Me and my mom went to Tommy's today for lunch. It was my first Tommy's visit in maybe 14 or 16 months. Lotsa new insight to share. Where to start???
After parking in the rear parking lot, the first thing I did was a little dumpster diving. After digging through the cardboard dumpster a little, I took pictures of a couple empty ingredient boxes. (Unfortunately I can't post the pics right now because my computer is out of order, but I'll post them whenever I can.)
Here are a couple secrets the dumpster shared with me:
Sauce: The first interesting box I found was a tomato product. The box's label says "Starcross Brand 3 Gallon Crushed Tomatoes." Also, "Packed by Hirzel Canning Co. Toledo, OH 43619" and "3 gallons equals 4 #10 cans." On another part of the box it says "3 Gallon Sauce Bag." (There's a relatively large foodservice distributor in Toledo, whose name is not coming to me right now. I suspect this tomato product may be one of their house brands. Someone will find out soon enough, I'm sure.)
Pepperoni: "GiAntonio Brand Sliced Pepperoni." "Mfg. By: Ezzo Sausage Company." Also, the "38 mm" checkbox was checked. I was surprised to learn that Tommy's uses Ezzo because I bought a case of another Ezzo product once, and it was nothing like Tommy's pepperoni.
One thing I learned today by eating a Tommy's pizza: My most recent experiments and posts have been horribly wrong regarding the thickness. I've been using about 8 oz of dough per 10" pizza, but that's way too thin. At one point in my cloning chronicles, I was using 10 oz of dough per 10" pizza, and now I realize that's much more accurate than what I've done more recently. (Still, my thinner pizzas have been really good, so don't be afraid to make 'em thinner than Tommy's makes them.)
The crust was crispy on the very bottom (not at all crunchy, though), and it got progressively chewier toward the top of the crust. There was no gummy layer, but the uppermost layer of the crust was definitely soft (and chewy). Although Tommy's crust is quite different from what most people consider cracker crust, I had a couple bites that really did taste like cracker.
There's definitely oregano in the sauce, too. I could clearly taste it because I don't like oregano in sauce. The oregano presence is not heavy, but it's there.
Also, there is a noticeable saltiness on Tommy's pizza. This is something I wasn't sure of after my previous Tommy's visit, but now I know it's true. (At least today it was, anyway.) The saltiness seems to be above the crust. I'm not sure if it is the sauce or the cheese, but it probably isn't the pepperoni. (I was already planning to increase the salt content a notch in my clone dough because my clone's crust seems just bland enough to be noticeably bland.)
As soon as I walked into Tommy's today, I noticed that one of the pizza makers was spending a lot of time popping bubbles by sticking a bubble-popper through the side opening on the conveyor oven. Since my clones almost always bubble extensively, forcing me to pop the bubbles while the pizzas bake, I'd been wondering if Tommy's had found a way around that. Apparently not. (Remember, Tommy's dough is not docked.)
Honestly, even though Tommy's pizza is something I've really liked ever since I was a kid, it's actually not very good. But it's not bad, either. With a little work (or a time machine), Tommy's pizza could be freaking incredible. The crust already is pretty awesome and very unique, but the sauce and [provolone] cheese are nothing to brag about.
As seems to be a trend in Columbus, Tommy's pizzas are all one inch smaller than the sizes indicated on their menu. This is not an instance of pizzas shrinking while they're baked, nor is it the result of recent changes that just haven't made it onto the menu yet. Rather, it's an obvious attempt to deceive their customers. I have a big problem with that, and Tommy's Pizza can expect to never see me again, just like Cappy's and Joseppi's can expect to never see me again for the exact same reason.