Trying out the Fazoli’s Secret Menu (shhhh)

fazoli's logoI wrote a piece about secret menus for LifeZette a few weeks ago that got a lot of positive feedback and visibility. Prior to researching it, I had no idea there were so many restaurants — even swanky joints! — that had well-known but unpublished customer favorites available. I mean, there’s In-n-Out, but heck, their secret menu is published on their Web site, so how “secret” is that?

A few days after publication, the marketing team from Fazoli’s contacted me, asking if I’d like to try their new secret menu item. Yeah, it’s a bit confusing that secret menu items are coming from corporate, but apparently it’s a popular customer concoction and has made the big time (kind of how the Frappaccino was born at Starbucks, actually). In any case, I have memories of eating at Fazoli’s all the time while in grad school at Purdue, so I assented and they sent me some gift cards.

No secret handshake, though. Disappointingly!

This afternoon I was close to one of the Colorado Fazoli’s so I went in and with only a tiny bit of trepidation ordered the “pizza baked spaghetti”, not even really knowing what I was ordering. The server kindly explained that I had to be an “insider” to know about it and that it was popular with the regulars. For under $10, here’s what I got:

pizza baked spaghetti meal with salad and beverage at fazoli's

Ah, you’re looking at that dish on the right and wondering what the heck I have, aren’t you? It’s as it sounds, a dish of spaghetti with pizza cheese and pepperoni on top, as is much more clear when I actually started consuming it (after I finished my salad, ‘natch!):

pizza baked spaghetti close up from fazoli's italian fast food

The restaurant itself, in Northglenn, Colorado, was bright, clean and cheery, with ample seating, more than needed for the late lunch crowd:

fazoli's interior, northglenn CO

I like order secret dishes, there’s a certain frisson of being an “insider”, but unfortunately the dish itself was a bit lackluster, with pasta that tasted like it’d been soaking in hot water for way too long and a marinara sauce that needed more zest and flavor. It wasn’t what I remembered from grad school, but then again, maybe I was so exhausted from non-stop academics that I wasn’t paying attention to my food back then.

Still, if you’re a Fazoli’s fan you should give the pizza baked spaghetti a whirl and see if you like it. I might just prefer more flavorful (fancy code for “spicier”) Italian food…

Disclaimer: Fazoli’s sent me gift cards to encourage me to try out the restaurant and the secret menu item. Clearly that didn’t bias my comments.

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