Saturday, 03 January 2009 07:47

I Want it Hot & Crusty

Written by Sarah Johnson
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The pizza from O' Brien's

A good pizza is the ultimate enigma. Some like it hot, a few like it cold. Thick crust or thin, extra cheese or not, and how about the endless topping options? These few factors can make or break the perfect pizza.


With so much depending on personal preference, you might wonder how we were going to conduct an impartial blind tasting on pizza this month. The answer was to bring in a panel of nine judges, all with a background in the food and beverage industry. In this way we hoped to be as fair as possible.

This was not the first time such an experiment had been done. Two years ago a blind tasting was undertaken by three pizza enthusiasts. The results were a little controversial – some of the big boys of the Saigon pizza world didn’t perform as well as they might have wanted. No one wants to hear their pizza is limp and doesn’t pass the flop factor, particularly if it’s the main feature on their menu.

The Requirements

Now, two years later, we decided to tread on thin crust (pun intended) once again and try to answer the much debated question – who delivers the best pizza in town?

Each outlet was asked to provide us with their signature pizza – think Pizza Hut’s Supreme pizza and you’ve got the picture. Delivery time was recorded, taking into account the destination point, Vino on Hai Ba Trung, where the pizzas were to be eaten. Most importantly, no one was informed that their offerings would be tried, tested and scrutinised by nine pizza afficionados, and all the pizzas were paid for by us.

Various obstacles were met and some overcame them more gracefully than others. One delivery guy from only a few doors down got lost, while it turned out that Pizza Hut didn’t deliver – we ended up having to buy a takeaway. So revealing were the results that a certain establishment had to be removed from this final write-up. Everyone has an off day, no matter how good a product they produce.

I Would like to Place an Order Please

The fastest pizza came from O’Brien’s, not that it had far to go. This Speedy Gonzales arrived only 17 minutes after ordering. Aesthetically pleasing, it scored well. Almost all the members gave it high marks, except for one who compared it to “cheese on toast.” The fact that it arrived hot was an added bonus and the overall taste was a hit, making it an impressive second on our list of Saigon’s best pizzas for delivery.

Vasco’s pizza took four minutes longer and was even more of a success, claiming first place in the final rankings. It was an all rounder, scoring well in all categories and receiving praise for its appearance with one member saying, “it looks great!” One person clearly couldn’t get enough of it complaining that it was “a bit small”. Costing a very reasonable VND90,000, what did they expect?

Al Fresco’s also showed a mean set of wheels, their pizza arriving after 25 minutes and ranking an overall third. The shining light on this pizza were the toppings with most members of the panel singling them out for their tastiness. Meanwhile, the fourth pizza to grace the table came from Da Vinci’s after 27 minutes. While the tomato sauce received top marks and the toppings versus cheese balance was good, a few members of the panel didn’t like the crust, which they described as “biscuity and dry”.

La Hostaria, with their Italian-style offering, came midway in the speed race; ranking-wise they crept into the top five for both overall taste and quality of ingredients. Good Morning Vietnam’s Pizza Pazza was also well-ranked, but arrived after a disappointing wait of 42 minutes. Overall, it was a sturdy offering and was commended for its appearance and “great tasting crust.”

And Rounding out the Race

Cappuccino and Scoozi lagged behind the others, their pizzas arriving after 44 minutes and 49 minutes respectively. Scoozi’s Chef’s Special, though, was worth the wait as it ended up in fourth place and received praise for its overall taste, quality of toppings, use of tomato sauce and cheese. Its only downfall was that it was a little cold. A real shame because it was an excellent pizza.

A favourite among the Pham Ngu Lao community, Cappuccino’s pizza was criticised for its over-abundance of cheese which engulfed all the other toppings. On the plus side, it was the second cheapest pizza at only VND98,000.

What pizza testing would be complete without featuring the giant of the international pizza scene? Known for its delivery service in the west, at the time of doing the tasting, Pizza Hut had yet to start deliveries in Ho Chi Minh City. However, having omitted pizzas from Sarpino’s and Pizza Inn (both made in a similar style) we decided to feature them anyway.

The dough had too much trapped air in it – there was a massive bubble in the final pizza – and although made with quality ingredients, the overall taste was far too salty. A disappointment all round, proving that just because you have a big name doesn’t mean you’re the best in the business.

To see the final results of the pizza tasting, please see the January 2009 print edition of The Word Ho Chi Minh City. For information on how to obtain a copy, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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