Pizza Hut seems to be back in favour. After having written off the franchise as one that peaked and petered out after the influx of pizzerias, my recent visit to their newly opened Clifton branch confirms that the old giant has pinned down its shortcomings and is on the path to reclaim its title as the commercial pizza prince once again.
Pizzas have always been a great crowd-puller; staple weekend family grub that perks you up and sets the tone right for the long week. And Pizza Hut has always been the go-to place for a quick bite and powwow until the recent home invasion of the favourite fast food by a plethora of pizza places. While some have flourished with pure focus on flavour and heavy reliance on imported cheeses and fancy, inspired toppings, others have frizzled out of favour due to their dough dilemmas and it-all-tastes-the-same conundrum.
If you’re looking for gourmet pizzas with all the frills, Pizza Hut is not the place for you. It never made such a claim so it can hardly disappoint. However, if you want to stop over for a quick bite of decent tasting pizza with a side of mayo-dripping salad then you’re in for a delight – Pizza Hut has the right attitude and goods to deliver. A combination of greater variety and a much needed face lift have propelled it to the top once again.
For the indecisive, Pizza Hut’s menu can pose a bit of a challenge. It begins with a selection of crusts ranging from deep pan to thin crust to flatbread and then ventures into crust fillings and finally an array of standard toppings. Too many choices can sometimes be off-putting but in this case it works because it reflects on their new catering-to-all mentality. The menu also includes a healthy list of finger foods for starters and a foot-long lasagna and Fettuccini Alfredo for some relief. But cheesy offerings dominate the listing so the essence of the place is not lost.
Service is mostly timely provided the designated waiter remembers the order. I missed out on the lasagna because that was an additional 10-minute wait after the food was served due to a careless oversight. While little has changed in their salad bar display and the dexterity of diners when it comes to piling on the sticky macaroni and coleslaw layers in a shallow bowl, their pizzas have shown major improvement. They are laid out on contemporary wooden pizza paddles and deliver on the toppings promised in the menu. More importantly, they have enhanced flavour which is often lacking in a majority of commercial pizza joints.
While Pizza Hut has gracefully added some modern touches to its ambiance with the Clifton branch boasting a luxurious bar countertop, there are some familiar details that will amp up the nostalgia for returning devotees, especially their signature translucent tumblers and pitchers. There is something comforting about them which makes sipping water through a straw also acceptable.
Eventually, little matters when you have had a satisfactory meal and your child has kept herself occupied with a balloon. A short waiting period and accommodating staff can further set the tone right for the evening. So, if you are in a mood for second chances, hit the Hut and you might be pleasantly surprised.