Oh, the excitement. The whisper went up and down Union Street that Domino’s was on its way. Where would it be?
The old off-licence, maybe? One of the grand places with Victorian statues on it? It turned out to be a little unit next to the bank, in pole position right opposite Wetherspoons. Hang on a minute… opposite? Yes, that’s right, over the road. The eternal symmetry of Ryde has been compromised, as the distinctly proletariat Domino’s takes a place alongside the posh shops on the east side of Union Street – whereas every other fast food outlet is on the west side. Change, on the Isle of Wight? What are things coming to? Well, if the retired colonels of Ryde were licking their nibs in choleric rage at such heresy, nobody noticed in the rush to go and buy pizza. Certainly such a well-known brand touching down was a talking-point of some significance – you’d think a branch of Waitrose had opened for the amount of gossip it generated. So, soon enough, Matt took junior reviewer Bill to see whether Domino’s was worth all the fuss.
One thing they noticed was that the place was full of staff. In fact, it was teeming. Bustling, smartly-uniformed folk were almost tripping over one another inside as they rushed around preparing pizza. It was all happening right there to watch, which was interesting in itself. Massive piles of pizza boxes stood ready to receive the precious pies. A lot of the trade seems to be delivery, and in fact the take-away counter is relatively small. Matt and Bill had ordered by phone and gone to pick up: only 15 minutes later on a busy evening their pizzas were ready. Certainly the service is impressively quick, if a bit brusque. But you don’t go to Domino’s for a nice chat – and Bill and Matt didn’t get one, although they did get two large pizzas for £19.98.
Taking them home was enjoyable – the boxes issued forth jets of hot steam which smelled deliciously of pepper and herbs. The chaps soon got their prizes indoors and on the table. Another bonus for the bachelor diners: no washing-up is created as the pizza boxes unfold to dispense the precut pizzas most effectively. Each box came with a free pot of herb and garlic dip for the crusts, which was a nice touch.
So, to the pizzas. What were they like. Matt and Bill had chosen a Domino’s Tandoori Hot® and a Domino’s Deluxe®. These both looked pretty well topped with their respective toppings, which in the case of the hot pizza included a generous sprinkling of jalapeño peppers and tandoori chicken. The diners tucked in and were well-satiated, even leaving a few slices behind to cool off in their cardboard container for latecomer Jack to nibble at later on. Pizza, unlike most other takeaway staples, is almost as good cold as it is hot.
2 large pizzas (price for collection only) £19.98
Now, let’s not get too excited here. These pizzas were good, but not brilliant. The dough and base got top marks from Matt – clearly freshly-baked and soft, this beats any kind of pre-prepared pizza right from the start. The toppings did also include some fresh ingredients; onion, mushroom and pepper were all freshly-cut. The cheese and tomato was a bit thin on the ground, but Domino’s pizza is not really much to do with the Italian classic style – far from it. Let’s take an example. When you order a Domino’s Meateor®, cast aside any romantic thoughts of ancient olive groves and hot Mediterranean sun on fields of rosemary: no, what you get instead is a mighty blast of MEAT in a kind of treacly ketchup, pumped onto a quivering slab of pizza-dough in a Tudor-rose shape before cauterising. If a fresh basil-leaf came anywhere near this creation it would faint with terror. And yet there’s a simple delight in eating such lowest common denominator fodder. Not all Domino’s® pizzas are quite so full-on, but they all have fairly robust character to them, to say the least. Matt and Bill, both avid curry fans, really enjoyed the Tandoori Hot®, which really did have genuine bits of tandoori chicken on it, and enough jalapeño to bring tears to their eyes. Bill even went so far as to say that Domino’s was as good as Pizza Express – but benefited from far, far faster service. Clearly, you don’t get to sit down at Domino’s – you wouldn’t have time to, anyway – but it’s an interesting comparison.
If you were not expecting to like Domino’s, you’re probably right, you won’t. In the words of former Olympic athlete, socialite, and fashion model, Ivana Trump, “it is what it is, dahlink”. Domino’s makes no effort whatsoever to pretend to be what it is not. So if you’re happy with rudely vigorous and unapologetic pizza fast food, you’ll enjoy Domino’s.