What if, just like revenge, pizza is a dish best served cold? To some that may sound like a silly proposition. After all, if you ordered a pizza at a restaurant and it hit the table cold, you’d be fuming. And yet: what if?
I’m a big pizza man, and I’m still of an age where a whole pizza to myself doesn’t just seem like a good idea – it seems like the only idea. My standard Friday night line-up involves a large pizza, g-bread, and a Coke Zero to keep things healthy. But despite my penchant for ambitious orders, I’m usually left with a few slices which I’ll cheerfully scoop up and stash in the fridge. I’ll go to bed that night feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve, because tomorrow is Saturday. And that means pizza for breakfast.
There is no better feeling on earth than opening the fridge in the morning and finding a few surprise slices. Morning fridge pizza feels naughty and liberating, like eating Easter Eggs in March or having fairy bread when you’re nowhere near a kid’s birthday party. I’ve had bowls of cereal for dinner in the past, and countless pizzas for breakfast, so I can confirm that breakfast for dinner is a sad time, but dinner for breakfast is joyful and empowering.
The first time you eat pizza for breakfast as a bonafide 21-year-old adult is a seductive combination of nostalgia for meals-past, and thumbing your nose at your parents and their common-sense mealtimes. Eat a fridge slice and you’re taking a bite from a 13” pie called adulthood.
One point to cold pizza for being a thrilling breakfast ❄️
Aside from the cold-pizza-as-rite-of-passage argument, many pizzas just taste better if they’ve spent the night in the fridge. That’s mainly because I’m yet to meet a tomato sauce that doesn’t get better through a little bit of fridge time. The tomato tastes sweeter, the garlic in the sauce mellows out, and all the subtleties that had been obscured by heat suddenly have something to say for themselves.
One point to cold pizza for better-tasting sauce ❄️
A friend pointed out that there’s no argument when it comes to one aspect of this debate: pizza cheese cannot taste better cold than it does hot. On tomorrow’s cold pizza, the cheese will invariably be congealed and powdery. It’s no competition for the oozy, steamy stretch of pizza cheese straight from the oven. Can’t argue with that.
One point to hot pizza for letting cheese live its best stretchy life 🔥
Let’s take a moment to consider another aspect of this heated debate: pizza quality. I had a gut feeling that fancy pizza would taste better hot but that budget pizza – from the likes of Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Eagle Boys (R.I.P) – would taste better in cold-leftover form. So I put that hunch to the test.
I live very close to both Leonardo’s Pizza Palace and the Domino’s on Grattan Street in Carlton. For journalism’s sake, I had to make sure that both pies were comparable in size and topping. I ordered the pepperoni from Leonardo’s: a glorious eight-slice flavour frisbee, topped with sauce, cheese and oily, happy buttons of pepperoni. From Domino’s I went with The Big Pepperoni. I picked them up within minutes of one another and dashed them home.
Seeing a gourmet pizza next to a chain-produced one is a little bit like seeing a friend from your hometown talking to one of your newer friends. Two worlds are unexpectedly colliding. The result of the taste test was just as confusing. For years I sustained a fantasy that budget pies hold up to more artisanal options, but that quickly shattered when I tasted them side-by-side.
But these two pizza purveyors scratch different itches – whether good ‘za is better than average ‘za isn’t really up for debate. After sampling both hot on Friday night, I returned to eat them cold the next.
As I suspected, Domino’s held up better to refrigeration than Leonardo’s. The thicker base stayed soft, whereas Leonardo’s thinner, blistered crust – a flavour advantage in the hot pizza stakes – became brittle and lost taste. Both pizzas’ tomato sauces shone through more brightly thanks to their cool-down time, but that came at the expense of the cheese, which languished in the cold fridge.
One point to cold pizza for making average pizza taste better ❄️
One point to hot pizza for making great pizza taste even greater 🔥
Now, I tried both pizzas at dinner – not at breakfast – because I suspected a large part of my cold-pizza-fandom was based on that magical morning moment, and not on cold pizza’s merits alone. I was right. Eating cold pizza at night is heartbreaking. With each chilled bite, my faith in cold’s superiority waned. Finally, I relented, and microwaved a slice of each pizza. That was the nail in the coffin. Both varieties of reheated pizza were better than their frosty cousins.
Minus one point to cold pizza: even microwaved slices are better 🔥
Cold pizza’s enjoyment also derives from its scarcity. Two, even three slices? Incredible. Beyond that though, it becomes a story of diminishing returns.
One point to hot pizza for being just as enjoyable when consumed in excess as in scarcity 🔥
In summary, cold pizza is more seductive and nostalgic, but you can’t beat the taste of steaming hot ‘za – regardless of whether it’s straight out of the oven or reheated. Hot pizza wins. Just.