We’ve all got our favorite foods. If I had to pick just one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would definitely be Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
I mean, it’s pretty much the perfect food – you’ve got an infinite amount of cheese to work with, all kinds of sauces to add to the equation and a practically unlimited number of topping possibilities. Which is why I’ve always been surprised that pies of the like have so seldom been offered by the big name carry-out pizza chains. Granted, they take longer to prepare, but you mean to tell me there isn’t any consumer demand for stuffed pies and that middle America would rather eat pan pizzas with pigs-in-a-blanket crust instead?
Yes, we do have quasi-deep dish pies available today at Little Caesar’s and Papa John’s, and in the past, big name chains like Domino’s have given the concept the old collegiate try. But it’s always been a bit suspicious that Pizza Hut has largely steered clear of deep dish offerings over the last 15 years.
Indeed, the last time Pizza Hut even attempted to go national with the idea was in 2002 with their short-lived Chicago Dish Pizza…which, as fate would have it, was far from the Hut’s first tango with heavyweight pies.
Enter the Priazzo Italian Pie.
In 1985 Pizza Hut unveiled not one but four deep dish offerings. Now technically, they weren’t 100 percent traditional deep dish pizzas – rather, they were sort of a fusion between a deep dish and a stuffed pizza. Regardless, the format of the pies were the same: you had one layer of sauce, meat and extra ingredients with another layer of crust atop it, which was then doused with even more sauce, cheese and toppings.
There were four variations, as briefly outlined below:
ROMA – Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, beef, pork and onion topped with mozzarella and cheddar.
FLORENTINE – Ham and spinach topped with cheddar, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheese.
NAPOLI – A mix of cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheese topped with tomato slices.
MILANO – Bacon, beef, pork, pepperoni and Italian sausage topped with mozzarella and cheddar.
Interestingly, some Internet sleuthing suggests the Hut actually tested a fifth Priazzo product – a sausage, pepper and onion strewn variation codenamed the Portofino. Regardless, all four (five?) pies were not long for this earth, and the Priazzo line-up got 86’ed – ironically enough – in 1986.
Internet hearsay and musings from old-school Hut employees indicate the pies were just too much of a hassle to remain menu staples. The pies took much longer to prepare and required costlier equipment to cook correctly, and apparently fast food consumers circa ‘85 just weren’t keen on pizzas that took upwards of 40 minutes to prepare.
Still, the Priazzo pies have developed quite the cult following over the years, perhaps because it’s a concept that neither Pizza Hut nor its top competitors have since attempted to resurrect. But with so many retro-food-fanatics rediscovering the Priazzo online, is it only a matter of time until Pizza Hut is goaded into relaunching the fabled array of proto-artisanal pies?
Hey, if Internet fandom can bring Crystal Pepsi back to life, anything’s possible.