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Reheating leftover pizza... better the 2nd time around?

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Am I crazy or is reheated takeout pizza better? Whenever we get takeout pizza, regardless of where we are, the pizza is usually a little too limp in the middle and it makes it more difficult to eat. It's floppy and the cheese slides off in big clumps - it's just difficult to eat. Once in a great while I get a perfectly cooked pizza that doesn't flop at the end of the slice, but its a rare occasion. However, once these slices have been chilled and re-heated in the oven for a couple of minutes, they now have more stability and are not only easier to eat but have a more palatable crust too. It's kind like french fries and how they crisp up better with a 2nd dip in the fryer.

I've had great pizza all over the east coast (NY, Philly, Central PA and in my current city of Charlotte) and the floppy fresh slice is an issue no matter where I go. Are other 'hounds partial to reheated pizza too?

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  1. I totally agree. There's a place that I get takeout from where I specifically order more pizza than necessary so we can reheat it the next day. I've tried to order my pizza well done, too, and it's just not the same.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jessicheese

      Yes, same here. Ordering well done doesn't resolve the issue. Its something to do with the twice baked approach - the bake, rest, bake again.

    2. Wow. I couldn't disagree more. I can eat just about anything as leftovers, EXCEPT pizza. It's just completely unpalatable to me unless it's fresh.

      Different strokes for different folks, I guess! :)

      1. I agree - usually reheat in the toaster oven. We had one pizza place we loved on Long Island, and even that pizza was better the second time around. We also ask for the "well-done" pizzas, but something about reheating gives it that crispy crust. Husband & kids are also fans of the reheat.

        1. i only eat leftover pizza cold or at room temperature.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ScubaSteve

            Scuba!

            Me too!
            Totally agree - reheating it never does it for me!

            I like it cold and room temp btw - but never as much as fresh

          2. I usually solve the limp pizza problem, by putting it in the toaster oven, BUT not baking, I toast it on high setting. Perfect every time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bagelman01

              I always reheat pizza in my cast iron skillet and then put it under the broiler for about 30 sec's

            2. jfood reheats his pizza on the gas grill. As soon as he turns it on he throws the slices on the grates. As it heats it makes the top melted and then the high heat makes the crust nice and crispy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jfood

                You discovered a good use for a gas grill! Not sure if it's worth investing just for reheating pizza, but it makes perfect sense.

              2. reheated pizza is reheated pizza. it can't get better the second time around. the best you can hope for is a decent reprise. those who say it's better second time around started out with crummy pizza. really crummy pizza.

                just my $0.02.

                9 Replies
                1. re: steve h.

                  I agree in part and disagree in part.
                  Reheated crummy pizza is just that. As bread becomes toast (yum) there are changes that make reheated food different from the original. Flavors meld over time; maly restaurants lack the option of time. Spicy Asian Take-Out can become more spicy as the character of the chilis drifts to the food from the chilis themselves.
                  More on topic, reheating the bready crust of a pizza on a stone can toast up the bottom of an otherwise soggy pizza. Yes, it doesn't make up for poor content, but as a lover of the texture of foods, I believe reheating or recooking may, under certain circumstances, improve on the original.

                  1. re: Phood

                    respectfully disagree.

                    a properly baked pizza cannot be improved upon. one can only hope to make the leftover slices roughly approximate the original goodness.

                    i like pizza. i tune up my chops every march in rome and naples. i also bake my own at home here in connecticut and visit shops in both my home state, nyc, and california. (check the other boards).

                    1. re: steve h.

                      "a properly baked pizza cannot be improved upon. one can only hope to make the leftover slices roughly approximate the original goodness."

                      So, pizza by the slice, by your standards, is subpar pizza? I just think NY style pizza is improved when its cooled and then reheated. It wasn't necessarily "crummy" to begin with, I just like the texture of the crust that results when a pie is baked, cooled and reheated. it's a matter of taste/preference. IMHO.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        "So, pizza by the slice, by your standards, is subpar pizza?"

                        There are some places in NYC that won't sell pizza by the slice and I think it may be because they feel this way. I like street slices as much as anyone but I think there might be something to this.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          There are actually alot of purveyors that hew to this ethos ...

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            It's just a personal inquiry. Obviously there are no standards. I'm just curious about folks preferences and if anyone else shared my preference for a reheated slice. Pizza by the slice has been around a long time, I'm not worried its disappearing. Particularly in this economy. :)

                          2. re: lynnlato

                            Jfood has to agree with steve h. Jfood has eaten more pies and slices, both original and reheated, than he cares to think about. And if confronted with a slice right out of the oven and a slice that was re-heated, it's a no-brainer which one is in his hand.

                            Is it sub-par? It depends. Certain fresh pizza is also sub-par.

                            1. re: jfood

                              For me, fresh pizza is a different food group from leftover pizza. And frozen pizza is another food group. Love the fresh, but always order extra (and try not to finish it all...sigh...I can eat my weight in pizza) specifically to have leftover. At home I reheat in a skillet. At the office, in the toaster oven.

                        2. re: Phood

                          phood,
                          a big yes to your point that some foods benefit from reheating.
                          short ribs braised in red wine, lasagna, meatloaf are just a few examples.

                      2. Yes, if it if is thick crust pizza (either Chicago style, or just thick crust)

                        No, if it is thin or Neapolitan style. For this style, I like the leftovers cold.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I think there are other factors, too, that affect one's enjoyment of leftovers. How hungry we are at the time, if how much alcohol was consumed prior to eating something. Also, if you are inhaling cooking odors while making something, your sense of taste and smell will be a little dulled to those flavor/olfactory compounds. The next day, your senses will be restored after they forget.

                          1. re: MartinDC

                            A little wine is definitely a flavor boost for me personally - in a good way. ;-)

                        2. i always like the pizza more hot out of the oven the first go-round. but reheated is good, too.

                          our new trick to avoid the "floppy" pizza is to order the pizza "extra crispy." it works -- at least in our favorite local pizza place, anthony's in falls church, va. we eat in, and not take-out -- so, i think that affects how "floppy" it is. in the take-out box, the pizza is going to steam, and thus flop more.

                          1. I find that while the crust may be "crispier" thereby better in my opinion, the re-heated toppings have lost a lot of taste resulting in the re-heat being far behind the original for my liking.

                            1. This underscores an epidemic in this country of under cooked pizza. Even from many restaurants pizza is often under cooked. Pizza should have some crunch and some char

                              I have no problem eating reheated pizza from the toaster oven since I can get the crust crisp and the quality of take out pizza in general is such that it doesn't taste that much better fresh than reheated.

                              We don't eat pizza too much these days but my brother has a technique for take out. When he calls in his order he goes outside and gets his grill started. He tells them not to cut the pizza. When it's delivered he slides it onto the grill to cook the under cooked crust then slides it back into the box and runs it inside.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                scubadoo, if you're ever down punta gorda way, go to "old monty's pizza" -- it's superb.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/617667
                                the stromboli is also outstanding. get both!

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Yet another love we have in common, alkapa - stromboli. Its so dreamy, when done right. A place back home in PA called Two Boys From Italy made the best stuff. Ham, salami, mozz, peppers and mushrooms. Mm mm good.

                              2. Here's what I do:
                                I turn the oven on to 425 degrees. Then I immediately put the leftover pizza directly on the cold oven rack. I put a sheet of aluminum foil on the rack below to catch any wayward melting cheese. As soon as the oven hits 425 with the oven beep, out comes the perfect leftover pizza.

                                1. Reheated pizza can be very good. But I believe in heating it in oven or toaster oven until the cheese is flowing as good as when it was made. I always modify the original pizza. Enhancements might be red pepper flakes or thin sliced salami or crushed garlic or diced green pepper or olives

                                  You can even re-heat a slice in a cast iron fry pan with lid on and get a good char on the bottom. Then while you eat slice #1 you have slice #2 warming up in the frying pan

                                  1. I love it reheated. I keep the shiny microwave forms from CK pizzas and reheat leftover pizza that way, plus do it in the regular oven.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bayoucook

                                      ...mercy.

                                    2. I have to re-open this topic after having some re-heated pizza that was pretty limp from the toaster oven.

                                      I'm sure it's because I re-heated it on aluminum foil (though at 400 degrees), but I just don't want to have to clean 'oozed' cheese cheese from the rack and tray below. Other suggestions welcome, that don't involve significant clean-up......... if they exist.

                                      By the way, I think I may be one of only a few people who got this far through life without liking cold leftover pizza. I can handle cheese cold, but cold pizza sauce and olive oil just start to clog my insides from the plate (or box).

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: Midlife

                                        Low heat on cast iron frying pan with a cover on. Some people even flip the pizza. Little cleanup.

                                        1. re: zzDan

                                          We freeze the leftover pizza than reheat at 425!!!

                                          1. re: jack103

                                            I guess a frying pan is the best idea for re-heating slices. I would think a pre-heated pizza stone would work too, if I had one. Right on the rack and slices just ooze the cheese all over.

                                            1. re: Midlife

                                              I make a lot of pizza at home. The best re-heating technique for my pies is so simple it will make you laugh:

                                              Cut a sheet of aluminum foil a little bigger than the slice you want to heat. Make some modest folds on all four corners for stability. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the foil pan and its pizza on a middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes and check things out. It usually takes 12-13 minutes in total but it's best to check early.
                                              This simple method works for for me. The pizza won't be as good as fresh-baked but that's a given. Results should be satisfactory.

                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                For me any foil underneath seems to always make the bottom crust too soft. Must be a steaming thing between the foil and the crust.

                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                  That's the beauty of the process. Generally speaking, reheating on a stone or some other base results in an over-baked crust, not at all like bread.

                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                    It's good that you found a way to reheat your pizza the way you like it. I don't like bread-like pizza crust. I like it crispy/crunchy -- even a little blackened is good for me.

                                              2. re: Midlife

                                                I just put it on a metal preheated pizza pan in a 350 degree oven. It gets nice and crispy - just the way I like it. The way to avoid limp lifeless reheated pizza is to leave it in the oven about 10 mins.

                                          2. re: Midlife

                                            I tried the frying pan method yesterday and it did a very good job except for slightly burning the bottom. I would think that's a trial and error thing............. and the slight burning didn't really have much of a negative effect on taste. Even with a lid on the pan for a while, the pizza was better than in our toaster oven. The only other problem was that our favorite pizza place makes only very large size pizzas and our largest fry pan will hold only one slice comfortably (maybe two if you cut them in half and do some jigsaw-puzzling.

                                            1. re: Midlife

                                              Midlife,

                                              Try this. Take your pizza out and let it come to room temp (this is key). Then put your cast iron pan in then oven. Preheat the oven to about 450F. Then turn off your oven and put your pizza in the cast iron pan. Leave it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes and you're good to go.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                I do let it come to room temp. Will that work with a non-stick steel-on-aluminum pan? It's never made sense to me. but I haven't had much luck with cast iron pans and gave ours to our son. That's also a lot of time invested if I need to do it more than once for more pizza than will fit in one pan.

                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                  Not sure Midlife. The thing with the cast iron is that it is a good heat conductor and holds the heat well, so when you put the pizza on it, there is a slow heat transfer, which allows you to reheat (and get a nice crispy crust) without drying out the toppings or burning the bottom.

                                                  That said, I wouldn't bother getting a cast iron pan just to reheat pizza (although I must admit, cast iron pan is GREAT for making pizza for one!).

                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                    ...but if YOU ARE A RED-BLOODED AMERICAN, YOU ALREADY HAVE A CAST IRON PAN (or several) SO I AM IN THE MIDDLE OF DELICIOUS PIZZA..

                                            2. Lynnlato,

                                              I'm afraid that I am not a fan of reheated pizza. It is inevitably inferior to the original, both in texture and in taste. Reheating pizza "tones down" the spices in the pizza (it's like sprinkling "bland" on everything) and creates a war between drying out the top of the pizza and crisping up the bottom of the pizza, after its sojourn in the refrigerator. By the time the crust is sufficiently crisp, the top is overcooked.

                                              Using a lower temperature does no good because then the crust never gets crispy.

                                              As some posters above have noted, your finding an improvement in the pizza after reheating is probably because the pizzeria did not fully cook the pizza to begin with. (As one of the posters noted, there seems to be a recent epidemic of undercooked pizzas in this country. I have no idea why suddenly myriad pizzerias are undercooking their pizzas, anymore than I can explain the sudden disappearance of spoons as a standard part of the place setting in many restaurants!)

                                              By the way, thanks for the topic. I thoroughly enjoy your postings.