I'm going to make an admission now that most likely will result in my instantly losing any and all street cred that I've worked so hard to slowly build up on Slice over the years. I sometimes order in pizza from Domino's.
I know, terrible, right? In the great pizza town of New York where great pizza is just a quick walk to the corner or a phone call away and I order from generic mega-chain like Domino's? Spongy and under-baked, Domino's falls for the classic "bland you say? Here's some garlic powder and dried parsley, how's that for flavor?!" blunder in which they attempt to make up for poor dough with a slew of pre-fab flavorings. It's the only pizza I've had that is simultaneously flavorless and overseasoned.
Even my dog disapproves, and he rarely disapproves of anything I do. Just take a look at his face. How could I?!:
Well here's the deal. Little known fact: great pizza is not available everywhere in Manhattan. I've lived in Harlem for most of my life and in my current neighborhood for two years, and I've yet to find a single delivery pizza worth ordering. Over in Morningside Heights, there are a number of good options. The venerable Sal & Carmine's tosses a mean pie. Nobody would say the slices at Koronet are incredible, but they're just fine and who cares when they're as big as my face (which means bigger than your face).
Sure, I could trek out to Patsy's in East Harlem, and I do occasionally make that voyage and it's almost always well-worth it (you have to catch their slices at the right time for true excellence).
So when is it ok to order Domino's? How about the night after you've just cooked a multi-course, multi-wine birthday dinner for your wife followed by more drinks and dancing at Red Rooster, followed by still more late night cocktails, and a late-night in-the-living-room salsa session (that's the dance, not the dip)? This, of course, is just a long-winded way of saying that we both woke up on Sunday hungover as hell with nothing but leftover beets and homemade veggie burgers in the house, neither of which make ideal hangover fodder.
No, when you're dealing with hangovers of this caliber, there's only one thing that'll do, and that's pizza. There's no way in hell I was walking to Patsy's in the state I was in, and there was no way in the greater metro hell area that I was ordering from the Halal "No Swine On My Mind" pizza joint on Lenox and 132nd (not because it's halal—the pizza is terrible).
That left one option: Domino's. Ordering was easy and it arrived at our door complete with two liters of our choice of Coca-Cola product in under one re-run episode of Top Chef. Not only that, but it's inexpensive and customizable enough that my wife can get the Hawaiian thin-crust she likes (blugh), and I can get my olives and banana peppers (my hangovers always crave spice and pickles).
It's almost a running joke between us that at least one time every year we're going to find ourselves in such a physical state that we have no choice but to order from Domino's. Are we proud? Maybe not. But the moment that first semi-hot, bland, spongy, sandy-from-cornmeal slice hits my dehydrated, nutrient-deprived tongue, it's the most delicious pizza in the world.
So tell me, Slice'rs: Do you order form the big chains? If so, when and why?
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.