The clock was about to strike six when I called Domino's. I ordered a large Classic Hand-Tossed Italian sausage and a plain cheese pizza. The woman who took my order was exceedingly polite and said my pizza would be $12.45 and would take 30 minutes to arrive. I checked my watch a number of times, and then, like magic, at exactly 6:29 p.m., our doorbell rang. How did she know it would take exactly 30 minutes? What could Domino's possibly teach its employees in order for them to be able to tell me, to the minute, when my pizza would arrive? Or had the delivery guy been standing outside my door for the last eight minutes, waiting for the magic 30-minute signal to finally ring the bell?

Read all Slice of Heaven excerpts on Slice"CAUTION," warned the box in white letters on a red background. "Hot! CAUTION: Hot CAUTION: Hot." The pizza was in fact hot when I opened the lid. I tried the plain slice first. The outer rim of the crust, what the Neapolitans call cornicione, had a couple of big air bubbles, and fairly decent hole structure. The cheese was a predictable blanket with browned spots on top. It had no discernible taste. The sauce tasted of sugar and dried herbs and hardly at all of tomato. The Italian sausage had the merest hint of dried fennel. Assessed individually, the ingredients of a large Domino's Classic Hand-Tossed pizza with Italian sausage don't amount to much. But because it was still melted cheese on warm bread, it was kind of satisfying.

I was satisfied enough not to take Domino's up on its Total Satisfaction Guarantee: "If you are not completely satisfied with your Domino's Pizza experience, we will make it right or refund your money. Guaranteed." How can the company make that guarantee in New York, where there are scores of top-notch, by-the-slice places, not to mention coal-fired, brick-oven stalwarts like Totonno's and Lombardi's? Maybe that guarantee holds up in Ann Arbor. But surely in the Big Apple, where pizza is king, no one ends up paying for a Domino's Pizza.

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