There’s nothing like the combination of mozzarella, tomato sauce and dough to get the taste buds screaming. And in the Lansing, area you’re likely less than a stone’s throw from the nearest pizza joint, so it’s not like you’ll need to search far and wide for a pie.
But if you want a single slice, created with dough made fresh that morning, we here at City Pulse found a few places that fit the bill. Four of us — eager volunteers all — took a taste of the town last week to see how some of the area’s slices matched up.
Our first stop was south Lansing’s Julie Joe’s, 2515 E. Jolly Road, where $2 slices are available only through lunch. A generous, rectangular slice of cheese pizza provided the group with the best sauce of the trip (although considering the other sauces, that’s not saying much). The deepdish slice contained the favorite sauce of two reviewers and scored well overall, finishing tied for second.
The crust was a little bready, and two of us thought it was a tad doughy in the middle, but one taster found it satisfyingly filling. Julie Joe’s atmosphere was quiet and seating was limited, but there was plenty of motorcycle memorabilia to look at while we ate.
Next up came the busier Georgio’s, 1010 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing. Georgio’s appeared to have the largest selection of toppings, but we stuck with plain cheese on our taste test for consistency’s sake (unless it just wasn’t available.)
Despite coming with the thinnest layer of cheese and only a thin smear of sauce, Georgio’s slice scored the highest of the six we tried, with three of us ranking it the best, mostly thanks to its thinner, crispier crust, which one reviewer called a “delicious crust cooked to perfection.” Even our snobbiest pizza-eater, who described Georgio’s as “Sbarro-like,” gave props to the crust.
A half-block down the road is Bell’s, 1135 E. Grand River Ave., another collegetown pizzeria famous for its slices. Like Georgio’s, the atmosphere was livelier, but two reviewers noted harsh lighting. And for the gooey slice of cheese pizza ($1.25), the smallest on our tour, the reviews weren’t much better, finishing fourth on our list.
Three of us loved the thick layer of cheese, although it made for a greasier bite. The crust tasted undercooked to two judges, although one liked its buttery flavor. This might have been the sloppiest piece we encountered, so napkins were flying.
Next came the universally panned (no pun intended) Frandor Deli, 300 N. Clippert St., Lansing, where we choked down a slice of pepperoni (99 cents), because plain cheese wasn’t available. Finishing dead last, the deep-dish style slice was compared to high school cafeteria pizza, something only a drunk could love and worse than Dijorno’s by reviewers. The Deli does get points for atmosphere and service, though, as our slice was ready when ordered and the spacious confines felt cozy to two reviewers.
Across the Frandor lot, we hit Jet’s Pizza, a larger chain pizzeria with a lack of any discernable atmosphere whatsoever.
Jet’s slice ($1.75) finished in fifth place. I gave it the most love, noting a tasty cheese, slightly scorched, and a soft middle with crispy edges.
The mild sauce, though, like everywhere else, was so thin it was nearly imperceptible . One judge noted this would be OK for a fast, cheap lunch, but not much else.
We ended our journey at Art’s Bar, 809 E. Kalamazoo St., Lansing, which made our list on reputation alone and lived up to it, finishing tied for second. A packed house met us, so if you’re in a hurry, Art’s may slow you down, although the atmosphere scored high with three reviewers.
Art’s slice ($2.39) is characterized by a polarizing slate of cheese, which our judges found to be “tough but tasty,” “‘ewie’ and dry” and “pleasantly chewy.”