How to Eat Pizza on a Date

Learn how to eat pizza on a date!

Dating can seem like a war zone. A treacherous path lined with etiquette traps, tough calls and — and like war, it’s hard to declare a definitive win. There’s an awful lot of anxiety that goes into the first date. There are billions of articles outlining the ways you can offend your date, from ordering the wrong foods to letting your nervous habits make a terrible first impression. Order a salad, and you seem either self-conscious or high-maintenance, especially if you order the dressing on the side (gasp!). Order a steak, and you seem like a gluttonous, overconfident jerk… Ugh, and if you get soup — there’s a lot to unpack there. All these messages from society that can easily have you second guessing your choices in basic human needs like food and clothing, while at the same time perpetuating strange gendered customs in a world where that has increasingly less value  —  dating is a weird place to be sure.

The amount of online content devoted exclusively to eating in public, while simultaneously trying to attract a mate is daunting at best. There are rules about onions and garlic, about too many toppings, about how to properly hold knives and forks and how many beers you can consume without appearing like a wild boar out on the town. It’s exhausting.

Before the Date

There’s a reason many people in the modern dating scene opt to forgo dinner and just grab a quick coffee or a glass of wine. Preparing for a full meal on the first date can be a daunting task. Its guaranteed to have some notable lulls, nervous laughter and fiddling with the menu. You’re eating actual food for the first time with what amounts to a total stranger. That’s no small thing. Pretty much the worst thing you can do is agree to go on a date to a place where you’re really not a fan of the food. The whole point of going out with someone is to get to know them better, enjoy their company and just have a nice night out. If you’re uncomfortable the entire time, you’re focus will become more primal — i.e. your immediate concern is what would alleviate the situation. This is one thing that needs to be sorted out when planning the date. You must both establish a place where you both enjoy the food, rather than go somewhere just to impress each other. At the end of the day, food that you both like is a necessity if you want to have something in common. These can all be pre-date questions to ask one another.

Preparing for a full meal on the first date can be daunting.

Forget all the rules about eating something appropriate, or all those listicles that reveal what the food you order says about your personality  —  i.e. eating soup on date is weird, avoid garlic at all costs, don’t get the salad, and so on and so forth. The best food to eat is the kind of food, that you know, tastes good. If you are enjoying yourself, both parties will feel more relaxed, and that’s when the conversation gets good. Stop looking at the ground asking, “So um…what do you do for work again…”

Given our position, as relative pizza experts, at Giordano’s we might be a touch biased, but we say, throw these conventions out the window and take that date of yours out for pizza. You know it’s probably your favorite food, and you can probably venture a guess that it’s your date’s too, even if you’ve yet to meet in person.

So, now you’ve swiped right, asked out that cute guy from the coffee shop, or confessed to long-time friend you like them more than just a friend — and they’ve agreed to go out with you. In any case, now that you’ve locked down that date for Friday night, there’s still some work to be done. What’s next, you ask? Well, you’ve got to pick a place. Do you go with French, or a burger joint? Perhaps margaritas and tacos, or some sweet southern barbecue? Nope — none of the above. Pizza. Casual, cool and definitely everybody’s favorite, it’s the perfect date night cuisine. Don’t listen to the naysayers — pizza is the ideal first date. Tasty, mellow and relatively inexpensive, you really can’t go wrong.

Now before you write off this idea, or accuse us of being crazy, hear us out. Here’s why the pizza date rocks, whether it’s the first or fiftieth.

  • It won’t break the bank
  • You can find in in just about any city or town
  • It’s exceptionally hard to make a fool out of yourself while eating a slice — which makes for the best, fool-proof date food. Compare it to other options, like sushi, where you may fumble with chopsticks and appear uncultured.
  • Pizza also functions as a way to weed out the “wrong” person. If you invite someone out for dinner and they say they don’t like pizza, it could be time to rethink this crush.

If your crush says they don't like pizza, it could be time to rethink the date.

Although we feel we’ve already made the case for a romantic, cheese-filled evening, here’s a few more things to keep in mind before venturing out on the big date:

Mind Your Manners

Above all else, no matter how “chill” this date feels, you still have to keep your inner-Emily Post in check. Even if it is just pizza, you must still mind your manners. Stick to the basics. Say please and thank you as needed. Be kind and respectful to your server. There’s nothing worse than being on a date with someone, who by all accounts, has been perfectly lovely, but the second the service isn’t quite up to par, it’s like a classic Jekyll and Hyde situation. Blowing up at a server is never okay. Neither is snapping to get their attention, deciding to not tip, and so on and so forth. Before you go on a date, here’s a few reminders on keeping it together:

  • Utensils — We’re entering contentious territory here. Whether or not to use utensils when eating pizza is an age-old debate. For the most part, pizza is best eaten with the hands. It’s laid back, easy and doesn’t really raise any red flags. Do eat your pizza with a knife and fork if you so happen to be at an upscale restaurant. Also, if you really went for it and ordered Chicago-style deep dish or something that has a high topping count. It’s far better to be seen eating pizza with a fork than to have to work it into your outfit — bright red sauce isn’t exactly subtle.
  • Drinking — Pizza and beer are perhaps one of history’s greatest couples. If you’re feeling nervous, it can be tempting to grease the wheels so to speak, and down a few brews before your date walks in the door. It goes without saying, you should try not to drink too much, as your date might end up thinking you have alcohol issues, etc. Luckily, pizza, in all its breaded, topping-loaded glory is good at soaking up a bit of overzealous drinking, so if you’re moving a little too fast, you may be able to redeem yourself. Take cues from your date. Do they want to split a pitcher with you, or are they gravitating more toward water? It can be a little uncomfortable if you’re not on the same page concerning alcohol. Keep an eye out for red flag behavior from both you and your date, and when in doubt, have some water. You need 8-10 glasses a day anyway.

Beer and pizza are a classic pair.

  • Condiment Behavior — Are you into sauce? Tabasco sauce on your pizza, extra ranch dip on the side? Parmesan galore? Tone it down. We get it, sometimes the fun lies in the accoutrement. But if it’s the first date, chill. Dousing on the condiments, or eating them without the main course, comes across a little wrong.
  • Wait Staff — As far as date etiquette goes, how you interact with the wait staff is by far the most important, and perhaps most telling of what kind of person you are. On the flip side, check out how your date interacts with the waitress — their behavior over the course of a meal can be indicative of how they end up treating you for the long haul. If they seem over critical and hard to please, it’s only a matter of time before you are on the receiving end of that criticism.
  • Navigating the Dessert Menu–Keep in mind, if you made it to dessert, you should be giving yourself pat on the back — that’s an accomplishment in its own right! If you find you’re still a little worried about how silly you look while eating a piece of cheesecake, or that triple mudslide something or other, try sticking to something slightly more toward the simple side. Chocolate cake could end up around your mouth, and it all depends on how kind your date is in telling you that you have food on around your mouth.
  • Who Pays for the Date — Okay, it’s 2016, so if you asked the other person out, you should be prepared to pay. Where once the man used to be on the hook for the date, it’s fair to at least assume you’ll be splitting the check.
  • Cell Phones — In the age of all things digital from after-hours work emails to Snapchat, Instagram, and now “Pokemon GO,” it can take a strong mind to set that phone down and get down to just connecting with someone on a personal level. Look we’ve all been the one to pick up their phone at a slightly inappropriate moment, and likely been on the receiving end of that rudeness as well. Don’t do it — it’ll be nice to remember how enjoyable an “analog” night out can be.

Other Pizza-Related Thoughts

Now that we’ve gotten the dreaded subject of dating manners out of the way, and you’ve got a time and place for the date locked down. Here’s some things to watch out for when navigating the treacherous waters of pizza varieties and toppings. As we just mentioned, with all the rules and rituals surrounding the dating mythology, there is a lot goes into consideration. With a pizza date, you’re eating your favorite food in a comfortable, easy-going atmosphere. But beware of the friendly disagreements that could arise, i.e., cheese vs. pepperoni vs. the less traditional BBQ chicken with white sauce-type pie. Some things to be aware of are:

  • Toppings — Negotiating the topping space is another unexpected challenge. Maybe your date is a plain Jane where pizza is concerned, and you’re eye-balling some wild toppings like crocodile or controversial ones like anchovies. This is a good place to gain some insights on your date’s food preferences. Are they a classic pepperoni person, or a vegetarian?

Negotiating the topping space is an unexpected challenge.

  • White Sauce vs. Red — You’ve got the choice of the delicate, creamy yet slightly unconventional white pie playing against what arguably makes pizza, taste like, well pizza. If you’re thinking white here, defer to your date before ordering, especially if you two lovebirds plan on sharing. The white sauce pizza, albeit delicious, isn’t for everyone.
  • Chicago Deep Dish vs. East Coast Thin Crust — Although a thick, dramatically tomato sauced, deep dish pie is kind of our signature dish here at Giordano’s, we’d like to mention that unless you are both die-hard deep dish fans, it’s probably a good idea to think thin on your date. People tend to get defensive with their regional pizza preferences, so tread lightly.

Once you’ve made your pizza selections (and inevitable compromises), you should be in the clear. On the off chance that getting some tasty pizza in your system doesn’t soothe all those requisite first date jitters, just try to stay calm, and don’t overthink it. Once your pies arrive, kick back, relax and enjoy the conversation. Even if you get stuck making small talk about where you grew up, went to college, and what your parents are up to these days, etc., you’re still eating pizza, and therefore, life is good.

If you’re looking for a great date spot in the Chicago area, stop by Giordano’s. We’ve got an extensive lineup of pizzas from our signature Chicago-style deep dish, to thin-crust cheese and classic pepperoni. We even have salad, if you must get leafy greens involved in your love life. And, if you’re looking for a date night at home, order your pizza online, while you set up a movie. We also ship frozen pizzas, but if you’re thinking of doing that for a date, it might take a little more planning.