While we think mom-and-pop shops make the best pizza in the nation, we'd be remiss if we didn't keep abreast of what the chains are up to. Suit up, it's time for another Chain Reaction, folks.
"Jet's Pizza is the seventeenth largest pizza chain in the nation..." That's straight from the company's own website. It struck me as strange; I don't know where the cutoff is for trumpeting your overall rank, but 17 would seem to be below it. That was the first thing that I found odd about my virgin experience with Jet's Pizza. The next came when I read the box. I'm sure what the marketing gurus for the Michigan-based chain meant was, "Eat Pizza That's Better Than the Crap You Ordered Last Time From Somewhere Else." But "Eat Better Pizza" could easily read as an apologetic, self-deprecating commentary on what you're about to consume.
Square deep dishes are what Jet's is best known for. The most celebrated of the bunch is their 8-Corner Pizza, where each of the octet of slices has its own corner crust. But wait, you say. Isn't that just a pair of small square pies shoved into the same box? Yes. Yes it is. But a name like that wouldn't look good on the menu, would it?
Their gimmickry (and my smart-assery) aside, this was pretty decent. The crust had a deep golden hue with a nice bit of crispness to the very bottom. The amount of oil used to achieve such a result, though, does leave a noticeably greasy residue; this is a multiple-napkin slice. Once you're past that crunchy exterior, the rest of the crust is airy and buttery, a welcome change of pace from the usual chain nastiness referenced in Jet's slogan.
The round pies are another matter. I opted for the New York Bold Fold, a large hand-tossed crust topped with "premium" mozzarella and "spicy" pepperoni. The quotation marks are mine, because neither ingredient seemed truly deserving of its adjective. The Bold Fold is cut into just six slices, as if a wider wedge is all it takes to figuratively whisk me away to the Lower East Side.
Personally, length does more for me than width (easy, gutterbrains, we're still talking about pizza)... but flavor trumps all. And the Bold Fold didn't have much. The crust was densely dull and overly chewy... and perhaps why Jet's will "flavorize" your crust for free upon request. Choices for your custom cornicione range from the basic (shredded Parm, butter) to the just plain weird (poppy seed, sesame seed, Cajun) to the extreme (butter + garlic + Romano = Turbo Crust!)... but I'm skeptical that any of these add-ons would help this lunchroom-cafeteria-style dough.
Maybe I'd add Jet's deep dish to my rotation of delivery pizzas when I just need dinner on the table and want something a bit different. But I wouldn't seek it out over Domino's or Papa John's or Pizza Hut or any of the 16 other chains that Jet's is staring up at. And with no shortage of independent shops in my ZIP code who'll gladly drive a pie to my door, I'd probably just follow Jet's own advice to "Eat Better Pizza."
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. He'll crawl out of his cave for a few hours on February 25, 2012 for International Serious Eats Day. He's normally very antisocial... but he'll make a special exception in order to meet you. Stop by Ormsby's (you can RSVP here) for a cocktail, a nosh, some lively conversation, and maybe a game of bocce.