As a busy college student, when meal swipes and Dooley Dollars are running low, the first easy, cheap meal is pizza. It’s a simple carb load before any exam. But the next time a pizza order is brought up, skip Al Forno’s.

A new restaurant located in Midtown Atlanta, the pizzeria is a carry-out and delivery-only start up. The restaurant promises fresh, piping hot, artisanal pizzas to your door. But the the trade-off for that freshness is that the customer has to finish cooking the pizza themselves. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and pop the pizza in for 5 minutes for a complete restaurant experience.

Not only is having a fully functioning kitchen at your disposal an integral part of the ordering process, but customers living near Emory should also expect the pizza to take up to an hour to arrive (since the restaurant is located in Midtown) and then to wait another few minutes for the pizza to finish baking.

After the agonizing wait for delivery — and an additional 5 minutes to finish baking — my steaming margherita pizza was ready. It smelled heavenly, but I was turned off immediately after the first bite. What seemed to be a promising cheesy, tomato sauce-filled bite was overpowered by the olive oil used on the crust. The tomato and cheese flavors of a regular pizza were not present, as the artisanal olive oil took over the whole show. The pizza crust, however, was delicious, even though it lacked the satisfying crunch of a typical thin crust. Overall, the pizza was doughy and smothered in oil.

To order the pizza, I used a website called “ChowNow.” The website is simple to use, which is a positive aspect of the ordering experience. But the delivery fee alone was more than $5 without tip. The other downside? There was a minimum order balance of $15. The website lacked a delivery tracking feature, which I’ve come to expect after being pampered by Domino’s. This would be frustrating for any late-night Uber-eats fanatic.

My medium margherita pizza came to $10. Given the pizza’s price, its size was acceptable and fed two people. The pizza arrived underbaked as expected, and the instructions for completing the cooking stuck to the inside of the pizza box, outlining the process clearly for the consumer.

While the ordering and cooking procedure was plainly spelled out, I still would have preferred a less interactive experience. When I order pizza, I am typically swayed by the idea of not having to do dishes or cook anything. I want to place the order and find a fully-cooked meal at my doorstep within minutes.

Overall, ordering from Al Forno’s was a negative experience for me, though if you like cooking it may be more positive for you. The food was subpar, and the delivery service was frustrating. The only positive aspect was the promise of fresh ingredients, and even then, what I perceived as fresh could have just been undercooked.

1.5/5 stars