Now that it’s been proven that plant-based meats won’t kill human beings or the fast food business, it seems logical (and far from Impossible) for restaurants to move Beyond burgers to pizza. True, meat isn’t as essential to pizza as it is to burgers—there are plenty of excellent pizzas in the world that are topped with only cheese and vegetables. But I suppose it’s nice for vegetarians to have options.
And so Pizza Hut has jumped into the plant-based meat fray with not one but two pizzas made with Beyond Italian Sausage: a basic Beyond Italian Sausage pizza and the Great Beyond, which also has tomatoes, red onions, and banana peppers. Pizza Hut is touting the Original Pan crust (which also happens to be the best), but the pizzas are also available with Thin ’N Crispy, Hand-Tossed, and Original Stuffed Crust.
Pizza Hut is so proud of itself, its marketing team scheduled a Zoom call last month from the test kitchen in Plano, Texas. Kevin Hart joined in, too, Cameo style. Representatives from Pizza Hut and Beyond Meat told us how lucky they felt to be able to work together and promised that Beyond Italian Sausage was just as flavorful and juicy as its pork-based inspiration. And then they sent us an actual Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza (from our local Pizza Huts) so we could taste for ourselves.
So how did it taste? Well, it tasted, for better or worse, unmistakably like Pizza Hut pizza. The sauce had the usual Pizza Hut metallic tang, and the cheese had the usual tinge of plastic. But the Original Pan crust—even after its makeover last year—is still excellent, buttery and crisp on the outside and bready on the inside. (And, yes, also greasy.)
And the sausage? It was a bit nubblier and crispier than pork sausage. This might have been because it was overcooked. But it did taste strongly of fennel and pepper, and so it fulfilled the most essential flavor requirement for sausage on pizza. It didn’t make the pizza any worse.
So, okay, it seems like damning with faint praise to say that a highly touted new product is pretty much the same as the old product. But since we’re talking about plant-based meat substitute, maybe that’s a good thing? Anyway, all the vegetarians out there—and the kosher- and halal-keepers and other people who don’t eat pork or meat in general for whatever reason—now have the option of eating sausage pizza. It’s not excellent sausage. But it’s acceptable. Sort of like how Pizza Hut pizza in general is not excellent pizza, but it’s acceptable. B-minus seems to be the standard grade for Pizza Hut offerings here at The Takeout, so let the Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza join the rest.