Phatphood 4 Pizzas 4 Hours 4 Reviews: One of my friends that enjoys my reviews suggested that I try all of the personal style pizza restaurants that offer Subway style pizzas in just a few minutes. Two of them have been around the metro area for several years now and two recently just opened in the metro. I went to all four…in one day. Four pizzas, in four hours…Woo!
Don’t worry, I had help…I brought my eldest. A 15-year-old adolescent that I felt could add some input on this new generation of fast pizza and also help to devour four pies. I timed each pizza from when they put it in the oven to when I received it. Also, I ordered one regular size soft drink at each restaurant and that is included in the price mentioned. From worst to best, here they are:
4. Pizza Studio – located on level 3 south mall, 340 South Ave Bloomington, MN at the Mall of America. The mall was very busy today and so was Pizza Studio. It is a small cramped cubbyhole with a similar mall patio to dine on. The line to order your personal pizza will have customers already seated staring inches away at your butt so be sure to freshen up prior to ordering on a busy day. With the small quarters, it is very loud. Yes, the mall is loud already but then you have their automated pizza oven that has fans that sound like a jet engine. Add the spit guard that you have to talk through and it becomes a scream match along with a lot of “what?” They should really think of just having a check off sheet with what you want. There weren’t many places to sit so a majority of the customers had no choice but to get their order to go.
Once I made it through the seven-minute line I ordered an unlimited build-my-own creation pizza with traditional crust, marinara, crispy bacon, nitrate free pepperoni, spicy pork sausage, chicken breast, caramelized onions, jalapeños, mozzarella cheese, and truffle salt. They ask you your name when they get things started and greet and welcome each customer, which is nice.
They don’t put much cheese on your pizza and if you ask for extra they will gladly do so, but not without warning you that “with how our oven cooks, it will be soggy.” While in line waiting to pay I witnessed an employee dicing greens at the cutting/plating/boxing station slice her finger. They replaced the knife she was using but didn’t notice any other clean up process. Yum. The gentleman that was taking orders, making the dough and starting your pizza experience was like a one-man-band. He immediately took over once the other employee cut herself and was handling the chaos that surrounded him very well. He is shown in the picture carrying boxes all at once to the boxing station. Give this dude a raise.
Once I received my pizza, at first glance you could tell it was unevenly cooked. The center was pretty doughy while the outer edges were burnt. The bottom was pretty much burnt as well. With all of the meats I chose, the pizza was naturally greasy. The soft drink station was out of napkins and the table we were sitting at did not have a dispenser at all. We had to finally ask the neighboring table for theirs. You can see in the pictures that my hand was covered in grease as well as the drippings with the shot of the undercooked dough. Wasn’t too excited about the pizza. It was pretty basic. Average amount of toppings and most of the pepperoni was burnt. I kind of don’t mind that though. My eldest said that he would never come back at all.
As we were leaving we went to throw away our aftermath but the only two trash stations were overfull as shown. You can also see in the picture that if you were to sit in that special location on the mall patio you get to be in everyone’s way as they throw their trash out and you get to smell every bite that wasn’t eaten. They offer four different variety of thin crust. The place is not meant for a mall environment. It’s too small of a location. Needs a silencer on the oven fan. No take out menu seen, no plates available or given so we had to lean over the tray that our pizza came on, but really we just let it drip on the table. This place was one big cluster mess. 1/5 – $9.98 – 5:04
3. Punch Neapolitan Pizza – 8353 Crystal View Rd. Eden Prairie, MN. Upon arrival to the parking lot, it was a bit confusing. Went to two different doors before finding the third one that was the actual entrance. Boy did we look dumb. Once we finally made it inside, we were greeted by a hostess/waitress that takes your order and you pay before you seat yourself (the only one out of the four that you pay first). She was nice and explained how things work very, very thoroughly. The Punch menu seems a bit more complicated with many choices, but did not have the same options as the others. We wanted to make the pizza with the same topping throughout this eating journey, but this hybrid pizza restaurant made that a bit difficult.
We went ahead with the “craft your own pizza” and out of the two sauce options we chose margarita, made with basil and added sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto (because they have no bacon…you read that right NO BACON!!!) and piparras pepper since they didn’t have jalapeños either. Was told it would be about five minutes and to go ahead and have a seat and it will be brought out to us.
While waiting I cased the joint. This place definitely has more of a restaurant appeal to it rather than a fast food pizza shack, hence hybrid. Classic Italian music was played throughout, including the restroom. Their wood fire oven was the star of the show as you can see in the picture. The soft drink station was a bit outdated but was clean and organized. The space was very open and spacious like a studio apartment with a cool oven. The hostess/waitress brought out the pale looking pizza in good time as well as utensils and what were these round things? Plates! This was the only place to offer this necessity on this food adventure. If you see two people order one pizza you would think they are going to share and would need something other than what the pizza comes on. Kudos Punch.
Now this pizza didn’t look as appetizing as the others by all means. Guess what? Didn’t taste all that good either. Their dough was soft and chewy but in a good way, that’s if you enjoy a crust on our pizza. The center of the pizza was thin (unlike the outer crust which was billowy) and with the amount of grease under the cheese along with the sauce, everything slid right off as you grabbed a slice as a piece of topless pizza lays limp in your hand. With some marinara sauce, the outer crust would be great to dip in and enjoy alone. Definitely not worth the price and just not a huge fan. On the bottom of their take out menu it reads “SECOND CHANCE FOR PIZZA ROMANCE? Don’t like your pizza? Tell us – no matter how busy we are ! Come to the pick-up counter and we’ll remake it in 90 seconds.” Awesome! However, I didn’t notice that until I left. Plus I doubt I could eat another. Good chances I won’t be going back unless it is to try their chocolate hazelnut panini, which I heard is grand. 2/5 – $15.72 – 4:34
2. Solos Pizza Cafe – 2700 Annapolis Cir N. Plymouth, MN. I’ve been coming to this place for a while and I typically get a White Hen, but like I mentioned, I want to keep things as similar as possible to compare. So we went with the Brick House which includes; Marinara, pepperoni, sausage and smoked bacon. I added grilled chicken and jalapenos. Here they offer two different sizes, a seven-inch and a ten-inch. With the options of having original, thin or whole wheat crust. Naturally I went with larger size and original crust for comparison once again. Not because I’m starving. The signs posted on the wall aid you in making your decision and make it quite simple in doing that. After they put ample amount of toppings on, they add a little more mozzarella to top it off. Nice touch.
You pay, they give you a number and you go sit until they bring it to you. Once again, no other plates brought out or offered. The only thing available at the counter for customers to help themselves to were to-go boxes. The pizza looked wonderful. Tons of jalapenos accompanied all of those delicious meats with plenty of cheese to stretch around the table we sat at. At Solos, they use garlic butter around the outer crust as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven. I love it, but today they seemed to add a bit much. It created a butter latte that ran down the back of the crust and all over the bottom of the pizza. I usually don’t mind a butter overload, but this along with the grease created by all of the meats create a slick situation. Still it was a wonderful tasting pizza with a generous amount of toppings. Their crust is very much similar to the one at Punch, but butter lathered on makes up for any dryness. Another greasy mess, yet a good tasting one at that. 4/5 – $12.16 – 5:44
1. Pizza Rev – 525 Blake Rd. #110. South Edina, MN. The new boys in town with their second location after their first successful location opened in Hopkins earlier this year. Very simple concept, craft your own pizza at one price of $7.95. Choose one of two dough options, original or gluten-free (which is a $2 upgrade). Four sauce choices and similar cheese selections as the others offered. The have a dozen of meat options and even more vegetable options.
I chose to craft my own instead of picking one of eight pre designed options. Sticking with a the game plan we went with original crust, red sauce, spicy pepperoni, Italian sausage, crumbled beef meatballs, crispy bacon, grilled chicken and jalapenos. It wasn’t busy at all and they were very helpful and friendly all the way throughout from the greeter/artist to the cashier to the general manager working on the Coke Freestyle machine. They use an open flamed stone bed oven that is monitored very closely by a single person. No timers, just watching and checking on it with the naked eye.
After I paid, we went and sat near the window to watch cars park at this Edina strip mall that Pizza Rev just opened it. Yay. Wasn’t sure if I was to hang out at the cashier for my pizza or if they bring it to me, so I wandered back up there until it came out. I noticed they had a nice condiment counter with everything you need…except for plates. That’s right, we weren’t given or even offered them once again. Ugh, the struggle.
This pizza came out looking perfect. Perfect design, perfect thin crispy crust, not greasy at all, just a beautiful looking za! Everything tasted fresh. They also have a Coke Freestyle machine complementing the in-and-out casual dining experience with already many options. I was fortunate enough to get to speak with the manager on duty prior to leaving and asked if they had plates available. He said they did, and that he would implement that in with the cashiers and perhaps leave some on an available stand near the condiment station. He took suggestions very well and seemed like he would go with mine. I like a place that is willing to make changes at the first sign of a customer’s good ideas. Great first experience here all around. Very tasteful pizza and a young and eager welcoming staff. The newbie’s in this state have done their homework and came to stomp the competition. Well done. 5/5 – $9.34 – 4:33
So, we tried a few similar places with different results. Pizza Rev is the cheapest and the fastest. Pizza Studio has the most crust options. Solos Pizza Café you get the most for your money. Punch is more of a get your pizza fast restaurant with a full menu including starters, desserts and alcoholic beverages. Maybe they shouldn’t have even been a part of this four-hour tour. They all have different cooking methods but similar concepts. Yes, some were busier than others with or without help of Labor Day weekend. But the quality lies within the entire product under any circumstance. You now have a few options to choose from now with all of these Subway style pizza joints opening up…I picked a favorite, which will you choose to be yours?
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