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Clintonville Pizza Challenge: Sadness on Sinclair; Pizza House, Pizza Mart and the Agony of Defeat

Posted by CMH Gourmand on March 27, 2012

The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Nerdville nine on that Monday:
The score stood zero vs. zero, with Pizza House and Pizza Mart DOA.
And then when CMH Gourmand died in his heart, and his brain did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the nerds for the Clintonville Pizza Challenge game.

The straggling two found the site in deep despair. The first nerds to arrive, wondered – why is there no pizza to share how do we know which one will be best?
They Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, what is the deal, where is Tom at
We’d put up even money, now, hoping the pizza won’t taste like dead cat.

But Rachel preceded Donna, as Andy fought back the snark,
But the situation was dire and the outcome looked dark
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For now there seemed but little chance of CMH Gourmand not having a heart attack.

But they sat in learned helplessness, unsure of what to do
Where was the Pizza? Why can’t all shops deliver, Boo, hoo, hoo
And the sauce contrarian, the much traumatized, tore the fallacies of false hope all aside;
And when the dust had lifted, and the Nerds saw what had occurred,
Both pizzas, when obtained, were abysmal, and missed the mark of mediocrity by a very long stride.

Then from one somber throat, that held back on an inappropriate remark;
I’m sorry this happened, I’ll pay for it all;
And the Gourmand, as his sat and stewed and try to understand this lark
For this concept should be so simple, no one has to take the fall.

There was confusion in the Gourmand’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was an annoyance in Gourmand’s bearing and a blankness on his face.
And when, responding to the jeers, he lightly dialed a cell phone,
I don’t know why these both suck, but I’ll get more even if I must dine alone.

Eighteen eyes were on him as he looked at the boxes in dismay;
Nine tongues tried to explain what happened this day
The plan was unclear, they did not think to check
That the guy they thought was picking up the pizzas, knew the sequence of steps

<stopped this poetry redux continuation many stanzas short because I like my readers and don't want them to suffer more).

Oh, somewhere in this favored Ville the sun is shining bright;
The pizza is good somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere nerds are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Clintonville – both pizzas struck out.

Nothing in my life prepared me for the debacle and disappointment of the second installment of the Clintonville Pizza Challenge. In fact, my mind still reels from the event. Having run six Pizza Grand Prix‘s, other events and such, the concept of just having two pizza places compete and both tanking is outside my realm of comprehension.

Prior planning prevents piss poor pizza. And planning failed on this one. Due to a series of missteps, pizzas were ordered from Pizza House and Pizza Mart. But, no one picked them up (because this part of the plan had not been finalized and confirmed)…so they sat. When the miscue was diagnosed and the pizzas were picked up – what appears to be mediocre pizzas on both sides, lost any real hope of competition due to a lack of heat. The whole debacle was no one’s fault but it did show that the approach needed to be retooled.

I arrived late to find a lot of pizza left. None of it looked appealing. Initial reports indicated that both pizzas lost this round. I am one of those people who is perfectly happy to try a pizza pie that is lukewarm or cold, often I find that this helps me taste the individual flavors better. Trying both, I was soundly underwhelmed. Pizza Mart, I had never tried, so I had no baseline. But Pizza House, one of the standards of my youth….was not the pizza of my teenage years or even what I had back in 2011.

The consensus of the group was that both lost and neither could advance to the next bracket. The remaining pizzas, largely untouched were cold veggie pizzas – never my favorite when warm. The Pizza Mart pizza was over cooked….maybe they held it in the oven waiting for it to be picked up. There was not a good sample of Pizza House for me to try.

Looking at the semi-hungry people and wanting some redemption for at least Pizza House, I called in another order for a medium pepperoni and Sausage, a medium pesto and an Open-Faced Meatball sub and picked these up. The second round of Pizza House got a better response but still a resounding…..meh.

I don’t think these pizzas were sampled in their ideal state and the jury is so tainted by both, there is no way for these to get any consideration for the pizza challenge bracket. So at this point – I have to give up on both, call it a mis-fire and write these two off. If readers want to chime in on Pizza House and Pizza Mart please do so.

To sum up. FAIL.

The orange slices won

Some random thoughts on Pizza culture via two questions for the people following this series.

1) Thoughts on pizza delivery? Essential or a luxury?

2) Does pizza always have to be warm to be good? (People freak out when eating pizza that is not fresh out of the oven. In my experience (with the exception of Bono, Harvest Pizzeria and The Rossi) – most pizza is fine 15, 30 minutes or even an hour status post pick up.

Anyway – sorry for the whiff. Next week it is North vs. South: Hounddogs Pizza vs. Villa Nova. Stay tuned for a much better post and report on that war of the noses.

5 Responses to “Clintonville Pizza Challenge: Sadness on Sinclair; Pizza House, Pizza Mart and the Agony of Defeat”

  1. Norman said

    1) Delivery is not essential to a good pizza place. Nice, but not essential. I will drive down to Bethel Rd.(25 min round trip) or up to Powell (15-20 minute round trip) for Flying PIzza or Brooklyn PIzza pies because they are worth it.
    2) Cold or hot is, I think, generational. I cannot abide cold pizza. Too many hard coagulants and the meat is yucky. My boys, on the other hand, scarf it down, especially for breakfast, as do all of their friends and everyone I know under 40.

    BTW, how is Harvest Pizza in German Village? Moving down there and haven’t tried it.

    CMH G. Reply: Chef Norman – you will like Harvest Pizza….if they get the extra space to make their own dough this year – you will like it even more. I am also a big fan of the Rossi.

  2. Rachel said

    All is forgiven, with a small rhyme
    Both next week’s pizzas
    Will arrive right on time.
    Tom and CMH saved the day
    In the Nerdliest way
    And everyone had a frakkin’ good time.

  3. Aloha Jo said

    Pizza delivery? luxury
    Does pizza always have to be warm to be good? No. Although, it depends on the pizza. Pizzas made with high quality ingredients are just as good cold as they are hot. I even think that Rocco’s Pizza Plus’s Red Eye pizza is BETTER when cold. IMHO, if the pizza is just okay, or even worse, when hot/warm, then it will not be good when cold.

    Perhaps these last 2 competitors can be replayed in a makeup bracket. It has been years, and it was only once, since I had Pizza Mart. We usually go to Pizza House 2 or 3 times a year. I have noticed a change in Pizza House. We had a few year hiatus, and just recently start going back. For one thing, now they put the salami (we always order salami and pep) on the bottom of the toppings. It doesn’t get that nice crispness to it that way.

    Thanks for the fun journey that you are taking us on with this challenge.

  4. Roland said

    Thoughts on pizza delivery. I think pizza is best right out of the oven so I generally opt for a carry out order regardless of delivery being available or not. In my youth, I delivered many pizzas. On a busy night, a driver can have two or even three orders with him in the car. Who want’s to be last on that delivery route? It could be you! If you’re a regular and a good tipper, then you might have a leg up on everyone else.

    A carry out order is just easier for me and guarantees timeliness and freshness.

  5. pizzaman said

    Hmm… well I live close enough to both of these places to walk, and I normally head to Grandad’s on Morse. That should tell you something right there.

    Pizza Mart has suffered horrificly over the past couple years due to the purchase of Anheuser Busch. They used to run a _very_ brisk ‘pizza for meetings’ biz and since that has completely dried up they have slid down the hill in quality. Though they still seem to feed the local feral cats.

    Pizza House has just plain slowly been marching down the hill into obscurity. Not sure what happened there. It was decent, but not great, when I moved in 10 years ago. My wife thinks their Hawaiian with green peppers is the best example in the city though. *shrug*. They are sitll packed ~5 nights a week and make a decent but not really notable pie.

    Thoughts on delivery: I used to travel for a living. For MANY decades the USA was the only place in the world with Pizza (or anything really food wise) delivery. Sure you could get some Chinese take away in the UK and Japan, but make a call for pizza? You’d get laughed at. (I have some great stories about this) It’s not essential and many times the poor schmoes delivering these things slide your toppings off the pie anyway. Pick it up or dine in. Ensure your own success.

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