The thing that gave me pause the most when I read the Domino's press release was the bit about the sauce: "Sweeter, bolder tomato sauce with a medley of herbs and a red pepper kick." To my taste, the old Domino's sauce was already too sweet. Making it any sweeter would push it into the realm of Papa John's, which I think has the sweetest sauce of the major chains. This was a big mistake on Domino's part, I thought.
But somehow, the "bolder" part and the "medley of herbs" and "red pepper kick" seem to balance out any additional sweetness. If anything, the sauce seems less sweet than before—maybe it's just more balanced now. The "red pepper kick" is pleasant and probably just where it needs to be to appeal to a mainstream audience. It's not too spicy but still provides a gentle heat that lingers a bit after you've finished a slice. Good job on the sauce, Domino's.
The Crust - Cross Section
When I read the press release on the crust ("garlic seasoned crust with parsley baked to a golden brown"), I mistakenly assumed the garlic and seasonings would be baked into it. When the pies I ordered yesterday afternoon arrived, I thought I had the old recipe in my hands. Despite assurances from my local Domino's on the phone and from the delivery guy, I didn't see herbs in the crust. And the bread base looked much the same as the Domino's I remembered.
The Crust - Garlic-Herb Wash
But there it was, a slight garlicky flavor. Was I imagining things, experiencing a placebo effect of flavor? I was confused. Instead of rushing out a post on Slice, I contacted Domino's representatives and double-checked whether my nearby Domino's was indeed serving the new-recipe pizza.
And then, I ordered it again today just to be sure. This time getting a half-and-half pizza: hand-tossed crust with one half sauce and cheese and the other just sauce. You know, to better taste the red stuff.
Flavor at the Rim
On inspection this morning, I realized that the garlic-herb seasoning is visually subtle. It could be mistaken for an overspray of Parmesan, which I'm used to from the mom-and-pop pizzerias I usually frequent. But if you look, there it is. Instead of impregnating the crust, the garlic-herb seasoning blend is applied to the rim of the pizza.
Crust Like Breadsticks
It's almost like the end crust, or cornicione, has now become a sort of complimentary built-in order of lightly seasoned breadsticks. If you were previously inclined to leave the end crusts as "pizza bones," maybe you should now order an extra cup of marinara sauce (50¢) and dunk 'em.
As far as "baked to a golden brown," so what? It was baked to a golden brown before. In my opinion, there's no noticeable difference in crust texture or doneness. In fact, the only thing different with the crust seems to be the addition of the seasoning. I'd imagine that those of you who don't like it could ask that they not apply it. As for the cheese, I have no idea how it's different. Domino's can talk about the "hint of provolone," but it's difficult to discern as the dough and sauce overpower any subtlety you'd hope to pick up in the cheese.