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Pizza in Mountain View

by Max Hauser

Some folks might be surprised to learn for what food silicon valley was briefly known in the 1990s.  Not Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, or Japanese cooking, all locally prominent.  Not Pacific seafood, a Bay Area staple since prehistory.  By whatever measure, a US study found that the area around Sunnyvale, California had the best access to delivered pizza.  The fuel of high-tech innovation, revealed.

For fueling your own innovation, or just enjoying the luxurious convenience of fresh pizzas on demand, here’s a summary of the 19 pizzerias currently in Mountain View.  Most of them deliver, without extra charge.  (A few other restaurants include pizzas in a larger menu, but I focus here on the specialists.)

Baking methods, crusts, toppings, and prices vary.  The last factor grows important as you buy more pizzas.  I’ve compared prices, adjusted for area (which allows for size differences), using a typical style they all offer.  The benchmark I used is a standard US-type cheese-and-mushroom pizza of the nearest available size to 16 inches diameter.

The table shows this per-area price, relative to a mid-range “reference” example (arbitrarily chosen as Papa John’s).  The resulting number is more or less than 1, proportionately as the pizza is more or less expensive per square inch than Papa John’s.  Following federal econometrics practice I call this a Pizza Price Index (PPI).  The PPI varies over more than a 3:1 range, with Little Caesar’s the cheapest, Pizzeria Venti the dearest.  More about the pizzerias, including why Venti charges more, under Pizzeria Notes.

PPI is a simple “apples-to-apples” value comparison, estimating your relative cost to feed a given crowd.  Different size choices, crusts, toppings, discount offers, and of course preferences can change the value picture.  (Once you see the idea, you can even extend the comparison to other pizzerias or pizza types, computing your own PPI numbers.)

Most pizzerias also offer soft drinks; some have salads, sandwiches, or Italianoid specialties.  Advice: Ask about any current discount offers before you order.  For deliveries, tip the driver well.  It’s their main pay, and it also helps them remember you and respond briskly next time.

Like many “Italian-American” dishes, our pizzas are mostly a US idea.  Food historian J F Mariani traces their evolution, starting as “poor people’s food from the slums of Naples” and unknown in most of Italy.  Neapolitan immigrants brought them to the US where pizzas grew larger, changed from knife-and-fork to finger food, narrowed stylistically from free-form ingredients to a sauce-cheese-toppings ritual, and exploded in popularity in the 1950s.  From the US they grew popular internationally, including throughout Italy.

Pizzeria
Size
(inches)
Price
PPI
Amici’s, 790 Castro, 961-6666, www.amicis.com
15
$21.05
1.41
D’Angelo’s, 2464 W El Camino Real, 988-6961
16
$15.74
0.93
Domino’s, 1711 W ECR, 605-1770, www.dominos.com
16
$17.47
1.03
Fast Pizza Delivery, 327 Moffett, 961-3278
18
$17.95
0.83
Frankie Johnnie & Luigi, 939 W El Camino Real, 967-5384, www.fjlmountainview.com
16
$18.50
1.09
Kapp’s Pizza Bar & Grill, 191 Castro, 961-1491
15
$17.45
1.17
Little Caesars, 638 San Antonio @ El Camino Real, 948-8182, www.littlecaesars.com
14
$5.99(!)
0.46
Maldonado’s, 615 S Rengstorff, 962-8499, www.maldonadospizza.com
16
$17.16
1.01
Milan, 1724 Miramonte, 988-9395, www.milanrestaurantofmtview.com
16
$21.45
1.26
New York Pizza, 1040 Grant @ El Camino Real, 210-9700, www.newyorkpizza.biz
18
$17.74
0.83
Papa John’s, 571 W ECR, 969-7272, www.papajohns.com
16
$16.99
1.00
Pizza Hut, 1955 W ECR, 960-4000, www.pizzahut.com
14
$10.00
0.77
Pizza My Heart, 1037 El Monte @ El Camino Real, 938-4200, www.pizzamyheart.com
18
$21.75
1.01
Pizzeria Venti, 1390 Pear @ Shoreline, 254-1120, www.mvpizzeriaventi.com
16
$25.00
1.47
Round Table, 157 E El Camino Real @ Grant, 968-4353, www.roundtablepizza.com
16
$23.29
1.37
Round Table, 570 N Shoreline, 961-0361, www.roundtablepizza.com
16
$23.29
1.37
Tony & Alba’s, 619 Escuela, 968-5089, www.tonyandalbaspizza.com
16
$22.38
1.32
Zpizza, 146 Castro, 314-0088, www.zpizza.com
18
$19.75
0.92

Pizzeria Notes

(IME = In my experiences.  Many pizzerias distribute discount coupons in mailer packets, on doorknobs, online, or (as noted here) at the back of AT&T Yellow Pages.)

Amici’s:  Premium small local chain.  Toasty crusts.  Well organized; consistently brisk delivery IME.  A favorite.

D’Angelo’s:  Good delivered pizza at moderate price IME.

Domino’s:  Big chain.  Also does business locally as “Team Golden Gate.”

Fast Pizza Delivery:  Truly fast, IME; highly competent mainstream-style pizzas.  Loyal following.

Frankie Johnnie & Luigi:  No delivery.  Local institution, agreeably hyperactive update of traditional US southern-Italian restaurant, checkered tablecloths included.  Yellow Pages coupons.

Kapp’s Pizza Bar & Grill:  Pleasant family-friendly atmosphere, also US-Prime hamburgers, unusual “baked stuffed” sandwiches.  “Veggie delight” pizza exceptional for its genre, includes sun-dried tomatoes, Feta, garlic, greens.

Little Caesars:  Pick-up only, one size (14”).  This low-price chain is not just the cheapest here by far; some of their pizzas (cheese, pepperoni) are cheaper still at $5 each.  Online reputation for decent quality considering these rock-bottom prices.

Maldonado’s: Loyal following. Yellow Pages coupons.

Milan Pizza Restaurant:  No delivery, but live jazz every Weds 7-10 PM.

New York Pizza:  Bay-Area chain.  Offers 24-inch “King Kong” size.  Solid classic pizzas IME.

Papa John’s Pizza:  Recent (2009) chain location.  Boxes of “It’s-It” ice-cream sandwiches come with X-large pizzas (ask about that).  Solid source and value IME, though hard to get them to lighten up on the cheese.

Pizza Hut:  International chain of Yum! Brands Inc. (world’s largest fast-food consortium —KFC, Taco Bell, A&W, Long John Silvers, others).

Pizza My Heart: Northern California chain decorated on surfing theme.  Several house-specialty topping combinations. Straightforward, well-made, classic style IME.  Yellow Pages coupons.

Pizzeria Venti:  Elegant modern Italian fine-dining restaurant (one of the best locally IME) with strong pizza menu.  It’s an Italian franchise managed from Siena in Tuscany, and uses not only virgin olive oil, but Italian water for the pizza dough.   Delivery is via third-party services.

Round Table Pizza:  West-coast chain.  Coupons and specials distributed periodically in neighborhood and online.

Tony & Alba’s:  Longtime local institution.  Several sauce options, many pastas and other specialties.

Zpizza:  Recent (2009).  Small California chain, healthy/organic emphasis, unusual toppings (“Mexican” justly popular IME), moderately priced.  One of my favorites.  Good coupons in mailed packets.