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Saying 'Si' To Cici's..!
CiCi's Pizza Buffet (USA Chain)
Member Name: Wee_Jackie_163
CiCi's Pizza Buffet (USA Chain)
Date: 07/06/12, updated on 07/06/12 (69 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent value & Delicious food..!
Disadvantages: Would have liked better salad options..!
"Cici's Pizza" is a fast food chain in Orlando, with several branches being located in the larger tourist hotspots. I visited one of the restaurants in May 2012 and this review outlines my experience.
Located at 7437 International Drive (known as I-Drive) in Orlando, the restaurant we visited was within easy walking distance of the I-ride trolley stop nearby. The stop number that we used was number 14, on the Red Line North Bound line. This sounds quite complicated but it is not difficult to find Cici's restaurant as it is quite large and can be seen easily from the pedestrian pathway on I-drive. It may be worth noting that there is a second branch of the restaurant located further down I-drive which is located next to stop 20 on the Red Line South Bound line.
When we arrived at the restaurant it was about 5 pm and we were extremely hungry. We had decided to take advantage of the fact that we would be passing by Cici's restaurant after a busy day sightseeing, thinking that it would be a quick and easy dinner solution that was quite fuss-free. In addition to this, we had noticed a coupon for Cici's in a tourist booklet that we had come across in the local Tourist Information office. (Just as a side note, when visiting Orlando I would highly recommend picking up any little booklets and maps that you see in endless supply scattered around hotel lobbies and tourist areas. They are very useful and provide some excellent information alongside value-for-money coupons to use in a variety of eateries and tourist attractions.)
The coupon that we had entitled us to a sort of 'buy one get one free' offer whereby we would only pay the price of one adult buffet for the two of us to dine at the buffet, as long as we purchased two large-sized sodas provided in "To Go" cups. This sounded like a reasonable enough deal to me, but when I saw the price of one adult buffet was only going to cost $5.99, I thought the offer sounded too good to be true.
It is fair to say I was somewhat sceptical before we even arrived at Cici's, as I just couldn't fathom how something that cost so little could be any good. My husband reasoned that we had nothing to lose by giving it a try, and as we were almost passing by the door we may as well see what it was like.
When we arrived, we had to wait in a short line to be served. When we reached the front of the line we handed over our voucher and the girl asked how many of us were eating in. She then gave both of us a large polystyrene cup and took our cash. As we were being served, I was able to witness at least three parties receiving large, boxed pizzas to take-away, so it is worth bearing in mind that Cici's offer this service, although as far as I could tell they do not offer a delivery service.
After paying, we ventured into the main 'body' of the restaurant and picked a booth to sit at. It was extremely busy, with lots of families and other couples dining in. There was ample seating provided however, and we had a choice of booths to choose from. The booth was comfortable with slightly padded seating being provided and the whole table and surrounding area was spotlessly clean, regardless of the large volume of customers in the restaurant at the time.
Whilst I settled in our booth, my husband got our drinks by way of a large drinks machine located at the rear of the restaurant. There was a selection of about eight soft drinks to choose from, such as coke, sprite and orange fanta, with some diet options and water being available too. There was the option to choose ice to be added into your drink but I opted to have mine without, and my drink was still pleasantly chilled. We were free to top up our drinks as much as we wanted, and were of course able to fill our "To Go" cups and take them with us when we left the restaurant.
There were several hot 'counters' running down the side of the restaurant and we were free to go up and fill our plates as much or as little as we wanted. As I scanned the delicious-looking hot pizza on offer, I was impressed to note the variety of toppings, as there must have been at least twelve varieties to choose from. Not only were there several meat-free options available (although I'm not vegetarian, I don't like pepperoni much and won't eat poultry) but it looked as though some were thin and crispy (my preference), whilst others were slightly more 'deep pan' or certainly had a more doughy base. There were also two hot breads on offer, one being a kind of garlic and cheese offering and was absolutely delicious, and a second that had some sort of spinach baked within it. I chose a slice of plain cheese and tomato pizza and a piece of the garlic bread and headed over to the small chiller unit containing the salad bar.
This is where Cici's was slightly under-par in my opinion. There were two large 'bowls' of salad, one which contained some limp-looking iceberg lettuce mixed in with some small cherry tomatoes and pieces of carrot. It all looked as if it had been sitting out for hours and I decided not to bother. The second bowl was almost empty but looked as though it had contained some sort of 'Caesar' salad or certainly something with a pleasant dressing. As there was very little of this left, I was wary as to how long it had been sitting out and in the end I decided not to bother with this one either. I was extremely disappointed as I always thoroughly enjoy eating the delicious salads and beautiful dressings on offer in America, but on this occasion it was not to be. At no point during our time eating in the restaurant did I notice any member of staff change or replenish the bowls of salad which was a bit of a disappointment for me.
This certainly was not the case where the pizza was concerned however, and we witnessed several newly-baked pizzas being cut into servings and placed on the heated counters. Empty plates were removed and some pizzas were 'doubled up' with each other on the plates to allow for new pizzas coming onto the counters.
Incidentally, I believe that you can request a specific pizza to be made up and put on the buffet alongside the other ones, although this isn't something that I witnessed happening whilst we were there. I think you can also order your own pizza rather than eating at the buffet, but again I didn't see anyone doing this so can't comment on it too much. I believe there is a separate children's menu available in Cici's too.
There were two pasta options available on the day I visited. The pasta was quite fresh and lovely and warm. The 'curly' pasta shapes could be scooped easily onto your plate using the large spoon provided and you were then able to choose which sauce you wanted to accompany it. There was a surprisingly rich tomato-type sauce which I had a little of. I thought it tasted quite nice but it wasn't particularly spectacular. There was a second choice which was a creamy sauce tasting faintly of cheese, although I only tasted a small piece of my husbands cheese pasta rather than choosing this for myself. The pastas were both ok and quite nice, but the pizza was far superior to the other food on offer, as far as we were concerned anyway, and we happily helped ourselves to several slices of the assorted pizzas on offer.
The buffet price at Cici's includes dessert, although we did not realise this until we were about half way through our pizza buffet. Admittedly, there is not much choice but still, for the bargain price of our buffet (and of course with one of us eating for free..!) we weren't complaining, and in actual fact it was a nice surprise as we hadn't known about the dessert options beforehand! The three options on offer on the day we visited were a sort of sweet 'pizza' which was served in slices and had a sort of cinnamon 'crumbed' topping. There was also a sort of chocolate brownie-type cake that was cut into small squares and dusted with icing sugar. I didn't have this but I tasted a small piece of my husband's (who couldn't finish his dessert as he had eaten so much pizza!) It was quite nice and tasted home-made. My choice was a small piece of what was like a sort of cinnamon-filled Danish pastry, with a small drizzling of white, sugary icing on top and being served warm, was extremely appetising. The small desserts that we had were just enough as we were both rather stuffed from eating so much pizza.
Whilst we were dining in Cici's, I did notice several members of staff coming round the booth tables to clear away any empty plates and cups. The tables were wiped down thoroughly after they were vacated, ready for the next customers to use them. I thought the restaurant was very well maintained, and even with the large volume of customers being inside the busy restaurant, I noticed very little in the way of food debris or mess lying around on the floor or on other tables.
It is true to say the restaurant felt a little 'soul-less' much in the way a Pizza Hut restaurant in the UK feels at times. With Formica tables and polystyrene cups, it is fair to say there are more 'upmarket' dining options available to tourists visiting the Orlando area. For us however, it offered a cheap and cheerful meal solution that was conveniently located and we couldn't fault the food, with the majority of our meal being beautifully cooked and tasting quite delicious. If only the salad bar had been up to the same high standard!
The branch of Cici's that I visited is open daily from 11am until 10pm, making it an ideal choice for either lunch or dinner. There is free parking in the lot located at the restaurant. According to the chain's website, the store I visited has "Handicap Accessibility" and certainly there were no stairs within the actual restaurant, which was completely flat. Neither my husband or myself used the restrooms within Cici's, so I cannot comment on how good (or bad) these facilities were.
Our meal cost a total of $11.68 which includes tax. As @ the time of writing (June 2012), this amount converts to less than £8 GBP. Considering both my husband and myself left Cici's restaurant feeling completely stuffed and satisfied from our meal, this is an absolute bargain price as far as we are concerned.
Overall, I would really recommend a visit to Cici's quite highly, and in actual fact my husband and myself would have made a second trip to Cici's if we had been in the area for longer, as we were both suitably impressed. For what you pay, the food is of excellent quality and tastes quite delicious. You may have dined in more extravagant and civilised surroundings, but for a quick and easy meal solution you can't beat Cici's!
Summary: I'd highly recommend a visit to Cici's for a cheap and cheerful meal option.
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