Thursday, January 23, 2020

Steveats: Cici's “Pizza” Buffet

Two lifeless pizza slices, but surprisingly OK cheesy bread.
This feature went away for a while, but now... IT'S BACK! I tryout questionable food items so that you don’t have to in… Steveats. (Note: Title developed in about 10 seconds of brainstorming.)

For some reason, one commercial we would get quite a bit in Rhode Island would be for Cici's Pizza Buffet. Sure, it's not weird that they advertise on national television programs, but I'd also hear radio ads for them on HJY. It's strange, because the closest one is about 200 miles away in New Jersey. Although, as I'm about to get to, that might be appropriate.

In Texas, they have plenty of Cici's, so of course I had to go. And let me tell you – They aren't selling pizza, they're selling cardboard. I've had plenty of low grade pizza in my day, and I'm on record as kind of liking Sbarro. In the past, I've even had a breakdown of gas station pizza, and I compared a couple of those pizzas to cardboard.

The “pizza” at Cici's is worse than all of those places. It's not entirely surprising, since the margins for the business must be incredibly small, at a price of about $5 per buffet participant, depending on where you live. It is a sort of bizarre middleground between a thin crust and a pan pizza, without the positive qualities of either. The sauce and cheese don't really have much taste either, so the low-grade toppings are doing a lot of the “work” here.

I tried a wide variety of pizza at Cici's, and it all sucked. They also offer salad (hard to screw up) and pasta, which is... fine. They're likely using the same marinara sauce for the pizza and pasta though, since it's a mostly inoffensive pasta mush that they serve. They also had an Alfredo sauce pasta when I was there, which was a bit better, although strangely, the spinach Alfredo pizza was still complete garbage.

If you must eat at Cici's, I can only recommend one thing – the cheesy / garlic bread. According to the Cici's website, it's only 140 calories per two slices, which seems impossible to me. Mine was loaded up with a crap-ton of butter and garlic, which made it much more tolerable than the rest of the menu. If, for some sick reason, you need to order takeout, just load up on the cheesy bread.

My friend and fellow podcast co-host Todd Brisket warned me that Cici's was strictly a cheap place for 'za that you bring the kiddos, but man, I don't even think it clears that bar. The Pizza Hut buffet is 1.5-2x the price, but that's worth it for the jump in quality you get. Any place there might be a Cici's, there is likely a Chinese buffet, and even the weird pizza they have there is a better option than this.

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