Round One - Ian's Pizza on State
Today, we check out Ian's Pizza, a downtown Madison landmark right off the Capitol Square at the top of State Street.
While they can prepare custom pies, they are generally known for fresh made salads and a row of creative pizzas that are pre-made and ready to be re-heated for each order. I call that a "NYC" model of take-out, and you are invited to correct me if necessary.
In any case, you pick your choice and they'll pull what you want from the table and slip into the convection oven.
As mentioned in our previous blog post about Taste Test rules, I ordered a slice of Pepperoni.
The pizza at Ian's is a nice value, especially since they are located in the shadow of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. Most other restaurants surrounding Ian's are semi-upscale (even the "retro tavern" establishments will hit you for checks in the double-digits for lunch). That makes Ian's an ideal location for families, students, and cheapskates like me.
The prices are $2.50 for a slice of Cheese or Pepperone, and $3.00 for a specialty slice. Choices of specialties range from Italian specialties with basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzerella to sliced steak with french fries. Plus, they feature a couple of creative slices a month.
You can check out their website here.
After a wait of a little over 5 minutes, I'm handed my hot slice of pizza on a thin paper plate.
I decided to take a "component" approach to these reviews.
Overall impression - the pizza was delivered super-hot, which is a mixed blessing. You appreciate that it is hot and fresh, but you are a little annoyed that you can't eat it yet. Still, it's a good slice. Score: 4 out of a potential 5.
Crust - it gets points for being a classic thin crust pizza. The bottom is crispy due to the reheat process, yet the overall crust remains fairly chewy. One danger comes when the crust bubbles up underneath the topping, creating an island of toasted crust instead of cheese. Score: 6 out of a potential 10. (This category is weighed heavily because crust makes the pizza, just like bread makes the sandwich.)
Cheese - had a pretty good grease level and was not overly stringy. This is a good thing, since you don't want your toppings to pull away from the pizza with each bite. Score: 4 out of 5.
Sauce - Accessible. Not too sweet. Decent. Score: 3 out of 5.
Pepperoni - Modest in quantity and it was soft on top of the pizza. (That's neither good nor bad, just an observation.) It gets extra points for being quite "peppery." Score: 4 out of 5.
Price/Value - Only $2.50 for a pretty prime piece of real estate. Plus, the portion size is just dandy. You really could eat just one slice for lunch, if you have that kind of discipline. Score: 5 out of 5
So, Ian's weighs in with a solid score of 26 (out of a potential score of 35). Pretty good showing to take the top spot so far.
Taste Test Madison's Pizza Scoreboard
1. Ian's on State