I Tried MOD Pizza For The First Time And I'll Never Go Back

While MOD Pizza's been on my radar for a few years, what with it being named one of the fastest-growing new pizza chains and all. I admit that I'd never really found it worth my while to drive across town and check it out. I know the chain's whole shtick is how the pizza is super-customizable; hence the name's being an acronym for "made on demand." But so what? These days Pizza Hut and Domino's also allow you to order your pizza in what may actually amount to billions of different combinations. (No hyperbole intended: According to some calculations, the billion+ figure is quite literal.)

Still, even if MOD Pizza isn't as unique as it's cracked up to be, it is pretty popular, so I figured maybe I should see whether all the hype is justified. In order to give it a fair shake, I ordered a variety of different items: a pizza, a pocket pie, a salad, a dessert, and a beverage. Even though the pizza and salad I ordered were mini versions, the total still came to over $35 with tip, which is way more than I've ever paid for such a small amount of food from a pizza chain before. So was it worth it? You've read the title; you know the answer.

The pizza itself wasn't terrible

I started with the pizza, which was a variety called "Calexico." Yes, I know MOD's all about designing your own pizza, but a billion or so choices can be overwhelming so sometimes I prefer to order off the preset menu. While I'd assume "Calexico" is meant to be a portmanteau of "California" and "Mexico," the pizza itself is basically Buffalo chicken + jalapeños. The latter ingredient could possibly be associated with Mexico, but Buffalo chicken comes from Buffalo, New York, so zero points to MOD for basic geography. Apart from the name, though, the pizza wasn't bad. Not great, but not bad.

To start with the good(ish) points, there was a generous amount of jalapeños, and I do like jalapeños. The chicken, however, was sparse, but what there was of it was relatively tender and chicken-like, not rubbery. The pizza crust wasn't too thick and was slightly chewy. While it wasn't my preferred type of more cracker-like thin crust, at least it wasn't all limp and floppy. I did like the blue cheese crumbles, which were the most flavorful part of the pizza, but the fact that the pizza tasted of little more than blue cheese and jalapeños (fairly mild ones, at that) points up its main flaw: There was way too little sauce. Without sauce, pizza is just cheesy bread with stuff, and that's what MOD is dishing up. If they doubled the amount of sauce, it would still be barely enough.

The pocket pie was bland

The pocket pie, a recent introduction to the MOD menu, is the pizza chain's vaguely taco-shaped take on Papa John's Papadia. It's meant to be around for the proverbial "limited time only," but as far as I'm concerned, it's already worn out its welcome. Checking back over the notes I made on first trying it, I summed it up in three words: sloppy, soggy mess.

Not only was the pocket pie limp, dripping, and not remotely fun to eat, but it was also bland and flavorless. I ordered the Italiano, which was the only variety made with red sauce, but once again, the sauce was hardly in evidence and I couldn't actually taste it at all. The white sauce, however, was overabundant, gluey, and weird and seemed to drown all the other fillings. Once the pocket pie cooled down a bit the sauce congealed, making it a bit easier to eat without the crust completely dissolving (as it seemed well on its way to doing when the pie was still warm), but the flavors, such as they were, deteriorated even further. The pocket pie was, as they say in book reviews, a DNF – did not finish.

The salad and cake were disappointing, too

The one item in my order that I was most looking forward to was the Italian chop salad since I love a nice hearty antipasto salad. In theory, the combination of salami, mozzarella, parmesan, and chickpeas on a bed of lettuce sounded like it would be right up my alley and I toyed with ordering a medium, but I'm glad I stuck with the mini. The one ingredient in the salad that I don't really care for, that being green peppers, was the most abundant. To make matters worse, the peppers were diced fine, making them much harder to pick out and remove than if they'd been sliced into rings. What really killed the salad, though, was the "zesty Roma dressing" which tasted of sugar water and was so oily it turned the salad into a limp, greasy mess.

The one other item on my order, MOD's signature No Name cake, did little to redeem my meal. Essentially what it is, is a generic version of a Hostess Ding Dong – the same chocolate cake, vanilla cream filling, and chocolate glaze. Same round shape, same flavor, same texture. Higher price, of course. It wasn't the worst dessert I've ever eaten, but it wasn't quite what I'd been expecting, either.

I'd just as soon have frozen pizza

Overall, my MOD Pizza meal did not leave a favorable impression and in fact, the best part of it was the San Pellegrino Limonata I ordered as my beverage. Kudos to MOD for offering this pricey but tasty sparkling lemonade as it actually makes a pretty great pizza accompaniment. Still, I can (and do) buy this stuff at Dollar Tree for $1.25 and honestly I'd rather have had it with a Dollar Tree frozen pizza instead of MOD Pizza's pricey disappointments. Kind of sad when you realize that a $5 Dollar Tree meal (with a bag of chips standing in for the salad and a real Hostess cake for the faux one) would have been equally satisfying, if not more so.

Needless to say, I do not plan to return to MOD Pizza anytime soon, or perhaps ever. While the pizza itself wasn't the worst I've ever had, it was mediocre at best. The rest of my order, apart from the drink, left me with some serious regrets and a bad taste in my mouth that was both literal and metaphorical.