italian man, the people at the pizza parlor formerly known as Da
Vinci’s were less than receptive. They noted with annoyance
that they were not Italian and actually did not even deliver the
order, which they promised us would only take an hour.
The last round of phone calls was to the four mainstays in Ann
Arbor: Bell’s Pizza, Cottage Inn Pizza, New York Pizza Depot
and Pizza House. Though no one could understand what the people at
Bell’s Pizza were saying, the exchange with Cottage Inn Pizza
was one of the worst. After placing us on hold for two minutes, the
people taking the order were curt and rude, cutting us off
The people at Pizza House deserve the award for most patient for
putting up with the Daily’s drunk call at 11:20 p.m. Instead
of simply placing an order, Daily staffers decided to extend the
conversation to a 10-minute dialogue about lacking pants, wanting
marinara sauce and needing complete silence.
It was a shock that after the above-mentioned abuse that any of
the pizza parlors delivered. In fact, all but Leonardo’s
Pizza came through with our orders. The fastest delivery person was
in fact DJ’s Pizza; however, they were also the worst because
he delivered to the wrong house. Luckily, the neighbors knew of the
situation next door and directed him our way. Since most neighbors
would not be so kind, one should be careful while ordering delivery
Marco’s Pizza was a close second in speed and was the only
pizza delivered in a truck with the name of the venue emblazoned on
it. The shadiest of drivers was definitely the one from Hello Faz
Pizza. He drove on the street in a car completely relying on spare
tires, and parked in front of the neighbor’s home for a few
minutes. While no one could look into the tinted windows to see
exactly what he was doing, he took a great deal of time to get out
of the car.
Tim, the delivery man from Cottage Inn was our favorite for his
politeness and grin. Regardless of the behavior of Daily staffers,
Tim noted, “I don’t judge anyone.” Michael from
New York Pizza Depot pulled up playing loud metal music and even
drove illegally down the wrong way on a one-way street. Lastly, the
delivery man from Pizza House — the most abused by those on
the porch — maintained his depressed expression throughout
Staffers eagerly filled their cups with their preferred
beverages as the first delivery man pulled alongside the curb. As
the first pie made its way to the counter, hungry party-goers
rushed the kitchen in the hopes of snatching a piece. Slices were
served to blind testers first before the vulture-like guests
Though people were anxious to grab some food after nearly a half
an hour of waiting, Marco’s Pizza received mixed reviews. On
a scale from one to 10, the overall task weighed in at only a five.
Lack of sauce, bland crust and fairly tasteless cheese were some of
the most common complaints.
Jess Piskor remarked that the pizza could have benefited from
“more tomato action.”
His companion on the blind taste test, senior food critic Anthea
Stolz, commended Marco’s for at least limiting the puddles of
grease on the pizza despite its other shortcomings.
Less than 10 minutes later, pizza No. 2 arrived, and staffers
once again crowded the kitchen for a chance at another piece.
Before the Anthony’s driver had time to pull away, our pizza
experts were digging into their second slice. Most staffers could
not even muster the words to describe the poor quality of this pie;
their grimaces of disgust were enough to judge. Needless to say,
Anthony’s received the worst rating of all the pizzas
DJ’s pizza fared slightly better, ranking right around the
C. Price Jones, another Daily pizza connoisseur, explained,
“(DJ’s was) very mediocre. Frankly, it was mediocre in
its mediocrity — not even a little creatively
Others agreed, saying the sauce was too sweet for their tastes,
and the cheese was slightly rubbery. However, they did admit the
toppings were not as objectionable as the rest.
The next pie, a Hello Faz specialty, received many of the same
complaints. Daily Arts writer Hussain Rahim felt the toppings were
“fresh and yummy,” but the crust could have been
Mr. Pizza also lost the ratings war, coming in at a generous
five. Staffers were unimpressed with the quality of the toppings,
but granted, they were jalapeños. Yet, the toppings were not
the most offensive part; it was the rest of the ingredients that
“It was like I had a cold tennis shoe in my mouth,”
said Kylene Kiang, referring to the taste and texture of both the
cheese and crust.
Taste testers were torn in their ratings of Ann Arbor classic,
Pizza House. While some ranked its pie as high as a nine, others
gave it only a four. Some praised Pizza House for its non-greasy
texture and adequate amount of cheese. However, others were not
appreciative of the excess of toppings; large chunks of Italian
sausage strewn over every inch of cheese overwhelmed many
After the drinks had been flowing for more than two hours,
Bell’s Pizza arrived as the seventh competitor of the
evening. Ripping into what should have been a mixture of tomato
goodness and dairy delight, staffers debated its quality with what
one might call fightin’ words. Some argued that the burnt
cheese and dry crust were undoubtedly its downfall, but others,
such as Kiang, reveled in its unique flavor.
“The burnt cheese (provided) crispity, crunchity
goodness,” she said.
Cottage Inn, the eighth contestant, earned a second place
position thanks to its balanced blend of dough and sauce and the
refreshing courtesy of its personnel. Kiang raved, “Tim (the
driver) is the kind of guy you want to introduce to your
Despite its pros, staffers were unsure whether to accept the
incredible amount of grease pools as a positive or negative
Rounding out the evening and snagging the title as Best Ann
Arbor Pizza, the New York Pizza Depot pie averaged a strong eight
in staffers’ opinions. Jones noted the thinness of its crust,
saying it was “like butter.”
Piskor offered the ultimate compliment, claiming the pie could
have come straight from Sicily. “(It was) a separate taste
sensation wholly different from the rest.”
As staffers left the party, bellies satisfied and heads
swelling, the feeling was clear that NYPD was the champion of Ann
Arbor’s diverse pizza scene.
Pizza Challenge rankings
Daily staffers rank the pizzas from Ann Arbor’s 10
1. New York Pizza Depot — Superior pizza and delivery wins
2. Cottage Inn Pizza — Tim will forever remain in our
3. Pizza House — We apologize for the harassment and thank
you for your patience.
4. Bell’s Pizza — Burnt but the drunkard’s
5. DJ’s Pizza — Delivered to the wrong house but was
6. Hello Faz Pizza — Average with a tough crust but with a
shady delivery man.
7. Marco’s Pizza — Cool trucks but skimps on
8. Mr. Pizza — Lacked taste and texture in both the cheese
and the crust.
9. Anthony’s Gourmet Pizza — Grimaces of disgust
rate this the worst tasting pizza.
10. Leonardo’s Pizza — It didn’t help that
they never showed up.