My favorite review items manage to be both repulsive and intriguing; ideally, they’d launch pearl-clutching pieces about the state of food, draw some whimsical coverage on Gawker, and get shoehorned into a head-scratching tech tie-in. A product as outrageous as “ fried chicken crust pizza” has predictably checked all the boxes.
Fortunately for the pearl-clutchers (though disappointingly for me), it’s not really fried chicken and it’s not really pizza. I would actually describe Domino’s Specialty Chicken as chicken nuggets-as-nachos. Domino’s just takes a bunch of standard boneless chicken bites, arranges them in a loosely-packed rectangle, and covers them with various toppings. There are four varieties: Classic Hot Buffalo, Sweet BBQ Bacon, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, and Crispy Bacon & Tomato.
To review all four without consuming up to 2400 calories and 120 grams of fat, I ordered these into the office in hopes of persuading a few coworkers to weigh in. Hilariously, I hadn’t realized I was ordering on Earth Day, when everyone brought in snacks and drinks that were organic and environmentally-friendly. The only way I could have brought less organic and environmentally-friendly pizzas would’ve been to go back to school, get a degree in agricultural biochemistry, genetically modify and chemically fertilize my own tomatoes and grains, cut down a rainforest tree to power my pizza oven, and deliver those pizzas in a Hummer. Despite my thematically inappropriate food contributions, several coworkers tried the Specialty Chicken. The consensus would be best summarized as, “better than you’d expect, but you won’t be able to eat too many at once.”
Let’s start with the overall problems before jumping into each specific type. The chicken bites were quite salty, much more so than, say, a pizza crust or a nacho chip. We couldn’t eat more than a few bites before having to chug water. Don’t treat these as a full meal – they’ll definitely work better as side dishes. Also, the Specialty Chicken all had structural challenges with keeping the toppings intact. Because each chicken bite was small and oblong, the cheese and accoutrements fell off as soon as we tore it from the rest. You’ll need a fork and knife not to make a big mess (and you’ll probably make a moderate mess anyway).
The Spicy Jalapeño-Pineapple was my personal favorite. The jalapeño and pineapple slices joined a dousing of cheese and mango habanero sauce. The flavors were interesting and well-balanced, with the pineapple sweetness/tartness and jalapeño spiciness offsetting the saltiness of the chicken and cheese. Having the fruit and sauce likely contributed to chicken that was moister than some of the other Specialty Chickens.
The Crispy Bacon & Tomato was also well-received, though I hated the name. (The first rule of food naming should be the same as the first rule of writing: “show, don’t tell” me that the bacon is crispy, which is an adjective on a different plane of uselessness than the flavor descriptors of spicy, sweet, or hot. This rule is why I write all these personal side-ramblings to show, and not tell, you that I’m very self-involved.) The diced tomato played well with the parmesan-garlic cream sauce, and I must begrudgingly admit that the bacon was, in fact, quite crispy. I was pleased with the combinations of flavors and textures, and these chicken bites were also moist and juicy.
The Sweet BBQ Bacon and Classic Hot Buffalo could be described together – they were both too dry, too salty, and a little boring. The Sweet BBQ Bacon just had bacon, barbecue sauce, and noticeably less cheese. The sauce was weak and the chicken was dry. The Classic Hot Buffalo came off saltiest, as the buffalo and ranch sauces compounded the saltiness of the cheese and chicken without bringing much extra tang to the table. These really were like chicken nuggets that I could’ve dipped in barbecue or ranch sauce myself.
Though I clearly enjoyed two of the four varieties of Domino’s Specialty Chicken, I wouldn’t recommend that you run out and order them immediately, especially since the price ($5.99 each) feels a little high. Still, if you’re already ordering Domino’s, you should tack on a Jalapeno-Pineapple or Crispy Bacon & Tomato, just to see for yourself what all this fuss over “fried chicken pizza” is about.
(Nutrition Facts – 4 pieces – Classic Hot Buffalo – 170 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 1070 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 11 grams of protein. Crispy Bacon & Tomato – 230 calories, 16 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 750 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Spicy Jalapeño-Pineapple – 170 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 610 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein. Sweet BBQ Bacon – 190 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 710 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.)
Item: Domino’s Specialty Chicken
Purchased Price: $5.99 each
Purchased at: Domino’s
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Classic Hot Buffalo)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Sweet BBQ Bacon)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Spicy Jalapeño-Pineapple)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Crispy Bacon & Tomato)
Pros: Tastier than you’d think. Jalapeño-Pineapple had interesting and well-balanced flavors. Bacon & Tomato had good combination of flavors and textures. Bacon was, in fact, crispy. Chicken of these two varieties were moist and juicy. An actual fried chicken pizza would be awesome. Earth Day. “Show, don’t tell.”
Cons: Too salty to be main dishes. Structurally unsound for holding toppings. A little on the pricy side. BBQ Bacon and Classic Hot Buffalo were too dry, too salty, and kind of boring. Pearl-clutching. Useless adjectives. Not contributing more to TIB.