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Posted on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 6:40 p.m.

Now served in Ann Arbor, Domino's new pizza recipe is worth another bite

By James Dickson

Ann Arbor Domino's Pizza stores are the first of more than 8,000 in the chain to launch its new pizza recipe, announced Wednesday.

The crust, the sauce and the cheese -  the core of the pizza - all represent major upgrades over what they replaced, Domino's is telling customers.

This writer conducted a taste test of his own, on Ann's behalf, to see whether Dominos' new pizzas are just more of the same or if they're worth another bite.


Domino's Pizza hopes that its new recipe brings new business as it approaches 50.

Courtesy, Domino's Pizza

In terms of taste, it is the latter: the pizzas really do taste better than a brand that had become tough to distinguish from its competitors. But the big question now and in the new year is whether the new Domino's flavors, along with the company's advertising and incentives, will convince pizza-eaters who've moved on to cheesier pastures to give it another try. 

The biggest improvement is in the crust, which is traditionally the weak-link of delivery pizza. Major pizza companies tend to prefer blander crusts that may not taste good but won't turn anyone off - America's experiment with cheese-stuffed crust notwithstanding.

But the new, garlic-and parsley-speckled crust at Domino's is the sign of a conscious choice in favor of flavor and makes the pizza worthwhile from first bite to last. Cheese-down, delivery pizza is delivery pizza; crust offers the biggest opportunity for a taste upgrade. People who buy Hungry Howie's pizza for the flavored crust will now be able to do the same at Domino's.

The new pizza sauce is bolder and tastier than the unremarkable, garden-variety tomato sauce it employed in the past, while the cheese is now 100 percent mozzarella.

Neither change is worth writing home about, but if you've tried Domino's Pizza in the past and decided that it's not for you, the upgrades are substantial enough to merit another shot. Even though this writer prefers his pizza New York-style, Domino's is now another worthy option on the delivery menu, a la Cottage Inn, when I want something a bit less greasy.

The pizza maker is banking on these upgrades, branding the new recipe as nothing less than a "reinvention" of the Domino's brand. Company spokesman Chris Brandon said that while Domino's has long been respected for its quality service, the company wants to be known for its menu offerings as well. No one orders pizza just because the pizza guy arrives promptly. 

"Our pizzas have obviously built a successful business," Brandon said. "But we thought that this was the time to reach out to a bigger audience and upgrade the quality of our staple product," pizza.

In recent years, Domino's has changed up its menu to keep pace with its competitors, branching out into oven-baked sandwiches, pasta dishes, and even cake. The new pizza recipe follows two years of focus groups and taste testing.'s Nathan Bomey reported that Domino's has spent more than 200,000 man-hours retraining workers in its 5,000 stores over the last two weeks.

Domino's also plans to offer incentives as the new recipe rolls out nationally, selling two medium-sized, two-topping pizzas for $5.99 each. With Little Caesar's offering "Hot and Ready" pizzas for $5 all over the country, Domino's has to fight to re-gain the attention of people who've written it off because its pies cost too much. 

Meanwhile, Ann Arborites looking to conduct a comparative taste test between new and old won't have that chance, at least not without some driving. An official with Domino's explained that when shops are outfitted with the newer pizzas, as Domino's has already done in its hometown stores in Ann Arbor, the older version will no longer be available.

The rest of the country won't get the new pizzas until Sunday, Dec. 27.

James David Dickson can be reached at, or



Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 2:05 p.m.

I'll give it a shot at some point. My personal favorite in Ann Arbor is New York Pizza Depot. Other than that, nothing really does it for me. Cottage Inn pizza is good if you like soft, soggy, and overpriced. NYPD is the closest thing to New York style I can find in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 12:24 p.m.

Yes, you left out Papa Romano's, which I think is the best chain brand pizza in Ann Arbor (AND they have coupons). I'll try Domino's again now... it's been about 5 years since I have, and probably 8 since I enjoyed it.

Jake C

Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 11:55 a.m.

@Stephenb1707: I have a feeling the kind of pizzas that Domino's has been selling for the past decade or two have very little in common with the pizzas they originally sold when they started expanding as a franchise. Maybe I'm wrong, but I imagine it's a lot like what McDonalds has done over the past half-century... you start out with a quality product, and you make it mediocre when you turn a small business into a mass-produced, chemically-enhanced brand. But like 1bit says, when you want a cheap (but decent) pizza you might go for Hungry Howie's, Jets, Domino's, Pizza Hut or Little Ceaser (and everyone probably has their personal preference, for me it's Jets), but for a good quality pizza you go for something like Pizza House, Anthony's, Silvio's or Cottage Inn (sorry if I'm leaving out someone's personal favorite here!).


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 10:19 a.m.

Same old story after a major company is sold. New owners try to cheat to make larger profits and ruin what made it great. Glad to see the change, too bad our Domino's are now closed. I will try it when I get the chance.


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 9:06 a.m.

And now that I'm awake, I can see that I had a huge reading comprehension failure. Oops!


Thu, Dec 17, 2009 : 6:46 a.m.

E G, a different article indicates the new pizza debuts on the 27th. I don't know why they have two articles to say what one could!


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 8:14 p.m.

I agree- this pizza's crust is something that you will not leave behind in the box- I even think the sauce is much improved. Good move Domino's.