Chili Pizza & Hots opened a few months ago in what had been a Mexican restaurant on Chili Avenue, in the plaza opposite the 390 ramp. I stopped by to check it out and picked up a pepperoni slice.
It looked good at first, big and thin, something like a NY-style slice in appearance. The underside, however, was downright burnt. I like a little charring, but this was more like burnt toast. I would’ve refused it except that I didn’t take a look until I’d gotten it out to my car, and I didn’t really feel like going back in.
The crust also showed that the pizza had been screen baked. It was thin, as I said, and certainly crisp. The burnt part was mostly on the half nearer the outer edge, which makes me think that they may have been a hot spot in the oven, or that someone wasn’t paying enough attention and needed to rotate the pizza more as it was baking.
It’s too bad, because this could’ve been a good pizza. The sauce and cheese were moderately applied, in good balance with the thin crust. The sauce had a mild flavor and the cheese was lightly browned. The pepperoni was OK but didn’t seem to contribute much in the way of flavor or texture. Despite the burnt portions, the crust had some internal breadiness. The edge was, unsurprisingly, tough and very crunchy.
CP&H has a basic array of pizza toppings available, and they also serve wings, hot subs, “sloppy plates,” salads, wraps and sides.
I wish I could’ve liked this pizza more. It had good flavor and all the basic components of a good thin-crust pizza. It was just overcooked. I’d chalk it up to inexperience, but while I can forgive screwing up a pizza, I have a harder time with the fact that they even gave this to me. They should’ve (1) realized that the pizza was partially burnt and (2) told me, and given me the option of taking this one (at a reduced price, perhaps), waiting for the next (presumably unburnt) one to come out of the oven, or saying better luck next time and leaving.
I hope this was just an aberration, and I will stop by again for another try. As I said, I think the basic ingredients are there. The counter person, who may have been the owner, was young and seemingly enthusiastic, which may come in handy because this looks to me like a possibly tough location, squeezed in among a bowling alley and other more prominent establishments.
Based on the execution alone, I would give this one a D, but because it’s a relatively new business and because I’m hoping this was just a one-time screwup, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and refrain from giving CP&H a grade for now. I'll stop by again sometime and I’ll see if my cautious optimism was well founded.
Chili Pizza & Hots, 1297 Chili Ave. 328-1944
Not sure of the exact hours, but I know they're open till 10 p.m. most nights
Update, Mar. 23, 2010: see my later review of a full pie from CP&H here.