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The Easiest Way to Improve a Slice of Mediocre Pizza

When you’re not sure if you’ll be getting quality pizza, order it well-done

A pizza pie on a pizza shop counter Shutterstock

This post originally appeared in the June 20, 2022 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

In this life, there is no accounting for taste, which is why so much pizza is bad. There is fine-bad (the cheese isn’t fully melted) and almost-good (the sauce is confusingly sweet) or just bad-bad but you have to eat it no matter what because pizza is pizza and you’re hungry. My instinct when confronted with a slice of very bad pizza pie is to douse it in red pepper flakes and say a prayer for my mouth. But in the early days of my relationship, I learned from my partner that there’s an even better solution: If you’re ordering pizza from a not-thoroughly-vetted shop, order it well-done.

The task is simple. When you place your order, request the slice or pie well-done. The pizza shop will almost always know what you’re talking about, and if they don’t, ask if they can just cook it for a bit longer than normal (they’ll also thank you for introducing them to this concept, probably).

When to employ this hack? It’s best for when the pizza in the shop window looks a little weak in the center or too light on the crust, or if you haven’t tried the spot yet and are worried it could be bad (always keep your expectations low when it comes to pizza). Ordering a slice or pie well-done may not make all the other elements of the pizza taste better but at least your crust will be crunchy. One out of three ain’t bad. And chances are, your pizza will be — instead of displeasing — pleasing. Once again, in this life, you can’t ask for much more than that, and my life improved ever-so-slightly once I learned about well-done pizza. Thanks, Sam.

A pizza is not a steak, so don’t worry, asking for it cooked hard will not make you look like a monster and/or former president. It’s already an option on the Domino’s menu, which means it’s not just an underground demand of the in-the-know. Well-done pizza is mainstream. It’s for people who love a crisp crust and hate a floppy structure. It’s for people who know that for every great slice of pizza, you will have to eat a mediocre one, so best to come prepared. It’s for mavericks who don’t just accept the status quo. The flood of red pepper flakes is not a bad trick, either, so long as your spice tolerance is high. But nothing beats the crispy, crunchy result of requesting your pie well-done. One disclaimer: If they burn it, that’s not my fault.