Pizza and soda are a match made in Friday night heaven. Pepsi certainly had this one true pairing in mind when the company invented a Pepsi-flavored pepperoni pizza in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America — so you know the flavors are on point. Fittingly, the Pepsi-Roni creation launched in the birthplace of American pizza as we know it, New York City, on National Pizza Party Day on May 20. I got an early taste, and this Pepsi-flavored pizza review digs into everything you want to know about what this slice tastes like.
While the unique flavor combo launched at Made In New York Pizza in the West Village, the Pepsi-Roni pizza will make its way to more U.S. cities throughout the summer. If they’re anything like what I experienced in NY, you’re in for a treat. The classic New York-style pizzeria was Pepsi-fied in and out with Pepsi-Roni decorations for the limited-edition launch. As soon as I walked in, the familiar smell of freshly baked pizza filled the room. I grabbed a slice of the distinctively hand-tossed, thin crust New York-style pie that had been dotted with rounds of the Pepsi-flavored pepperoni — and that’s where things get interesting.
Look closely and you’ll see the pepperoni has been branded with the Pepsi logo — a nice touch that made this pizza even more unique. The Pepsi-Roni pizza slice had a puffed cornicione, aka the edge of the crust, that was crisp to the touch. The surface glistened from the melted cheese, with a thinly spread layer of tomato sauce that peaked out from the bottom. All in all, it seemed like a regular pizza experience, but remember, there is Pepsi in here.
For the Pepsi-Roni, the company reduced Pepsi Zero Sugar down to a glaze and bottled it as a drizzle for the pizza. I went light on the drizzle, but it definitely packed an extra dose of sugariness compared to the regular slice.
As for the main character, the Pepsi-Roni, the sweetness of Pepsi came through on the first bite. It was noticeably smoky and caramelized. Hey, if salted caramel can work, why shouldn’t sweet pepperoni? The balance between the savory, creamy cheese and the tartness of the tomato sauce worked impeccably well with the maltiness of the Pepsi-Roni. Bonus points for the perfectly toasted edges of the Pepsi-Roni that added a slight crunch to the texture. My only wish is for there to have been more Pepsi-Roni pieces on the pie because they were that good.
I have no doubt that Pepsi and CIA’s chefs put their culinary masterminds together when they created the Pepsi-Roni. According to Pepsi, they layered the “sweet and citrus zest Pepsi is known for with the standard spice blends found in pepperoni” for “an American take on classic Italian meats and spices.” And as for why Pepsi is the perfect pizza pairing, per the company, the acidity from Pepsi to the umami (earthy) flavor in the sauce and cheese.
Pepsi and pizza aficionados were treated to a slice of free ‘za at Made in New York Pizza at 561 Hudson St. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, May 20. The limited-edition flavor will also be making appearances in Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami, and Chicago in the upcoming weeks. Here’s to hoping that the Pepsi-Roni is here to stay because I’ll be first in line.