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The Day After 

We tried five different cold pizzas — here's what we learned

click to enlarge Pizza Pipeline's pepperoni pizza proved excellent after a little microwave love. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Pizza Pipeline's pepperoni pizza proved excellent after a little microwave love.

You know you should grab a yogurt, close the door and head to work, but damn it if last night's leftover pizza doesn't taunt you from the top shelf of your refrigerator. And don't pretend you haven't given in to this temptation. You're only human.

Indulging in leftover pizza is an American tradition and hardly something to be ashamed of. It's economical, too.

We set out to try vastly different pizzas from very different pizza places to see what sorts of pies are going to fare the best after a night or more in the fridge. Our six tasters scored the pizzas on a scale of 1 to 5, judging the pizza slices both cold and after 15 to 30 seconds in the microwave. Below are our scientific findings.

CLASSIC DELIVERY

Pizza Pipeline's Pepperoni ($15/large)

Taste test: 20 hours after purchase

The great thing about your classic delivery pizza is that it's practically made for next-day eating. The bad thing about it is that once you're out of college, that cold grease really loses its appeal, and our five taste testers gave the cold, day-old pizza a score averaging 2.6 out of 5. Scores improved when we heated the pepperoni slices up a bit. Just 30 seconds in the microwave and it doesn't taste fresh per se, but pretty damn close considering it spent the night in the fridge. So what does it take to make this a great next-day pizza? I'm thinking the cheese is the key. Overnight, the cheese got really hard and made a cold slice of the delivery pizza almost unbearable. Infuse some of that melted gooeyness back into the pizza and you'll be good to go.

Verdict: Heat before you eat, if at all possible. Otherwise, consume at your own risk.

— CLARKE HUMPHREY

GOURMET

The Flying Goat's "Fairview" ($15)

Taste test: 17 hours after purchase

By name alone, it'd be impossible to guess what this pie (named after a neighborhood street) is adorned with. So here's the North Spokane artisan pizza gurus' menu description: "Cream, cheese blend, house smoked back bacon ham, pears, blue cheese crumbles and balsamic reduction."

Setting out on this challenge, we felt it important to pick a gourmet-style pizza far from the more traditional carry-out offerings — something a little offbeat. While the Goat's pizza list is full of fancy-sounding toppings, the inclusion of pears and a balsamic reduction stood out here. Pre-taste test, predictions were that the savory, tangy flavors and thin, artisan crust would hold up well during refrigeration. It definitely did, with our five tasters' cold scores averaging 4.1 out of 5. Reheating this specialty pizza slightly altered our taste buds' perception — a couple of us didn't change our scores much, but others went the opposite way; loved it cold but didn't like the reheated version or vice versa. Most noticeably, the pear slices became mushy. After a quick nuke the sharp cheeses and salty bacon flavors jazzed up, which was more favorable to several tasters.

Verdict: Savory toppings make for a better post-purchase eating experience, but microwaved fruit is a miss.

— CHEY SCOTT

SIMPLE

Pacific Avenue Pizza's cheese with olives ($12)

Taste test: 17 hours and 15 minutes after purchase

The alchemy of cold pizza is in the cheese — the mozzarella that oozed and stretched the previous night is transformed by morning into a dense layer sealing sauce and crust. This is most obvious on your classic cheesy pie, and opinions about this pizza depended largely on whether sinking your teeth through that congealed cheese is the essential quality of cold pizza, or vaguely disgusting. I like that solid cheese layer — especially when it's studded with black olives and complemented by Pacific Avenue's tangy sauce — but all our other tasters gave higher marks to the reheated version with the cheese returned to its molten state. Here's a reader tip: If you're worried about the crust getting too hard during the reheating process, put a dish with some water in the microwave along with the slice.

Verdict: Eat it for a snack without overthinking things.

— LISA WAANANEN

THE SUPREME

Brick City Pizza's Supreme ($18)

Taste test: 18 hours after purchase

Brick City, located on 29th Avenue on the South Hill, makes a classic, thin-crust pizza that's about as close to a New York-style pie as you're going to find in these parts. Their supreme includes pepperoni, Italian sausage, onions, green peppers, olives and mozzarella cheese. It's what you'd expect when you order a "supreme" pizza.

Tasted cold, this held up very well. The cheese was thick enough to hold it together and the crust proved crispy enough to keep things from getting flimsy. Our tasters gave the cold slice an average score of 4.1, tied for highest of the bunch. After some microwaving, the scores went down, with tasters stating that the vegetables were crisper when cold.

Verdict: A sturdy (but still tasty) crust seems to be key here. As does ample cheese and fresh veggies. An additional theory as to why this supreme scored so well — Brick City doesn't mess around with mushrooms. Cold mushrooms, with their sliminess and musty scent, tend to wreak havoc on an otherwise excellent day-old slice.

— MIKE BOOKEY

THE HAWAIIAN

Monterey Cafe's Beachcomber pizza ($18)

Taste test: 16 hours after purchase

The downtown eatery is known as much for its late-night karaoke crooners as its pizza. With the Beachcomber, which features a special white sauce, mozzarella cheese, Canadian bacon, crispy regular bacon and pineapple, the joint has created a standout. Fresh out of a 650-degree oven is one thing, but what would our tasters say?

The judges were most impressed with the crust, calling it flavorful and soft, unheated or not. Cold pineapple, on the other hand, was not everyone's idea of delicious, with some judges commenting that they preferred the fruit warmed. The cold scores were lower, ranging from a 2.5 to a 4, while the warm scores ranged from 3 to 4. Of all the pizzas, the Beachcomber's margin between the cold and reheated pizza scores was the smallest: 3.6 to 3.75, the most consistent overall.

Verdict: Cold or reheated, this Hawaiian-themed pizza will taste pretty much the same.

— LAURA JOHNSON

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