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[Photo: John M. Edwards]

Papa John's has a way of being convenient and consistent but nothing remarkable. It's the kind of pizza that college students come to depend on. I know there was a Papa John's somewhere near my campus; where, exactly, I don't think I cared at the time. It was a utility—I called the number, and 12 minutes later, I had a pizza. Every event involving more than 10 people had at least two pies from Papa John's. When a pizza (and nothing more or less) is what you need, they certainly deliver.

And so it didn't come as a surprise that their newest specialty pizza, the Sausage Sensation, wasn't anything remarkable, either. It's a regular pizza with three kinds of sausage (spicy Italian, sweet, and smoked sausage), red and green peppers, onions and Italian herb seasoning. And when they say herb seasoning, they mean garlic.

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The crust isn't overly greasy like Pizza Hut, the sauce is slightly less sugary than Domino's, and the dough is generally crispy on the bottom and chewy in the middle, without being undercooked. The dough is halfway between deep dish and thin crust, and they've figured out how to evenly dot the cheese with burned spots, without making it a carbon-y mess.

But the Sausage Sensation didn't differ much from the standard pie. It had a crispy bottom crust throughout, soft and chewy dough, and the peppers tasted fresh and crisp; it was perfectly enjoyable hot out of the oven, and when I nuked it three hours later. But the three sausage main event was a little disappointing. I could only identify two: crumbled sausage and sliced rounds of sausage; the third got lost in the others. Though they added a peppery kick and meaty substance to the pizza, it was hardly the sensation promised.

Overall, it's Papa John's pizza; their formula doesn't vary much. The onions were mild, the peppers had that distinct Papa John's taste and crisp; in its favor, it wasn't a big ol' pile of grease, the way a sausage pizza can be. If a decent, meaty version of a decent chain pizza is what you want, you could do worse.

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