Tough Pizza Critics on 'The Office'

"It's like eating a hot circle of garbage." —Kevin Malone

20071012pizzabyalfredo.jpgMichael: Good news.
Stanley: We get to go home?
Michael: Guess who just ordered from your favorite pizza place, Alfredo's?
Kevin: Wait. Alfredo's Pizza Cafe? Or Pizza By Alfredo?
Michael: Same thing.
Everyone: [grumbling] No. No it isn't.
Michael: Alright I don't understand when you all talk at the same time.
Kevin: Oscar, talk to him.
Oscar: Michael, there's a very big difference between these two pizza places, both in quality of ingredients and overall taste. Which one did you order from?
Michael: Pizza By Alfredo [Everyone grumbles]
Michael: Alright. OK, OK. What is better: a medium amount of good pizza or all you can eat of pretty good pizza?
Everyone: Medium amount of good pizza.
Kevin [alone with camera in conference room]: Oh no, it's bad. It's real bad. It's like eating a hot circle of garbage.

LOCAL CALLING PLAN There are many things to love about last night's episode of The Office. First among them the fact that so much of it was devoted to pizza in general. But really, what's interesting to note is that when it came to ordering pizza for the employees, uber-incompetent boss Michael Scott did not call a major chain. Instead, he went local, ordering from Pizza By Alfredo.

I suspect that turn had less to do with an abiding love of mom-and-pop restaurants on the producers' part and more with practicality. Loyal watchers of the show know that The Office loves its product placement (hello, Staples and Chili's). But in pursuing a plot point in which one pizzeria's product is described as "a hot circle of garbage," there's no way they'd be able to rope the major chains into appearing head to head.

And, the writers may have rightly sensed that nobody would believe that, say, Domino's or the Hut had better pizza than a local establishment. It's been my observation that no matter how bad a local place is, it's almost always better than a chain.

EVERYBODY LOVES PIZZA But what was even more notable was how animated everyone in the office became on the subject of pizza. They all perked up and had something to say about the offerings of the two similarly named rivals. Not only that, but Oscar proved himself to be something of the office pizza aficionado, since Kevin seemed to defer to him in reasoning with Michael about the relative merits of both the Alfredos. Oscar became passionate and opinionated about the difference in quality. I'd like to think that if Oscar were real, he'd be reading Slice on the sly while at the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch.

YOU SAY ALFREDO'S, I SAY RAY'S The Alfredos name confusion might be taken as a slight nod to the Big Apple's own Ray's conundrum. New Yorkers, of course, know what I mean, but for the rest of y'all, we've got a number of "Ray's" pizzerias around town—Ray's, Famous Ray's, Original Ray's, Famous Original Ray's, World Famous Original Ray's, and, my favorite, Not Ray's. Anyone familiar with pizza in New York could not help but smirk at the Alfredo's Pizza Cafe—Pizza By Alfredo mix-up and the impassioned argument for one over the other.

WATCH IT Anyone who missed the episode can catch up online here: But do it fast—I think NBC only lets you watch for free a week after air date.

DELIVER ME FROM EVIL Oh, and you know how poorly the treated the delivery kid? Holding him hostage and then giving him a measly two-dollar tip? Always remember to tip the pizza guy.

Photograph from effstwap on Flickr