As I reported earlier this week, Stewart's Shops has begun to serve pizza at assorted locations. I first saw the above sign on Monday and after an inquiry learned that the pizza operation would be in full swing on Wednesday.
On Tuesday I popped by the Delaware/Elm Ave. location in Delmar for a cup of tea and witnessed a technician of some sort installing a small, dedicated, pizza oven. A pretty professional looking one at that. This sort of surprised me because I figured the pizza was going to be some sort of microwaved frozen jobber.
Curiosity piqued, I verily did pop by around lunch time on Wednesday to assess this pizza situation. Entering the establishment I observed a flurry of activity and the faces of several unfamiliar Stewart's employees. I assumed that they were suits from Stewart's operations sent to observe the launch of the new product. I felt sort of bad for the regular employees as they looked sort of harried by all the extra activity.
Anyhow, I didn't snap a shot of the two level lexan container that contained the two types of pizza (plain, pepperoni) as it would have been hard to take pictures unnoticed and I didn't want to blow my cover. I sort of poked at the front of the pizza display looking for access, but was informed by the ever-friendly staff that they retrieve your desired amount of pizza themselves.
After requesting my desired one slice of plain and one slice of pepperoni I was asked whether or not I would like it reheated in the pizza oven. This process is pretty standard for dedicated pizza places around the area and I guess it is sort of a step up from some convenience store pizza operations. I know that one of the Hess Express' that I frequent keeps their pizza in a twirly little, rotating, heat lamp display and you just pull your slices out yourself.
You can get a whole pie in a box, but an order of just a couple slices gets handed to you thusly.
Here are my slices after the short (less than 5 minute) drive to my home.
Based on a visual inspection, there was a good bit of browning on the reasonable amount of cheese. I also noticed that the slice was well sauced as there was some liquid sauce squishing through the gaps in the cheese.
I flipped the slice over and observed a nicely browned bottom crust. This is not the pallid, pasty, underdone white crust that you may have seen in some other convenience store pizzas and you can thank the dedicated pizza oven for that.
The Stewart's Pizza is most definitely not of the NY thin crust variety. It is fairly doughy and thick, perhaps 3/4" at the crust.
Here is a slice of the pepperoni.
The pepperoni is your standard, American, thin cut, "pizza pepperoni" that you are probably very used to.
In any event, taken in totality, the Stewart's pizza is just what you would expect. It ain't pizza parlor quality by any stretch of the imagination, but as an example of the "convenience store pizza" form it holds up well.
I sort of liked the sauce, it was pretty savory and no where near as sweet as I expected. Although doughy, the pizza oven imparted a fair amount of criposity to the bottom crust. A distinct memory of ballpark pizza came to my mind. This stuff tastes like the ballpark concession pizza I used to eat as a kid. That is sort of a warm and fuzzy taste memory that added to the pleasant feelings I am beginning to have towards Stewart's pizza.
Also of note, I only had a few probing bites of each slice. My children devoured the rest with gleeful munchings. That is probably the real niche that this pizza will fall into to make it a success for Stewart's. This is perfect "kid pizza" and I already have pictures in my mind of saucy faced 4 year olds munching the stuff at the picnic tables out front.
Any avowed pizza connoisseur will immediately turn up their nose at this stuff, but come on folks. This is Stewart's pizza. Taken with the totality of the circumstances the stuff is really pretty good. What were you expecting? Bah, there is no pleasing you people...
Anyhow, go get a slice and form your own opinions. I find the whole situation of Stewart's pizza to be thoroughly amusing and I am hopping onto the bandwagon with unabashed abandon.