When I first saw the commercial for the Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza ($12), I wasn't sure what to think. The first thing you see is John Schnatter himself (he loves being in his commercials) flipping a magical burger patty on a grill, turning it into a pizza that he proudly serves up on the counter to a very, very excited crowd of patrons. And as a good consumer and devoted serious eater, my insatiable curiosity about this pizza-burger mashup got the best of me. I set out to give it a test drive.
'Papa John's' on Serious Eats
March Madness may not be quite as good for business as super bowl season, but pizza chains around the country are definitely milking it for all it's worth. So if you're watching the game—or, in my case, resentfully watching your boyfriend watch the game—now's the prime time to sweeten the deal with a big ol' cheesy pizza pie. Here's how to get the maximum bang for your buck.
Even at a place that knows its way around good meatballs, there's a lot that can wrong when you try to top a pizza with them. Adam addressed many of the issues in his "Hey Pizza Joints, Why You Gotta Bust My Meatballs?" post. But despite the textural atrocities, or the harrowing risk of sliced balls, I am a sucker for taking a gamble on a meatball pie.
Serious pizza people scoff at most national chains, and for good reason. I didn't come here to bash the big boys, and there's no need to list their many spongy, undercooked, and overprocessed shortcomings. I mention it simply to establish up front that I agree with the general Slice consensus that chain pizza tends not to be good pizza. But it's a category that can't be ignored by anyone with a TV, a lazy streak, and a love of online ordering.
Papa John's joins the Buffalo chicken pizza craze with their newest addition. Their standard crust gets topped with ranch instead of tomato sauce, bacon, onions, cheese, chicken strips, and generously covered with a swirl of mild Buffalo sauce.
We wanted to do a comprehensive taste test with all four major delivery pizza competitors but hit a few snags along the way. So instead, we're doing a head to head, Domino's vs. Papa John's Thin Crust Tasteoff.
Papa John's has a way of being convenient and consistent but nothing remarkable. 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.
'Even their faces are made out of chicken'
I'm sure you caught this pizza when we posted a still shot of it a couple weeks ago, but now, on the heels of the actual wedding, here's video. The Duke of Cambridge's hair is made of sausage, sliced sausage. Cheers, mates!
On a more serious note, I caught some of the wedding yesterday morning on TV (Girl Slice is a huge fan of the royals), and I have to say I was not unmoved by the whole affair. Best wishes to the newlyweds!
Speaking of Papa John's UK, check out what I saw on the chain's Britain-based homepage! Ventricina salami? From the Emilia Romagna region of Italy?
I didn't think anything about The Royal Wedding would ever find its way onto Slice, but then comes this.
Papa John's has a couple limited-time pizzas on its menu these days, the Spinach Alfredo and the Italian Meats Pizza. Both are $11 right now. We got our greasy mitts on them (both ordered on thin-crust foundations*) in the name of research.
After you eat pizza, do you eat dessert pizza? I've been seeing quite a few Nutella-and-pear pizza concoctions around town, and I have to say, I'm always tempted. Pizza dough is a pretty good base for a dessert—when it's done well.
Papa John's recently introduced a new specialty pizza, the Zesty Jalapeno and Meats Pizza (pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage, jalapeño peppers, and a blend of three cheeses—Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano). It caught our attention because it looked oddly familiar (but more on that—and some possible intrigue—after the jump).
Pizza chain Papa John's has offered online ordering since 2001. But Restaurantnews.com reports that John Schnatter, the founder of the company, had never tried it for himself. Until now, that is. He survived to tell the tale: When I started Papa John's 26 years ago, I never dreamed customers would one day be ordering pizza by computer...I decided that it was time to try it for myself, but I made sure I had an Internet expert on-hand: my [12-year-old] son Beau. It was easy." Welcome to the future, PJ! But I'm guessing there's an easier way for the founder of...
Note: I will add pictures to this later. I started writing and time slipped away from me. Right now I have to jump out the door and take the Serious Eats interns to Di Fara. It's Slice intern Aaron Mattis's last day, and it will be his farewell meal. —The Mgmt. First the pizzas were paraded before us so we could judge overall appearance. [Photographs: Adam Kuban] I don't know if you watch or read a lot of science fiction, but there's a term often used in the genre: planetside. It's when a space jockey lands his bird or an...
This photo appeared on Reddit, where a Papa John's employee explains what might have happened here....
With the prevalent pizza culture in New York City favoring pizza by the slice, even major chains have to adapt. It's perhaps the only place you'll see Papa John's selling single slices for 99¢.
UPDATE (2/11/2011): YES, Papa John's is making the heart-shape pizzas again this year. You know it's from PJ's because the little pepper is hanging out in the box. [Photographs: Robyn Lee] And there it is. Papa John's is once again offering its heart-shaped Valentine's Day pizza. When Slice ordered it online earlier this afternoon it was part of a special: $14.99 for a one-topping, thin-crust heart-shaped pizza and a Cinnapie (prices may vary in your area). Note that the heart-shaped pizza is only available with PJ's thin crust....
"There were definitely two winners, and two that would require a lot more beer-drinking." Clockwise from top left: Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's, Little Caesars. [Photographs: Robyn Lee] Since pizza is right up there with wings and guacamole as far as Super Bowl cuisine goes, we ordered pepperoni pizzas from the four big nationwide chains (Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Domino's) to find the tastiest. Why pepperoni? Because most people order pizza with at least one topping and pepperoni is the most popular one in the U.S....