Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Impressions: Hotlips

Various Locations

[Photographs by Adam Lindsley]

Frankly, I don't have a lot to say about Hotlips. Their strawberry soda is one of the best nonalcoholic beverages I've ever quaffed, but their pizza is, much like fellow Portland chain Pizzicato, aiming low and hitting the target dead center.

Let's quickly run through the components of the recent half-cheese/half-pepperoni I ordered, one by one:

Crust: Thin, little-to-no rise on the outer rim (thanks to sauce and toppings that go right to the edge of the dough), dusted heavily with semolina on the underside, with not much discernable flavor. Surprisingly, not all that crispy, although I imagine that will change once these slices are reheated.

Sauce: More a tomato paste than sauce, with that dull canned-tomato flavor to it. Not nearly as salty as the Pizzicato sauce, though. Liberally applied.

Cheese: Again, not as salty as whatever Pizzicato is using. The cheese-only slices were almost bland, which surprised me. This aged mozzarella doesn't have much pull to it, either.

Pepperoni: Pretty decent pork/beef flavor, but limp and uncrisped by Hotlips's oven. Again, reheating these slices should rectify that.

Price: Outrageous! An 18-inch cheese pizza here is $21.75. Compare that to the indescribably superior 18-inch Margherita at Apizza Scholls, which comes in at $21, and you'll be left scratching your head at the disparity in quality. The flipside to this coin is that you can get your pizza quickly at Hotlips no matter the hour, which makes it good primarily for children's or office parties, or for a quick (but, notably, not cheap) dinner. It's totally fine New York-style knockoff pizza, but completely unmemorable.

Thankfully, Hotlips does sell individual slices, and I think that's the way to go here. Even their small pizzas are grossly overpriced (they start at $15.50 and just go up and up from there). None of the ingredients are particularly noteworthy, so what is it you're paying for? According to the Hotlips website, it's sustainability and community. Commendable, to be sure, but I only have so much cash budgeted for eating out, and sustainability and community aren't enough to get me to open my wallet for them again.

OVEN: Convection