After a slow but steady decline, Leona's Restaurants (the whole freakin' chain) are collectively the Bastard of the Day. It all started when they stopped offering meat lasagna several years ago. Sure, you can get the five-cheese lasagna with meat sauce on top, but it isn't the same. Then a year or two ago they eliminated their whole wheat crust pizza (which unlike most whole wheat crusts, did not taste like cardboard or sawdust) from the menu. Well, technically it wasn't eliminated from the menu because they kept passing out the old menus, but if you tried to order it, you were S.O.L.
The best pizza crust from Leona's has always been their delicious, buttery, cornmeal deep-dish. It was square to fill the entire box, and Leona's offered special toppings that weren't available on the "regular" thin crust. My favorite was the Italian meats pizza, which included the usual sausage and pepperoni along with tasty meatball slices. The sauce was thick and rich, and the cheese was plentiful.
So tonight when I ordered the Italian meats pizza from the new Leona's menu, I expected that fantastic pizza. The new menu doesn't say anything about the crust, but I assumed since it was more expensive than the thin crust and was categorized under "gourmet pizza pies" that it would be the cornmeal crust I love.
Alas, it was not; the Leona's deep-dish crust is no more. I paid $18.75 for a large pizza, and the crust was about two millimeters thick. Even if I didn't hate superthin crust (and I really, really do), this pizza was utter crap. The toppings were sparse, there was a mere hint of sauce, the cheese was adequate at best, and any spot not covered with cheese was charred. The superthin crust meant there was barely enough to feed the two of us; usually a large pizza is good for at least a lunch or two worth of leftovers.
My wife works evenings, and while she's working I eat cheap, mediocre dinners alone -- frozen lasagna, frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, maybe a bowl of cereal, or creamed chipped beef on toast for goodness' sake. When I'm eating with my wife, I want a good meal for a change. Leona's has always delivered (in all senses of the word) until tonight. I hope they realize their mistake and bring back the real pizza crust, and I hope they fire the bastard who took it off the menu in the first place. In the meantime, there are at least a dozen pizza joints nearby that make twice the pizza for two thirds of the price. Arrivederci, Leona's!