Pizza is too expensive! We’ll just say it! It costs too much money to buy a pizza! Having to pay so much damn money for a simple bread, sauce, and cheese is exhausting. In the quarantine environment we’ve been living in for the past seven months minimum, pizza has evolved from an “easy meal” to “life-saving necessity” for us. We know that pizza isn’t cheap – the costs of cheese and toppings adds up quickly, and the margins are razor-thin even in the largest markets.
Still, there’s a saying about bad sex and bad pizza: it’s still pretty good. Sometimes the cheapest pizzas are the best ones, not just for their quality, but for the experiences they provide. Some of our best pizza memories take place in parked cars at Little Caesars, at gas stations, in college cafeterias, getting the Pizza Hut personal pan at Target. Cheap pizza is something that’s worth hunting down and going out of your way for.
When we found a place called Five Dollar Pizza in Minneapolis, we really thought it was too good to be true. Ever since Little Caesars had shut down completely in our area, we had resigned ourselves to pizza costing over twice as much from now on. We didn’t really mind, because Little Caesars pizza really tastes like it was made with five dollars worth of ingredients, so we willing shelled out for our local Domino’s “$5.99 for Two” deals and made do. Seeing that there was another place, an independent place, that offered pizza at a Little Caesars price seemed impossible. But, one day we were up in the area, and decided we simply had no choice but to drop in. For five dollars, what could we lose?
There are two Five Dollar Pizza locations accessible to us: one is in Minneapolis, and the other in Apple Valley. We first went to the Minneapolis location, and discovered the first important thing to note about Five Dollar Pizza: only a large cheese pizza is five dollars. Any topping is going to run you $1.50 extra, making a simple pepperoni come closer to seven dollars than five. That was fine by us; a large pepperoni at Domino’s can be nearly fifteen dollars, so a $6.50 pizza is still a steal. We also decided to get some cheese bread, because hey, more carbs are always a good thing.
The interior of Five Dollar Pizza was a bit barren, but small and cozy. It had a nice outdoor patio seating which we were told was closed, but we saw some other people sitting out there later, so who knows the truth? The dining area that made up half of the restaurant was blocked off by chairs, due to the coronavirus crisis, so there was functionally no place for us to sit down and eat. This, too, was fine. In better days we would’ve loved to sit out on their lovely porch, or even dine inside together, but we decided to take the meal to a nearby park and eat there.
The pizza was a genuine large pizza, thin crust, but not so thin as to be crispy. To Paula, it reminded them of the pizza they used to eat from their college’s cafeteria; to Will, he thought of Chuck E. Cheese. But let the comparisons to fondly-remembered bad pizza end there, readers. This pizza was some of the best pizza we’ve had in months. Due to the coronavirus we haven’t been able to attend our favored pizza spot, Galactic Pizza, in some time. This has left us craving a decent pie, one that isn’t so thick and chewy, something baked with a little heart in it. Five Dollar Pizza gave us that pizza.
But, seriously, okay, is it good? For five dollars, it sure is! We’ve paid well over three times as much for pizzas of comparable quality. The cheese was perfectly browned, the crust was chewy, but not too dense, and the sauce was tangy and slightly sweet. It was a proper large pizza, easily enough to feed three people. Considering it’s only five dollars, you’d be a madman to go anywhere else to feed a crowd.
We also got some cheesy bread, which was also in the five dollar range, and almost like buying a second pizza in itself. The cheese we would like to talk about specifically right now, mostly that it’s… well, it’s nothing special. It’s that low-moisture mozzarella that any pizzeria at this price point can’t not afford to use. You know the kind: rubbery and kind of plasticky, it stretches when you try to take a bite and pull it with your teeth, but if you chomp down hard it severs like a non-Newtonian fluid.
But, you know, it’s not just about the size of your cheese boat, it’s also about the motion of the cheese ocean. Or whatever that means. Yes, the ingredients are cheap, but they’re harmonized in a way that’s almost impossible to not enjoy. Pizza is a very simple dish at its core, being just bread, sauce and cheese, and we think it’s almost impossible to screw up beyond edibility. Yes, some pizzas are better than others, but what was that saying about having sex with pizzas?
We were so jazzed about how much we liked this pizza, we went only a scant few days later to their Apple Valley location which was slightly closer to us. The experience was much the same, but with one critical detail: we ordered a pepperoni pizza this time. When we opened the box, we were at first distraught: it appeared that there was only four total slices of pepperoni on the pie, distributed across two slices! But upon the first bite, all doubt melted. This chain puts the toppings underneath the cheese, unlike most places we are familiar with. The pepperoni was all there, simply submerged under a blanket of mozzarella.
The addition of pepperoni was a key improvement that turned the pie from “delicious” to “divine”. The taste of spicy pepperoni grease soaked into the sauce directly, adding a layer of savory flavor that rounded out the whole experience into true platonic pizzadom. This was one of the best pizzas we have ever had in our life, all for less than seven dollars. You can’t argue with that.
Five Dollar Pizza is a chain that holds no apprehensions about its product. It is a pizza, and it is five dollars. The stores are spartan, the product simple, the menu small. Only Little Caesars is more cynical about its product, and that’s because they pre-bake their pies “Hot ‘n’ Ready” – at Five Dollar Pizza you’re getting a fresh pie each time.
We aren’t going to bullshit you, dear reader. We have eaten at this restaurant at least four times since the first time we went on the 18th of August, and we plan to go back more. We are in love with the Five Dollar Pizza. We can’t stop ourselves. We don’t want to stop.
But there’s one last, very important thing to consider with these pies. How do they handle as leftovers? It’s a large pizza for five dollars, so unless you’ve got friends or are particularly gluttonous, you’re going to have some leftovers. Let us tell you that it reheats very well, and is perfectly delicious cold. But what pizza isn’t just as good after a night in the fridge? Frankly, the price point of Five Dollar Pizza is perfect for getting one pie for today and another for breakfast.
Let’s all celebrate in this new discovery of cheap, delicious pizza. Perhaps by ordering a few pies right now.