Ian’s Pizza is a Madison, Wisconsin original and a favorite amongst college students and protesters alike. Ten years ago a recent college graduate had the vision to take a chance on opening an unorthodox pizzeria that concentrates on selling slices of strange, although tasty combinations of pizza. Perhaps their most famous signature pizza is macaroni and cheese, which is often considered their calling card. With unique pizzas like the Mac n’ Cheese and a business plan that caters to college students and the late night crowds, Ian’s has expanded from its original location in Madison to Milwaukee and even all the way to the north side of Chicago. Through the years Ian’s has become synonymous with bar time eating and has even taken a small part in the historic collective bargaining protest rallies on Wisconsin’s Capitol by supplying protesters from all over the state and country with food during their efforts.
What makes Ian’s so appealing is the almost endless variety of pizza they serve and the anticipation of going in and finding out what kind of selections they have ready for eating. Aside from the common pies, you can experiment with a multitude of different topping choices. They offer almost 30 different specialty pizzas available for order and you can usually find around a half dozen of these sitting behind the counter anytime you stop in wanting a slice right away. Among these are some very interesting concoctions including Philly Cheese Steak, Chicken Alfredo, BBQ Steak and Fries, Spinach Feta Pesto, and ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ which is a combination of BBQ chicken, bacon, ranch, BBQ sauce, and cheddar cheese. While some of these selections might seem a bit extreme, Ian’s pulls them off in a way that often leaves people thinking how they could ever find Chicago Hot Dog pizza so enjoyable.
However, after you get past the initial wonder of so many different and inventive pizza combinations, Ian’s quickly loses its intrigue. The regular pizzas, like cheese and pepperoni, are inexpensive, but dull and uninspired. The real downfall of their pizza comes in areas that are basic for traditional pizzerias. Their crust and marinara sauce lack flavor and actually detract from the clever toppings. The crust is too chewy, which may be somewhat attributed to the fact that they usually cook their pizzas and then reheat them when they serve them by the slice, but this does not justify its subpar performance. The standard marinara sauce is bland and sparse to the point that the pizzas that use BBQ sauce as a base are actually better. These detractors, alone, do not completely ruin the novelty of Ian’s Pizza, but after trying a few of their different specialties you start realizing that this pizza is just not as cool as you originally thought, or as good.