A Chicago food critic is apparently ready to ruffle some feathers. 

Owing to the rise in popularity of Chicago’s most prominent style of pizza, tavern-style, Chicago Magazine’s John Kessler recently performed a blind taste test with friends. The objective was to determine how Domino’s Crunchy Thin Crust pizza stacks up against a local favorite: the iconic Pat’s Pizzeria, which has been serving up thin-crust, tavern-style pizza in Chicago since 1950. 

In order to control variables, Kessler ordered the same type of pizza from both Pat’s and Domino’s: a medium, half cheese, half pepperoni pizza. He set them up side-by-side and let his guests dig in. 

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The overall verdict was surprising. “Our group, none of us native Chicagoans, all liked the Domino’s [thin-crust pizza] better,” Kessler wrote. “We kept eating it, little square by little square, until it was no more and then made inroads into the Pat’s pie.” 

Kessler went on to hedge a bit, no doubt aware how this opinion would go over with native Chicagoans: “I’m not saying that Domino’s has better pizza,” he wrote. “But perhaps it does belong in the conversation.” 

The story includes detailed observations on how the two pies differed. Kessler noted more leoparding on the Pat’s crust and said the independent pizzeria’s pie had “milkier cheese and tomato-ier sauce, both of which easily detached themselves from the crust when we tried to pry pieces apart.” 

“The Domino’s pizza on the other hand was blander but better constructed, with a uniformly golden brown crust and a sheer cheese topping that melded into it,” he continued. “It tasted like it had more fat in the dough, so it was both super thin and super flaky, like the bottom of a buttery croissant.”

Kessler admits he’s no expert. Earlier in the piece he sheepishly noted that one of his favorite places to get pizza growing up was Mellow Mushroom. In concluding the story, he made a callback to that, writing: “Please take every opinion I make with a grain of salt. After all, I’ve admitted that I sometimes crave Mellow Mushroom.” 

Food & Ingredients