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What's the Best Chain Pizza?


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#1 gfweb

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 11:57 AM

Yesterday I was trapped at a hotel at a interstate exit in Wyoming with no car, no restaurant, no room service and nothing nearby.

So I ordered from Papa John's (who would deliver). It was brought promptly, with a pleasant delivery person, and was just wretched.

The crust was OK under the circumstances, but sauce was barely present, and the cheese was some strange stuff in a thin layer over some of the dough. It looked painted-on. The pizza came with packets of parm, spices, garlic and red pepper. E ven taking into consideration that I was in Casper, WY, it was just awful.

So are there any national pizza chains that can be trusted?

#2 Kim Shook

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 12:05 PM

If you mean regular pizza - like Domino's, Pizza Hut, etc. I think that you are out of luck. I actually prefer frozen pizza to those places. It's a shame, but that's my opinion.

#3 Lisa Shock

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 12:19 PM

I hadn't had commercial pizza in years, and just did a taste-test of every place near my house that delivers. The only decent one is a mom & pop. The chains are all pretty bad. Dominoes hand tossed was the best of the lot, I guess.

If only California Pizza Kitchen or Grimaldi's would deliver...

#4 Hassouni

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 12:38 PM

Bertucci's is pretty damn good for a national chain....

#5 Kim Shook

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 12:48 PM

Thanks, Hassouni! We actually have one near us. We might even try it this week since Mr. Kim is home all week painting!

#6 Dave the Cook

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 12:57 PM

Yesterday I was trapped at a hotel at a interstate exit in Wyoming with no car, no restaurant, no room service and nothing nearby.

So I ordered from Papa John's (who would deliver). It was brought promptly, with a pleasant delivery person, and was just wretched.

The crust was OK under the circumstances, but sauce was barely present, and the cheese was some strange stuff in a thin layer over some of the dough. It looked painted-on. The pizza came with packets of parm, spices, garlic and red pepper. E ven taking into consideration that I was in Casper, WY, it was just awful.

So are there any national pizza chains that can be trusted?

Without saying that Papa John's makes great pizza (they don't; it's just decent), your experience seems anomalous to me. I'm not proud of how many of their pizzas I've eaten, but it's been quite a few, and I've never received product like you've described. Should future circumstances require it and you can order from another outlet, you might give them a second chance. If you don't like that specimen, then probably you just don't like the way Papa John's makes pizza. As it stands now, all that's certain is that you don't like the way one store in Wyoming interprets (or screws up) the recipe.

Bertucci's is pretty damn good for a national chain....

It will be a long while before you can order a Bertucci's pizza in Wyoming.

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#7 Lisa Shock

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 01:06 PM

Bertucci's is pretty damn good for a national chain....


I wouldn't call them national. They appear to be located exclusively on the northerly part eastern seaboard.

#8 gfweb

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 01:13 PM

. As it stands now, all that's certain is that you don't like the way one store in Wyoming interprets (or screws up) the recipe.


It is equally possible that you need to taste good pizza sometime.

#9 Crouton

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 01:15 PM

If you're near the south, Mellow Mushroom is fantastic.

#10 Dave the Cook

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 01:43 PM


. As it stands now, all that's certain is that you don't like the way one store in Wyoming interprets (or screws up) the recipe.


It is equally possible that you need to taste good pizza sometime.

No, it's not. I've had good -- even great -- pizza, though not from Papa John's. All I'm saying is that your single experience with their product doesn't match my multiple encounters with it.

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#11 gfweb

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 02:31 PM



. As it stands now, all that's certain is that you don't like the way one store in Wyoming interprets (or screws up) the recipe.


It is equally possible that you need to taste good pizza sometime.

No, it's not. I've had good -- even great -- pizza, though not from Papa John's. All I'm saying is that your single experience with their product doesn't match my multiple encounters with it.


Yes. You are right. I was responding to what I read as being a dismissive answer.

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#12 jsmeeker

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 03:08 PM

large chains? I would say none of them. Especially if you talk about chains that are only or primarily delivery.


If you go extend to places like CPK, then that is a decent choice if you like the style of pizzas they have. Grimaldi's is very good, but the number of locations they have is fairly limited. But if one was in the area, that is where I would go.

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#13 Dave the Cook

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 04:11 PM

When you're in one of several situations: working/worked late; too tired to cook; kitchen renovation; plumbing emergency; stuck in a hotel in Casper, WY without a car: it's not about getting good pizza. That's almost certainly not going to happen. It's about choosing which of the available options will fill your stomach without revulsion. In my experience, the big three -- Pizza Hut, Domino's and Papa John's -- almost always fit this bill. They're all different in minor ways, but equally acceptable.

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#14 Jane Randahl

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 04:15 PM

If you mean regular pizza - like Domino's, Pizza Hut, etc. I think that you are out of luck. I actually prefer frozen pizza to those places. It's a shame, but that's my opinion.



Absolutely right. These are the fast foods of the pizza industry and the product is not that high of quality.

Finding a good one is pretty much fool's errand.

I'm in Portland so I get the luxury of Apizza Scholls. I had Dominoes delivered here too one day and I guess it wasn't all that bad. Leaps and bounds better than it was, but sell nothing compared to good pizza.

I guess you get what you pay for and delivery is probably the only reason these places are even competitive.

#15 weinoo

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 04:52 PM

Is it possible that the Papa John's in Wyoming truly sucks and that there are passable Papa John's pizzas to be had in certain locations. I've never had it and doubt I ever will.
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#16 Emily_R

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 05:11 PM

I don't order any of them often (maybe once a year?) But to me, I prefer Dominos over Papa Johns, and both of those to Pizza Hut. At least in my memory from a few years back, the Domino's sausage actually tasted decent...

#17 Hassouni

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 06:04 PM

If you're near the south, Mellow Mushroom is fantastic.


Oh yeah, MM is fun, with pretty good if not earth-shattering pizza. They JUST opened up one in DC, I have yet to go (I've been to the one right next to UVA in Charlottesville, VA, a couple times)

#18 kayb

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 06:42 PM

Don't know how widespread it is, but there's a chain here, Papa Murphy's, which makes the pizza which you pick up, uncooked, and take home to bake. I'm not a lover of any kind of chain pizza, nor any kind of pizza except the honest to God New York style with the crispy cracker-type crust, but we order a ton of it because I work late a lot and have a teenaged son who thinks pizza is one of the major food groups (but won't touch one I make with homemade ingredients). He prefers Papa John's over Pizza Hut or Domino's. I sometimes pick up Papa Murphy's, and it's reasonably decent for chain pizza.

For reference purposes, the best pizza I ever had was at Papa's Tomato Pies in Trenton, NJ. Memphis Pizza Kitchen makes a decent one as well. Beyone that, meh.
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#19 Shel_B

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 09:18 PM

Bertucci's is pretty damn good for a national chain....


National chain? I never heard of it, so, thinking I missed something, I checked. Turns out, it's only in a few states on the east coast.

Oh. well, I guess I can try it when I visit the NE ...

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#20 gfweb

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 09:43 PM

I agree RE Bertuccis, a northeast chain. Reliably good pizza but the rest of their menu isn't great. Pasta is mushy and chicken dishes are similarly overcooked.



#21 Pierogi

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 11:04 PM

Seems to me that when Papa John's first expanded to the West Coast, like about 10 years ago, they were markedly better than Domino's or Pizza Hut. At least I thought so at the time. I would choose it regularly over the other two options.About 6 or 8 months ago, I went through some pretty major health stuff, and I wasn't cooking, literally at all, but still needed to get some sustenance into me. I was getting burnt out on canned Progresso soup and boxed mac & cheese, so I decided to order a pizza from Papa John's. It was......dreadful. I don't think I even ate one whole piece. I seriously wouldn't feed it to the dogs. Very similar to gfweb's description, flaccid crust, acrid sauce (what there was of it) and plastic cheese. Granted, at the time, nothing was tasting particularly good to me, but this was below dreck. During the same time period, I also ordered a pizza from Domino's, and, at least in my 'hood, it's a much better choice. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but edible, which I don't consider PJ's to be.

None of the other chains posters have cited as being good (Bertucci, Magic Mushroom, etc.) make an appearance in SoCal. Our other major chain is Pizza Man, and I haven't had one of their pies in years. Even Little Cesar's doesn't have much of a presence out here.

For the most part, I'm with Kim Shook. When I want a quick & dirty pizza, I usually get a frozen CPK or DiGiorno, or one of the "take and bake" fresh pies sold in most of the local MegaMarts and skip the chains entirely.

I think Papa John's may be a victim of the Boston Market/Quizno's/Chipotle phenomena....too much expansion, too soon and fast, wtih too little quality control.
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#22 annachan

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:59 AM

If I'm really, really desperate....Round Table was the poison of choice out of the big chains (the other big chains near by being Domino's and Pizza Hut). We didn't have other big chains around. Some of the smaller chains, at about the same price points, weren't any better. Good thing we had a great local pizza place that makes great pizzas and Brazilian food.

#23 Darienne

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:47 AM

Is it possible that the Papa John's in Wyoming truly sucks and that there are passable Papa John's pizzas to be had in certain locations. I've never had it and doubt I ever will.

I can't speak for pizza chains...the only commercial pizza we ever eat, and it's stored in the freezer and is for unexpected young men basically, is Kraft Delicioso Supreme...but we do eat at McDonald's (salads) and Taco Bell (and salads) at interstate pull-offs on our way across the USA and back, and I can state there is definitely a difference between the various outlets, particularly the Taco Bells. And we're talking about salads only.

All the pizzas we have eaten at chains have been pretty awful in the last couple of decades.
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#24 lindag

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:50 AM

In Oregon, Washington and MT we have Papa Murphy's take and bake as well. Don't know how widespread the chain is though.
It is the best pizza available; I've been going there for years and have yet to get a pizza that wasn't great (for a take-out style pizza).
I like to try their different varieties and have always been pleased with what I've got.

#25 haresfur

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:38 PM

I find Papa Murphy's too salty. The crust is average but the toppings good enough. Generally what I got for take away. Can you get them cooked if you are on the road, though?

I used to do Round Table for lunch with friends. Pizza was decent and the salad bar pretty good.

My standard response at Pizza Hut when asked, "How was everything?" was "Up to your usual standards." :huh:
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#26 et alors

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 04:58 PM

+1 on Round table. Meat lovers is doable.

I almost fell over backwards when I saw a Shakey's in Tokyo... I thought they were extinct.
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#27 janeer

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:18 PM

don't know if you have Papa Gino's where you are. It is a not bad version of real East Coast pizza. Garibaldi's appears to be a chain now--coal-oven pizza, quite good.

#28 Refined Vintage

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:39 PM

We have a Pizza chain in Michigan, I do not know if they are throughout the mid west or only Mi. but Jets is a franchise pizzeria/delivery, and they have a very good deep dish pizza. Nice fresh mushrooms, real cheese, crust that is soft and crunchy on the corner edges, really quite good! I for one do not like
Frozen pizza, something about the crust is all wrong. The best Pizza is usually found at local Italian Restaurants. So I would suggest trying to find a local recommendation when in a new area.

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#29 ScottyBoy

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 09:23 PM

Well +1 for Round Table but the main problem is...do they have it in Wyoming?

Kind of funny since I'm eating it right now (Day off and don't want to cook a thing and not leaving the house". The chicken and garlic pie is the only thing I order, very good but I have to say it's gonna be a couple extra dollars for Round Table.
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#30 Pierogi

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 10:01 PM

I used to love Round Table when there was one close to me, but alas no more. The chain seems to have dramatically shrunk in the last 15 or so years. Not much of a presence in SoCal any longer, I'm afraid. Surprisingly, Shakey's is stronger. None close to me, but still around. Again, haven't sampled their wares in many years, so don't know if they're any good. There's also one other chain I forgot about (probably because their pizza is so forgettable), Straw Hat. I think they're strictly a California operation. Nothing to write home about.

Agreed that small, Ma & Pa Italian restaurants are the way to go, but a), they're few and far between in the 'burbs, b), they usually don't deliver, and c) in the OP's situation of being stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no food options, probably not a realistic solution.

Bottom line.....national chain pizzas suck.

Edited by Pierogi, 21 May 2012 - 10:02 PM.

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