Pizza Hut’s latest offering is the P’Zolo, which can only be described as a long calzone. Or a pizza sandwich. Or a glorified hot pocket. Maybe a pizza burrito. You get the idea.
What can’t be described is the reasoning behind the name “P’Zolo.” We all know that “P’Zone” is just a play on the word calzone, which makes sense, since that’s exactly what it is. But what the hell is a P’Zolo?
After doing some research (read: Googling), I found that there are a lot of people with the surname Pizzolo, perhaps the most well-known of which is writer/director Matt Pizzolo. There was also a mobster named Randolph Pizzolo, who was murdered in 2004 by well-known goombah Vinny Gorgeous.
More importantly, there actually is a dish called the pizzolo. Originating in the Province of Syracuse in southeastern Sicily (namely the cities of Solarino and Sortino), the pizzolo is basically a pizza, except only half of the dough is on the bottom, with the other half being placed on top. It’s kind of like a stuffed pizza, I guess. From what I can tell, the crust is flaky, and the filling can be savory or sweet.
Of course, Pizza Hut’s P’Zolo does not resemble the authentic pizzolo, which begs the question, is the name just nonsense or is there meaning behind it? If there is meaning, it’s not exactly clear. Maybe it’s supposed to be like ‘solo,’ as in eating the P’Zolo makes you feel lonely. It would make a lot more sense if it was called a P’Zoli, because it’s similar to a stromboli. We may never know what Pizza Hut’s aim really was.
But what’s their angle with the P’Zolo? Well, Pizza Hut has made their intentions crystal clear: they aim to steal customers from Subway. At $3 each or two for $5, the pricing is similar to a sandwich. Their new TV spot features the line “Say so long to the footlong and get more bang for your five bucks.” Here’s another one of their taglines, aimed directly at Subway:
Personally, I am a customer of neither Pizza Hut nor Subway. I’m not a fan of Subway’s sandwiches, a.k.a. an entire loaf of bread with some nasty meat. As far as Pizza Hut, I don’t dislike it; in fact I would say it’s my favorite of the major pizza chains. But I rarely order pizza, and my local Pizza Hut’s delivery area does not include my house, despite being roughly 10 minutes away.
Nonetheless, I called them up and ordered one of each P’Zolo variety: Italian Steak, Meat Trio and Buffalo Chicken. Each one is “freshly baked in a soft golden crust,” topped with Asiago cheese and comes with your choice of marinara or ranch dipping sauce. I went with 2 of each sauce, forking over $.60 for an extra cup. It all cost me $9.32, which seemed good considering 3 of these could probably feed two people.
Each P’Zolo probably measured roughly 7 inches long and 2 inches wide. Two of them would seem to be just about equal to a Subway footlong, and for the same price. They had a very oily, salty, garlicy aroma, similar to Domino’s pizza or Olive Garden breadsticks, but stronger.
The bread was pretty good; soft and a little chewy. It was uneven throughout each P’Zolo, thin in some spots and thicker in others, but overall I liked the bread. Each P’Zolo was super salty, and if you’re one for nutritional info, look away: these contain between 1130 and 1350 milligrams of sodium each. For reference, that’s roughly half of the recommended daily intake.
The promotional pictures would have you believe that these are overflowing with cheese, but in my P’Zolos there was very little. You can see cheese in the photos I snapped, but it was not noticeable at all when I was eating them. Maybe it was the right amount of cheese, but it just lacked flavor. From what I’ve read, the amount seems to vary. Some people have complained of receiving a ton of cheese and very little meat, while others have had plenty of meat and hardly any cheese. Maybe since it’s a new item Pizza Hut employees are still working out the kinks and figuring out how to properly prepare a P’Zolo.
I like meat, so let’s start with the Meat Trio. Featuring Italian sausage, pepperoni and ham, this one sounded the best to me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that great. The meats were pretty bland, the sausage was weird and as I said the cheese was next to nonexistent. With enough sauce it was at least palatable. The marinara was really thin and a little too sweet, but it went okay with the Meat Trio. I preferred ranch, but then again I always do. 5/10
Next up was Buffalo Chicken. It’s simple: “tender grilled chicken breast strips covered in bold and spicy buffalo seasoning.” I liked this one a little better. The chicken was pretty juicy, and the buffalo seasoning was certainly spicy, as promised. The seasoning was also tangy, as buffalo should be, and it was the dominant flavor. The ranch worked really well here, countering the heat with its creaminess. 6.5/10
Finally we have Italian Steak. It’s “filled with marinated steak, roasted peppers, onions and mushrooms.” It’s obviously meant to be like a cheesesteak. The steak pieces were not all that flavorful, but the peppers and onions rounded it out nicely. The mushrooms were scant; I think there were maybe 3 or 4 slices in the whole thing. It all made for a very savory, almost cloying concoction. Again I preferred ranch, but either sauce worked fine. I would imagine a real cheesesteak is much better, but this wasn’t terrible. 6/10
So these P’Zolos are nothing special, although I still think they’re better than a Subway sandwich or a Hot Pocket. As far as the price, it’s definitely fair. Two of these would easily fill up a hungry dude for just five simoleons, or for those with smaller appetites, one would certainly suffice at a mere three bucks. The amount of salt is an issue, especially if you’re a health-conscious eater – two of them roughly equals the recommended daily sodium intake.
I can’t say I’d recommend P’Zolos, but if for whatever reason you’re inclined to try them, go for the chicken or steak. Oh, and don’t forget to take your Diovan.