The rules of The Great Baltimore Pizza Pursuit are simple. Each category is worth 2 points (allowing for half points). The only pizza I'm considering is the basic slice of cheese. At the end of the year, the highest score wins the coveted Baltimore Bistros and Beer's Great Baltimore Pizza Pursuit title. The first slice up is Pizza Johns located in Essex.
Droop Factor - This might not be the most important factor in a great piece of pizza, but it is the first thing I notice when grabbing a slice of pie. When you fold the slice does it stand at attention? Or, does it hang there like Peter North on his day off? I like one that stands there so that you aren't sitting there holding the slice above your head trying to get the first bite in your mouth. In this category, the entry from Pizza John's falls a bit short. The pizza is super droopy, even while folded.
Score = .5
Greaseifcation - Another basic category, but one that can make or break the experience. There is a very fine line between greasy lusciousness and greasy slopfest. Pizza Johns walks the line, but happily they end up on the greasy lusciousness side of things.
Score = 1.5
Aroma - I wasn't going to use this as a category, and while I agree that it's kind of a whatever type thing, after smelling this pie up close yesterday it smelled so good that I decided that smell need not be forgotten. This pizza smells delicious. If you go to eat hungry, you'll leave starving. Even after you annihilate the entire pie, the smell that hovers around you long after it's gone is intoxicating.
Score = 2
Cheese - Now we're getting into the, uh, meat and potatoes of pizza. If you're evaluating a slice of cheese pizza, cheese is probably pretty important. Pizza Johns tops their pie with plenty of creamy milky mozzarella that tastes great. However, no matter how long you wait to eat you end up running into some sort of annoying problem. If you try to eat it when it's at it's hottest you'll burn the ever living shit out of your mouth. So, why don't I just wait a little while? Because if you wait for it to cool down the cheese tends to all come off in one bite leaving you with nothing but sauce and crust.
Score = 1
Sauce - To put it simply, the sauce at Pizza John's is the highlight of the pizza. It's bright. It's acidic. And it has good tomato flavor. Best of all, they aren't shy about the portion they use. The only thing I would like to see is a bit more herb flavor present and maybe a few specks of red pepper flakes here and there to liven things up.
Score = 1.5
Crust - Pizza John's has a great tasting crust. With that said, I think it suffers a bit from the large of amount of cheese/sauce they use which leads to the drooping issues I mentioned earlier.
Score = 1
Overall Score -7.5 out of 12
And there you have my evaluation of Pizza Johns' cheese pizza. Flavor wise, this pizza tastes GREAT. Yes, taste is super important but there are a lot of things one must look for while on The Great Baltimore Pizza Pursuit. If you ever find yourself in Essex, don't be afraid to stop in for some damn good pizza.