Photo: Erik R. Trinidad
When you hear about Pizza Hut's "new Ultimate Stuffed Crust Pizza," you might think it's déjà vu -- haven't stuffed crusts been around for years? True, basic idea of stuffed crust pizza is nothing new, however their new "Ultimate" Stuffed Crust Pizza takes the slice's edge to a new level, adding not only cheese, but also meat inside. The result is an interesting new rearrangement of their staple ingredients that should satisfy anyone's curiosity about just what Pizza Hut could do to make their fare even more gluttonous. Here's how they rate:
The Claims: Pizza Hut's new Ultimate Stuffed Crusts come in two varieties: Pepperoni (with cheese), or the superlative "Meaty," stuffed with pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, and cheese. Both pizza pies come with up to three toppings of your choice. We found no calorie count information for this specific product at the restaurant, nor at PizzaHut.com, although a non-ultimate Stuffed Crust Pizza with pepperoni toppings weighs in at 380 calories per slice (1/8 of a pie). With "Meat Lover's" toppings it's 480 calories per slice, so the Ultimate's calorie count is probably going to be a lot more than that, depending on what toppings you choose.
The Price:$12.99 for a large pie with up to three toppings. (Prices may vary at participating locations.)
The Verdict: B. This "ultimate" pizza only comes in the large 14-inch size -- probably because of logistics; when you're trying to pack a lot of meat into a crust, it's obviously going to be longer than usual when you fold the dough over. The Ultimate Stuffed Crust is two inches long, which makes the whole pie basically a pizza that is ten inches in diameter with two (two-inch) calzones on both ends. And that's not just a joke; the meaty crusts actually taste and feel like small calzones when you bite into them, with a doughier than crispy crust, pinched in a pattern to allow steam to vent.
We sampled both kinds of Ultimate Stuffed Crusts: the Meaty with all vegetable toppings to offset the meatiness (red onions, green peppers, and mushrooms), and the Pepperoni with jalapeño peppers, mushrooms, and -- why the hell not -- more pepperoni. The ten-inches of pizza pie are pretty standard as far as Pizza Hut goes; loads of cheese and toppings baked on a doughy bottom crust that seems mediocre to anyone who is accustomed to crispier New York-style pizza crust, or more flavorful Chicago-style deep dish crust. However, the focus of the stuffed crust pizzas is not on the bottom, it's at the edges.
The two varieties of Ultimate Stuffed Crusts differed; the Pepperoni is the saltier and oilier one -- that is the nature of pepperoni after all. (However, with the crust enveloping the slices of meat, there's no way to pat the oil down with a napkin like some health-conscious people often do on pepperoni slices.) The Meaty crust, although packed with more ingredients, is actually the lighter tasting of the two, perhaps because the sausage and bacon take the edge away from the pepperoni's dominance -- which is either a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of pepperoni. Both Ultimate crusts are what they are -- another way to get more meat and cheese in your stomach -- however they take away from what I think a crust should be: a nice finishing starchy palate cleanser at the end of eating a slice, especially if you're going to have another. With the Ultimate Stuffed Crusts, you never get an "intermission" between slices.
In the end, if you measure your quality of pizza based on the quantity of things you can add to it, this is truly the "ultimate" Pizza Hut pizza. If not, it's just sort of standard as far as Pizza Hut goes, but worth getting if you like buying into the gimmick. Either way, be warned: the Ultimate Stuffed Crust Pizza will ultimately make you feel full (or is it stuffed?) after eating a few slices of it.