Have a ball

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In a TV commercial currently in high rotation, an annoyingly energetic guy - let's call him Dude Buttinski - rudely intrudes on a perfectly innocent, minding-their-own-business family of four who're eating a pizza in a Donatos restaurant.

Dude won't leave the astonishingly tolerant family alone, and after congratulating them on their good taste in choosing dinner, leaps over the back of their booth to grab his mooching self a slice of their pie. Shockingly, this uninvited, freeloading stranger doesn't seem to bother the glazed-over family in the least.

I could only suppose the pizza they were eating was so delicious it actually made them feel impervious to all the annoyances and potentially creepy dangers of our modern world. If so, I could probably use some of that pizza, too.

What I tried: Donatos' Fresh Mozzarella Meatball pizza, large $13

Inside the box: Flipping the lid of this new model of Donatos, I thought the real thing looked every bit as good as its television version. A snow-white blanket of cheese united nuggets of meatballs and pepperonis, which were both generously distributed -yes-edge to edge.

On a roll: After a couple of bites into this lightly basil-sprinkled pie, I had to officially proclaim that Donatos had made one of the best pizzas I'd ever eaten that came from a national chain. By far.

First of all, the fresh mozzarella was milkier and of much higher quality than the greasy, waxy cheese too prevalent in the "industry" these days. And if the plentiful meatball chunks were on the spongy side, that was a minor complaint as they tasted good - mild, and flavored with cheese and garlic in proper proportion to the parsley-flecked meat. And the familiar, hard-salami-tasting pepperonis, which came in thin, cooked-crispy discs, were good too.

Underneath the thick layer of cheese and meat was a bonus stratum of soft and creamy ricotta cheese. Taking these in conjunction with the sauce (dark, rich, sweet and tomato-pastey with some oregano) and the decent, thin and crispy cornmeal-dusted crust, made for an extremely impressive big-brand pizza.

Would I eat it again?: Definitely. Plus, at $13 (currently the special price for a large, which feeds three or four), it's an excellent deal.

WE TRIED IT! Spot a new menu item you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail gbenton@columbusalive.com