Look in the nation's best pizza kitchens and you'll often find thin crust pies baking in excess of 800 degrees in wood-fired ovens. The crisp crusts they produce are a mark of quality, and the ovens are a tool utilized by high end local pizza purveyors like La Lanterna, PizzaPlex, and Mani Osteria.
Conversely, the ubiquitous Little Caesar's is best known for inventions like the two for one "Pizza! Pizza!" deal, the intestine jamming $5 Hot-N-Ready, and – most recently – the convenient Pizza Portal
, which is essentially a pizza vending machine. In other words, it's quantity over quality and efficiency over excellence in the Ilitch pizza kingdom. In fewer words, it's fast food.
So the rumors of an artisanal, wood-fired Little Caesar's pizza inside Little Caesar's Arena piqued our interest, especially because those spreading the rumors praised it. The company's press folks confirmed the pie's existence, but said it's only available in an exclusive club in the Pizza Palace's depths, or in its suites. Thus the common Hot-N-Ready customer may have difficulty accessing it, which ain't cool.
Little Caesar's PR folks even denied Metro Times
' food page's request to sample the pizza. Fortunately, Metro Times
writer Jack Roskopp is a devoted and well-connected Kid Rock fan, and he tried the pie in a LCA suite during the Macomb County rocker's six night stand.
So is Little Caesar's wood-fired pizza better than what you can grab out of the Pizza Portal?
It certainly beats the standard slice, Roskopp tells us. And the distinguishing feature – of course – is the crust.
"It's super thin and crunchy. Not as greasy as the usual pizza, and kind of a like a cracker – not like a flat bread. It wasn't really chewy, but more crumbly. That's the thing that stood out – the crust, because it was extra thin."
Roskopp says his pie came with light sauce and "fancier ingredients" like diced tomatoes and better-than-usual sausage. The cheese, however, "wasn't better than a regular Little Caesar's Pizza" and "not particularly gooey or stringy."
On the whole, Roskopp finds Little Caesar's wood-fired pie "a little more bougie than other Little Caesar's pizza."
We'll start the petition for the inclusion of wood-fired pies in the Pizza Portal.