Manner Matters: How to Order Pizza for a Group


Why does pizza make everyone so rude? [Photo: Robyn Lee

Dear Molly,

At a lot of informal gatherings, someone will suggest everyone throw in some money to order pizza. What is the best way to decide what kind of pizza to order when you have a large group of people with different tastes? I always assumed that one should poll the group on restrictions and preferences (allergies, vegetarianism, etc), then order a variety based on that. Maybe one pizza with pepperoni, one veggie, and one cheese, for example.

But I have been to parties where one person just made an executive decision and ordered several pizzas, all with really odd combinations of toppings. Also, if one person in the group has a clear restriction where only one of the pizzas ordered will suit their needs, is it rude for others in the group to take slices from that pizza? I have definitely seen the lone vegetarian in the group wind up with only one slice of pizza because everyone else took a slice of one of the meat pizzas and a slice of the veggie one, too.

Thanks, Perplexed By Pizza

Dear Perplexed,

Here's a time where a little communication can, as is so often the case, go a long way.

If everyone is pitching in money, everyone gets a say in what to order. It is kind to the person coordinating the ordering to be flexible. "I'll eat anything" is a nice thing to say in such a situation. This is not a time to list your food preferences in detail, although you can voice general preferences that may help the coordinator make a final call. Things like "I prefer sausage to pepperoni" or "I'm not a big fan of mushrooms," gives the person some sense of what might please people without too much fuss. If you know the pizzeria where the order is being placed, go ahead and point out favorite combinations if it seems helpful.


No such thing as too many pizza shots. [Photo: Robyn Lee]

If someone is hosting, i.e. paying for the pizza, they do get to decide what they're going to buy and serve. Smart people go for boring but crowd-satisfying standards and always make sure there is a hefty portion of plain cheese.

If there is only one vegetarian or one person in need of, say, cheese-free pizza, and there is a limited amount of what they can eat, everyone should be aware of that and not tuck into that pizza until the person with special dietary needs has been served. That said, in informal settings like the ones you're describing, not everyone may even be aware that there is an issue of someone getting enough food. The person with the restriction needs to stick up for themselves a bit and shoulder in for the food they can eat.

And what to do if someone has gone ahead and ordered a bunch of one type of pizza that you don't care for? Stop whining and either discreetly pick off what you don't like and make it work or go out and buy your own food. Perhaps next time you'll volunteer to do the ordering.

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