By Doug Deal
Macon Community News
Few things are more enjoyable than a nice slice of pizza or two paired with a salad and a drink for a refreshing lunch during a busy day. Generally, the service is fast, and you can find deals at a reasonable price. Macon is loaded with options for a pizza slice lunch, and this month our food review will compare and rank eight different choices.
The rules were simple: each restaurant must offer pizza by the slice, preferably in a combination deal that may include a drink with or without a salad. I then scored each meal based on five factors: quality of the food, value of the deal, quality and speed of the service, atmosphere, and satisfaction.
Since this was mostly about the food and spending power, food quality was weighted at 35%, and I weighted value at 25%. Atmosphere and service were both 10% of the final score, and the last 20% was given for how we felt after the meal was over, a factor I named satisfaction.
For each category, each restaurant received a score of one to five points, with one meaning terrible and five being excellent. An average rating was defined as a score of three. The best in each category received a score of five automatically. Final scores were obtained by weighting the scores as described above.
To keep the food quality score on an even comparison, each pizza slice lunch had at least one slice that was a two topping of pepperoni and heavy onion, my personal favorite.
Restaurants visited during this competition were all restaurants that I have visited many times over the years and consisted of (in order of visit): Pig on a Pie, Sauced at Mercer Village, The Brick – Macon, Johnny’s New York Style Pizza off of Zebulon Road, Fatty’s Pizza, Doughboy Pizza, Greek Corner Pizza and Ingleside Village Pizza.
The bottom line was that each place had its ups and downs, but overall each one was a great place to catch a reasonably priced lunch. I came to think of rankings as comparing the major leagues of pizza, where even the worse is better than the average pizza found at the big dominant delivery chains.
8. Johnny’s New York Style Pizza
Johnny’s offers a two-slice one-topping lunch deal with a drink for $6.55. I got a pepperoni and heavy-onion slice that incurred an extra topping charge for one slice and sausage for the other. The pizza slices were large and thin as NY style suggests, but were greatly over-cooked to the point of having a slightly burnt taste. I like a well-done crust occasionally, but it is not my favorite. It is more of a novelty I crave from time to time. Service was good, as usual, and Johnny’s fits the look and feel of a family-owned local pizza place, although it is a chain. The value was good, but the dry and overcooked nature of the slice gave me an unsettled feeling as I headed back to the office.
7. Pig on a Pie
Pig on a Pie in South Bibb on Houston Road had the lowest price deal with a two-topping, two-slice and drink deal for $5.70. Their pizza was also well done, and the slices were on the smaller side. The dining room could use some maintenance, and the service was not bad, but nothing special. The takeaway was refreshing and filling and worth the cost.
6. Fatty’s Pizza
Fatty’s offered the best value with a two-slice combo and drink for $5. Slices were smaller than some of the other places and were quite greasy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if that is what you like and sometimes that fancy strikes me. In a way, the oil reminded me of Detroit-style pizza due to the slightly fried feel to the crust. Still, the slices were somewhat floppy which made them difficult to eat when combined with the oiliness. Folding your slice is the best option here. The atmosphere is quaint and gives you a hole-in-the-wall, big-city pizza place vibe. They had the best value at $5. Due to the oiliness, I did feel a bit of indigestion afterward, but nothing overwhelming. This factor cost them on the satisfaction score.
5. The Brick
The best of the bottom four was The Brick with their slice, salad and drink combo for $8. The pizza at The Brick is usually my favorite, but we caught them on a bad day, and the crust had a quality that is unusual for their restaurant. Perhaps it was undercooked or perhaps too much flour was applied to slide it into the oven, but in any event, it had a slightly raw floury taste and texture. Although massive, the toppings on the slice were the sparsest of all of the offerings. Still, the slice packed a flavorful punch, and the salad was the best by far. Service was excellent, as they won top honors there, with the venue being clean and roomy, scoring above average in atmosphere. The meal was filling and enjoyable.
4. Ingleside Village Pizza
A favorite of many in Macon, Ingleside Village Pizza placed as the last of our top four with a slice, drink, and salad combo for $6.25. The slice was one of the smallest offered but was loaded with toppings. It came with a small salad, but it was of great quality and had a delightfully tangy dressing. The cheese, pepperoni, or both, gave up a lot of oil and resulted in the oiliest of all the pizza tasted. I would recommend letting it cool slightly and perhaps absorbing it with a napkin. Still, the flavor was great. The service (ordering and bringing food to the table) was slower than I prefer for lunch and the restaurant filled up even though I arrived early. This is a good sign about how much of a following they have, but not the best for a quick lunch. The crowded dining room also dinged their atmosphere rating, even though the decor is a must-see.
3. Greek Corner Pizza
Greek Corner Pizza offered pizza by the slice but no true combo. I ordered two slices, pepperoni and heavy onion, and sausage on the other with a drink for $7.70. The slices were quite large with a dense and heavy crust. If you like a more rigid crust, this may meet your preference. The service was friendly and quick and the dining area comfortable and roomy. Greek pizza is a slightly different and exceedingly enjoyable experience that left me very satisfied for the rest of the workday.
2. Doughboy Pizza
Doughboy pizza offers a two slice combo for $5.50 with a $1 charge for a drink for a total of $6.50. The slices are nearly as large as what you get at the brick, with a thin but not floppy crust. Service was excellent with the owners’ son acting as the manager, coming over to check on us frequently, but not enough to be annoying. The decor has old albums on the wall, but the dining room is a little oddly shaped with some trip hazards here and there. Although the crust was lighter in color, it had a perfect texture, with an outside crunch and a slight internal chewiness, the crust sweet-spot. Both of us left full and satisfied with the pleasant satisfaction of a spectacular lunch.
1. Sauced at Mercer Village
Sauced, located in Mercer Village, was our first place finisher. Their offering was a slice, drink and upgraded salad for $7.50. The worst thing about them is their dining room furniture which is uncomfortable but functional. Value scored an above average, as the large slice and small salad were not quite up to the value of the best of their competition, but still a great deal. Everything else scored an excellent with satisfaction and food quality coming in best in category. The crust was perfect, thinner with that outer crunchiness and inner chewiness that I crave, and no oiliness. The salad was small, but paired nicely with the pizza, having a tangy Caesar dressing. Service was prompt and friendly, perfect for relaxing during a stressful day at the office. The rest of the afternoon was of thoughts of returning for another slice soon.
In the end, any of these places will give you a good pizza slice lunch, and from day to day they will have some variance in their scores as different cooks and different days can yield different results. The top seven were all locally owned restaurants with Johnny’s being a franchised small/regional chain. The one fact that permeated all of their scores is that each one beats the pants off the five large chains you can find in Macon. Why waste your hard-earned dollars on Pizza Hut or Dominoes when you can experience pizza that isn’t streamlined to be made as cheaply as possible?
Congratulations to Sauced for winning our head-to-head battle. In the future, we would like to do a battle royale for the best all-American burger. If you have a suggestion for a similar contest, let us know.