Review: Pizza Hut's New Chicago Tavern-Style Pizza And Toppings Are A Welcome Addition

As someone raised in the Midwest and who was obsessed with the Book-It! Program as a kid, I was more than excited to learn that Pizza Hut just announced the addition of four new pizzas and eight new ingredients on its menu, rolling out now.

These pizzas are marketed as "Chicago Tavern-Style," which, in the world of regional pizza styles,  means that they're made with thin, crispy cuts and cut into square slices. The tavern pizzas have a long history, originating in the 1930s South Side of Chicago, where bar owners would leave free pizzas out for customers to enjoy, hoping to entice them to stay for a round of beer (or two). The slices could be held in one hand, leaving the other free to hold a frosty mug of beer. The square-cut portions were also small and light enough to be considered a snack, unlike the hefty servings of deep dish Chicago pizza you might be more familiar with.

Along with the new toppings announced by the chain, this is one of the biggest changes to the Pizza Hut menu in over a decade, according to a press release issued by the chain. So when I had the opportunity to sample all of the new pizzas and those toppings at a special pop-up event in New York City, I jumped at the chance to revisit a taste of home.

What are the new pizzas and ingredients?

The four new tavern-style pizzas that are currently available are the Pesto Margherita Tavern Pizza, Ultimate Tavern Pizza, Spicy Chicken Sausage Tavern Pizza, and Double Pepperoni Tavern Pizza. These pies also all feature the new ingredients being rolled out (although you could add any of these new toppings to a regular Pizza Hut pizza order, as well.)

Of the four debuts, the Spicy Chicken Sausage has the most new toppings, including spicy marinara sauce, chicken sausage, fire roasted peppers, and caramelized onions. The Pesto Sauce Swirl is also shaking things up, with components like pesto sauce, freshly diced garlic, and grape tomatoes. Finally, the Double Pepperoni is adding one of my favorite toppings, crispy cupped pepperoni.

While The Ultimate also has fire roasted peppers, onions, and grape tomatoes, it keeps the regular sausage and pepperoni that Pizza Hut already has on the menu. All four pizzas feature thin, crispy crust in the tavern-style, as well as a parmesan-oregano seasoning.

How much do the new pizzas cost, and when are they available?

As of this writing, these four new selections are available nationwide, and are intended to stay on the menu indefinitely (of course, popularity and sales may affect this). As far as pizzas go, they are fairly reasonably priced, starting at $12 each for a large tavern-style pizza as they are described. You can also opt for a create-your-own one topping option on the tavern-style crust for the same price.

Unfortunately, there isn't much more room for variation. Your local Pizza Hut can't make these tavern-styles on the chain's Big New Yorker or gluten-free crusts, for one. Unsurprisingly, there is an additional charge for more toppings or extra cheese, and Pizza Hut notes that availability and pricing may vary by location. 

All of this means you should check the Pizza Hut website for options where you are located. As always, it's best to investigate first before heading to your local store, just in case the rollout hasn't reached your corner of the country yet. When I looked at the website in New York for pricing, the tavern-styles started at double the price advertised — $23.59 for a large ($12.49 for a small). But then again, it often seems that everything in NYC is double the price, so I can't say I was shocked.

What are the nutritional values of each tavern-style pizza?

Because of the crispy thin slices, the per-slice nutrition isn't as bad as you might think. First, if you're looking for a vegetarian option, the Pesto Margherita is a good choice. For a slice from the large, it's only 100 calories, 4.5 grams of fat (2 grams of saturated fat), 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein.

For the meat lovers, in a standard slice of the large tavern-style Double Pepperoni pizza, you're looking at 120 calories, 6 grams of fat (3 grams of saturated fat), 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 290 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein. In the Spicy Chicken Sausage, your calorie count in one slice is slightly better: 110 calories, 4 grams of fat (2 grams of saturated fat), 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein.

But if you really want to have a cheat day, the highest calorie and grams of fat count per slice appears in The Ultimate. One slice from this particular pizza comes out to 140 calories, 7 grams of fat (3 grams of saturated fat), 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 330 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein. To be fair, this pizza contains the most amount of toppings and is called The Ultimate.

What I thought of the Double Pepperoni and Pesto Margherita

Overall, I really loved the tavern-style crunch of the crust; I tend to order thin crust when I can get it anyway (I love meals that feel like dressed up snacks). And again, as a Midwesterner by birth, I grew up eating a variety of thin crust pizzas so they feel especially familiar and comforting. I was delighted to find that Pizza Hut's take on the recipe was crispy, yet still tasted more like pizza than a cracker, while holding the toppings without sagging or getting too greasy.

I'm always prone to craving salty over sweet snacks, so it was no surprise that my favorite tavern-style pizza was the Double Pepperoni. The new "crispy cupped" pepperoni pieces had a nice, crunchy texture and salty flavor to balance out the traditional flat pieces that made up the first layer of toppings. Every slice had a mix of both pepperoni styles, and even the server who presented it to me said he didn't "want to carry anything else," as everyone agreed it was delicious.

My next favorite was the Pesto Margherita. I'm also a garlic fiend, mincing multiple bulbs into anything I cook at home, so the mix of garlic and basil in the topping swirl was light, but appreciated. This pizza I found was the easiest to hold with one hand without losing any of the toppings, including the fresh grape tomatoes, just as the Chicago tavern-owners had intended.

Spicy Chicken Sausage and The Ultimate impressions

Next up was the Spicy Chicken Sausage. This was lower on my list only because I'm a bit of a baby when it comes to spice, and the spicy marinara definitely had enough of a kick that I was sweating and my nose was running after eating a couple slices. Understanding that I may be in the minority on the spice appeal, this could very likely become a new favorite among the Sriracha set. I did also enjoy the chicken sausage itself, as it was slightly sweeter than the normal Pizza Hut sausage I'm used to, which meant that it nicely balanced out the heat.

Finally, I'd put The Ultimate at the bottom of the new tavern-style pizzas, but not because I didn't enjoy it. Instead, it landed in that spot because it felt the most like any other traditional, thin crust supreme-style pizza I've had in the past. Additionally, because it was loaded with toppings (which many will consider a good thing!), I found it hard to take a bite without something falling on the floor — or down the front of my shirt. I did appreciate that it was a solid option for anyone who wasn't quite ready to venture too far into a new flavor realm, but wanted to taste something familiar with both veggie and meat options.


For this review of the new tavern-style pizzas, Pizza Hut invited me to its launch event in New York City. Upon entry into an East Village bar that had been converted into a tavern, complete with red-jacketed employees, an elaborate photo booth, and red flower-themed displays, I could tell the brand wanted to create an immersive, fun experience. It was also clear that Pizza Hut was targeting a younger, Instagram-friendly demographic.

They provided pizza-themed cocktails to enjoy alongside the pies, including the olive oil washed gin-based Marinara-tini and the butter washed vodka-based Sauce Boss, which came with a crispy pepperoni garnish. I sipped on the Sauce Boss, before trying the piping hot Pesto Margherita and Spicy Chicken Sausage, then switched to pairing the Marinara-tini with The Ultimate and Double Pepperoni. I enjoyed a full slice of each pizza, using the cocktails and sparkling water to wash them down, so I would have a cleansed palate in between.

Pizza Hut also provided us with take home boxes. As a cold pizza enjoyer, I was able to do a second round of sampling from the comfort of my apartment the next day. I'm happy to report that my rankings remained the same, while the pizza itself held up quite well in the refrigerator overnight, still retaining most of its crisp and fresh flavor.