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The Great Wickenburg Pizza Taste Test of 2006

I’ve been wanting to write an article about Wickenburg’s pizza restaurants for a while now. Problem is, I like a certain kind of pizza. It didn’t seem fair for me to voice my opinions about what was “best” when what I like might not be what other people like.

So I arranged the Great Wickenburg Pizza Taste Test of 2006. Working with my friend Stan who has a spacious, clean, and stereo-equiped hangar at Wickenburg Airport, we invited a bunch of mutual friends — mostly pilots from all over the country who now live in Wickenburg — to join us for pizza. On the evening of the event, with no advance warning, I placed an order for a large cheese pizza and a large “meat lover’s” pizza with Wickenburg’s four pizza providers: Cary’s, Dominos, Mine Shaft (formerly Sangini’s), and Sundance (Tastee Freez). All pizzas were to be delivered to Stan’s hangar, except for Sundance, which doesn’t deliver.

When the pizzas arrived, we began our taste test. I’d brought along some pizza cutters so we wouldn’t need to eat huge slices of each. After tasting, the participants ranked the restaurants in order of their favorite pizza, with 4 being the top rated and 1 being the bottom.

The results were interesting — and far more complex than a simple “Restaurant A is the best.” Read on to learn more.

Ordering

I placed all the orders by cell phone. Ordering went smoothly except for when I called Mine Shaft. The phone rang so long that one of the tasters assured me that Sangini’s had gone out of business and I was wasting my time. Someone finally picked up. I think he was tired of listening to the phone ring. After a bit of confusion, he handed me off to someone else, who handed me off to a third person. I finally got the order in.

An interesting thing here: only two of the four restaurants — Dominos and Mine Shaft — had a “meat lovers” pizza on their list. The others asked what meats I wanted and charged by the topping.

Pricing

If you’re looking for two cheap pizzas on a Tuesday, Dominos is the answer. Although I was unaware of this, Dominos apparently offers two for one on Tuesdays. We just had to pay extra for the meat on the second pizza. So two large pizzas came to just over $15, delivered. (I gave the guy a tip, of course. Always tip the pizza delivery guy.)

On the other end of the scale, Mine Shaft was the costliest. I paid about $38 (plus tip) for the two pizzas they delivered.

Cary’s and Sundance were in the middle, charging just over $25 (plus tip for Cary’s) for the two pizzas.

Speed & Delivery

If you want a pizza or two really fast, Sundance is the answer. When I ordered, I was told the pizzas would be ready for pickup in 10 minutes. I’m not sure how they do that and maybe I don’t want to know. But when Mike went to pick up the pizzas, they were ready and waiting for him.

Oddly enough, Dominos and Mine Shaft arrived at the hangar (after getting additional driving directions) within seconds of Mike’s return with the Sundance pizza. I think seeing so many pizzas being delivered at once rather frazzled the Mine Shaft guy, because he almost left his red thermal bag behind.

Cary’s pizza arrived a good 15 minutes after all the others. In fact, we’d almost given up on them when I called to check on the status. He arrived a few minutes later.

All pizzas were hot and fresh.

Size

If size matters to you, you should prefer Cary’s and Mine Shaft. Their “large” pizzas were indeed large. Dominos and Sundance had much smaller “large” pizzas. But remember the cost — Mine Shaft’s pizzas were also the most expensive.

Thick Crust vs. Thin Crust

I like a thick crust pizza. Other tasters like a thin crust.

If you’re in the thin crust camp, there’s only one answer: Cary’s. That pizza had the thinnest crust I’d ever seen without looking as if it would fall apart when you picked up a slice.

For thick crust, it’s a tossup between Dominos and Mine Shaft. Both had thick crust pizzas, although we all agreed that Dominos had a more flavorful crust. Both had thick outside crusts.

The Sundance pizza’s crust was somewhere in between — a good choice if you have to please people in both camps.

Toppings

All the pizzas had a satisfactory quantity of topping.

Cary’s meat pizza was the most beautiful pizza I’d ever seen — almost as if the meat had been arranged by an artist who wanted perfect distribution. Maybe that’s what took so long. Cary’s also uses high quality ingredients, including flour imported directly from Italy.

Mine Shaft’s cheese pizza was swimming in melted cheese and its meat pizza looked as if it had been thrown together hastily — quite a difference from the picture perfect Cary’s pizza.

Conclusion

So what’s the answer? What’s the best?

I honestly can’t say. I recommend that you try them all — maybe on the same day like we did! — and decide for yourself.

As a former New Yorker, though, I can tell you that I’m glad to say you can get a good pizza in Wickenburg.

Cary’s Pizza
1020 W. Wickenburg Way (Sunshine Plaza), Suite 2
684-0589

Dominos Pizza
E. Wickenburg Way (La Siesta Plaza)
684-3030

The Mine Shaft
107 E. Wickenburg Way (at Tegner Street)
684-7828

Sundance Pizza (Tastee Freez)
512 E Wickenburg Way
684-7569

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