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(My personal) Best chain pizza rankings

#1: Numero Uno (not enough locations)
Round Table " " "
Papa John

#2 Pizza Hut
Domino (Best sauce)

#3 Costco (too dry and bland)

#4 Little Caesar (terrible)

Still much prefer real Italian non-chain pizza.

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  1. Papa Murphys and only PMs. The DeLite version. Take and bake.

    7 Replies
      1. re: mucho gordo

        "1360 stores in 41 states and Canada."

        http://stores.papamurphys.com/?godesk...

        At one point they were one of the most successful franchises in the US. Don't know about now.

        1. re: c oliver

          I don't think I had ever heard of them before. I just checked where I lived in CA and there was none anywhere near me however, I did find one near me here in Vegas. I'll have to look into it.

      2. re: c oliver

        I have to say I'm shocked by all the Papa Murphy's love here. Not to just drop into the topic to be negative, but we found it inedible - I'd rather have a frozen Red Baron. We had three open in our town a couple years ago and none lasted more than a year. Does it vary from location to location?

        1. re: NonnieMuss

          They ARE a franchise so results can vary. We used to live in smallish town that had two. One was really not good, to the point that the last time we got one the tomato sauce soaked all the way through the crust. So we drove a couple more miles to the one that continues, years later, to turn out good ones. But that was the only place that was subpar.

          1. re: c oliver

            I've had good results with one specific pie I've ordered. I took another to my parents. They said it was so-so. Do not know if they followed cooking directions but they seem to be reasonable people.
            For me, I live 30 miles from where I work out in the country. Picking one up isn't a horribly bad deal. I also have a mom and pop store in the city that will par bake a pie for me knowing I don't get off until 11 after their kitchen is closed. That's very nice as well, but about 2-3 times the price.

            1. re: Firegoat

              We only get the De-Lite (or however they spell it) and like it a lot.

      3. Mucho, do any of the numerous restaurants in the magnificent resort in Summerlin where you live, now a JW Marriott, serve pizza? I had wonderful experiences there when it was Swiss-owned.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          There are some decent non-chain places around here but, unfortunately, Mrs G is content with the cheaper chains.

            1. re: mucho gordo

              Continue your perpetual training effort on Mr.G. Eventually he'll figure that saving a buck isn't worth eating cardboard, potentially frozen dough pizza, plus hell be helping a local business and owner of the pizza shop.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Oops, strategic gender error, very seldom the male is correct!

                  1. re: treb

                    So true, treb, although she does refer to me as "Mr. Right". Then adds that my 1st name is "Never".

          1. Not a pizza chain person but, if I had to choose:

            1. Bertucci's (MA)
            1a. Mozza, yes I consider this a chain
            2. California Pizza Kitchen
            3. Pizza Hut
            4. Pappa John's (better ingredients, really?)

            1 Reply
            1. re: treb

              Bertucci's has been down here in the DC area for over 20 years. Some locations have come and gone, but I think it's one of the better chains, not just pizza chains.

            2. I do like Papa Murphy's especially the meat stuffed pizza.
              After that in declining order of yum.
              Big Cheese
              Pizza Hut (only if it has beef bbq pizza - thin crust)
              Domino's (the new artisinal pan pizza or stuffed cheesy bread - and the delivery guys draw pictures in the boxes)
              Pizza Inn (bacon bit pizza)
              Casey's
              then the non edibles - Little Ceasar's (fake cheese, fake everything dough balls) Papa John's (horrid sauce)

              Of course I prefer the non-chain local joints, but this was a topic on chains.

              1. 1.) Papa Murphy's. Gourmet Vegetarian White Pizza
                2.) Pizza King Royal Feast

                1. I thought about posting this as a new post in the not about food thread. But then I thought, I'd be doing exactly what they asked me to do.

                  My query. .. why do people find it impossible to respond to the OP with anything close to what the OP asks for?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Firegoat

                    I thought you and the others responded appropriately.

                    1. re: Firegoat

                      An ongoing problem on CH. Ask for the best prepared food to buy and we all have a tendency to say "oh, it's so easy to make it."

                      1. re: Firegoat

                        I replied OT because: 1) Mucho and I are pretty good friends, 2) I am familiar with Summerlin where he moved to from LA, and 3) the resort I mentioned was ill-conceived when it was built, and cost the original owners $200 million in a bankruptcy, and the new operators can now afford to offer amazing affordable amenities to what is very much a local clientele at a fabulous place.
                        My apologies for taking my eye off the ball (it's a golf town).

                        1. re: Veggo

                          I would never go to a place like that for pizza, Veggo. There are plenty of stand-alone Italian restaurants from low end to high and everything in-between with out the hassle of going through a smoke-filled hotel.

                          1. re: mucho gordo

                            OK, mucho. You are indeed in the land of plenty.

                          1. re: Bob W

                            Providence Coal Fired Pizza has a "Rocket" pizza - margheritta with arugula & pecorino that is simply outstanding - right up their with a clam pizza from Pepe's.

                            Does that count?

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Just two locations (soon).

                                Does a dozen locations count as a Chain? If so, Flat Bread Pizza would be #1 in my book - http://www.flatbreadcompany.com

                                No kale nor arugula pizza, but they make up for them in other ways.

                                1. re: Clams047

                                  Ya gotta start somewhere to have a chain. One link at a time :)

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I've never heard of them and they aren't here in Vegas yet.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              That sounds great! Maybe they'll work their way north.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Well, don't get too excited.

                                It's just $8 pizza. From a chain.

                                But if you were going to ask for me list of top pizza chains, Pieology would definitely make the cut.

                              1. re: rasputina

                                I had Sammy's a few times, thankfully not on my dime, gag me awful.

                                1. re: treb

                                  Well you put Pizza Hut in your top five so I'm not surprised you wouldn't like Sammy's.

                                  1. re: rasputina

                                    Pizza Hut, as bad as it is, is far better than Sammy's. In fact, I'd take a frozen pizza from a super market before Sammy's garbage.

                                    1. re: treb

                                      Guess we will have to agree to disagree. I must prefer an actual wood fire cooked pizza than one cooked on a conveyer belt and a floppy crust.

                                      1. re: treb

                                        To quote my 33 yo nephew who trained on Wooster Street in New Haven:
                                        "There's pizza and there's Pizza Hut."

                                        1. re: treb

                                          I just did a quick "meta data" collection via Google on Pizza Hut vs Sammy's using Yelp as the driver and it was a clear win for Sammy's if one believes at all in the power of the poll.

                                  2. MOD pizza is pretty good chain for thin crust single price pies. Looks very much like Pieology who they sued. they are West coast only.

                                    1. Living in suburban New York City we are blessed with countless mom & pop pizza places so I rarely eat chain pizza. One that I did like was Pizzeria Uno, now I think called simply Uno. Sadly, the one location close to me has closed. I used to like their deep dish pie called “Spinoccoli”. Spinach, broccoli, chopped tomatoes and sausage (maybe I added the sausage). The crust was great, reminded me a little of brioche.

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: zackly

                                        Uno's was originally affiliated with Uno's in Chicago - the originator of Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Over the years it lost all resemblance to the original, which isn't conducive to a fast food treatment because the pizzas take about 45 minutes to bake

                                        1. re: ferret

                                          In fairness, Uno's was never fast food. It's a sit-down restaurant. I have been to the original in Chicago, and it's great, but the Boston locations were quite good and even when it came down here to the DC area it remained good, but I guess they decided that the concept was too narrow to compete in the Mall Restaurant space.

                                          1. re: Bob W

                                            OP isn't talking about fast food pizza, just chains.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Sbarro, Pizza Hut all the same to me.

                                              1. re: treb

                                                I remember when the town where I went to undergrad put in a new mall and they had a sbarros! It was a big deal at the time. If I'm trapped in a food court I might have a slice.

                                          2. re: ferret

                                            Pizzeria Uno's and their sister restaurant, Pizzeria Due's, both on the near north side of Chicago, are a totally different animal than the chain of Uno's around the country. Don't get me wrong--I like the Uno's chain around the country. But it doesn't hold a candle to the pizzas made at the original Chicago locations.

                                            As Ferret pointed out, the original locations warn that it will take a minimum of 45 minutes to cook your pizza, due to the crust that they use. At the Uno's chain store in Orlando, I asked how long it would take to cook my pizza and they said 15 minutes. And the chain store Uno's don't taste as good, but they are still good.

                                          3. re: zackly

                                            Uno was good way way back in the day. I actually did some legal work for them when I was a law-talking guy up in Boston. They expanded down here to the DC area and the pizza held up pretty well, but when the lopped the Pizzeria off the name, that pretty much ended things for me. They might still be in the area, but I haven't been to one in years.

                                            1. re: Bob W

                                              Might they, in any way, be connected to a small CA chain "Numero Uno"?

                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                Doesn't appear to be. The website references the original location in California in 1973.

                                              2. re: Bob W

                                                There's a few left in the DC suburbs. They're Uno Chicago Grill now, but I have no interest in eating there either. We used to go to the Uno's in Georgetown, until their pies went all to hell. The last straw was when we went to the one in Cleveland Park and I ordered an artichoke spinach pie and whoever assembled it basically dumped the can of vinegar brine into the pie. It basically tasted like a pickled spinach pizza.

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                  It's in no way similar to the original. It's very similar to the frozen product they put out, which is not especially good.

                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                    Well, at least they've admitted their pizza sucks and they're trying to sell anything else to get the flavor of the horrible pizza out of your mouth: pasta, grilled chicken caesars, sliders, etc. Basically everything you'd find at Fridays/Ruby Tuesdays along with inedible pizza.

                                                    http://www.unos.com/menus/

                                            2. I think I'd have to put Mellow Mushroom at the top of my chain pizza list.

                                              I will eat Papa John's but only when my SIL/BIL buy it. And only to keep the peace. I don't want to get into a political debate AT ALL about this but I abhor their business practice and John Schnatter. Otherwise it's pretty good.

                                              DT

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                I've heard great things about Mellow Mushroom. I've never been as here has never been one nearby.

                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  Great?? No. Well above average and quite serviceable?? Yes.
                                                  Good beer selection too so they say.

                                                  DT

                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    Had my first visit to Mellow Mushroom several weeks ago. Quite good. What caught my attention was that that they were cooking their pizza's in an oven - not a conveyor system as most chains do. Definitely far better than any of the original chains in this thread.

                                                    I've recently come to the conclusion that conveyor ovens are the common denominator of poor pizza. Not so sure if it's the source itself that consistently results in poor pizza or if those using conveyors skimp on ingredients as well. Nevertheless, can't say I've ever had an edible pizza off a conveyor oven.

                                                    1. re: Clams047

                                                      I think it's the latter. The place near us we usually order from makes a good pie. They use a conveyor. There are a few large chains around here that use them too and I can't eat them. They're that bad.

                                                      DT

                                                  2. re: Davwud

                                                    Agreed, Mellow Mushroom is good and good subs as well. As for Papa John's, You are totally correct. John is a dick.

                                                  3. To be honest I will eat and enjoy any type of pizza from any pizza joint.
                                                    But my absolute least favorite of all time is LaRosa's (Cincinnati based). Sickly sweet sauce. Yuck.
                                                    Just looked up Papa Murphy locations and it appears I have one about 20 minutes away! Will give it a try and report back.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: OhioHound

                                                      It's one of our go-to dinners when we want something tasty but don't want to cook or go out to eat.

                                                      1. re: OhioHound

                                                        I enjoy LaRosa's sauce and pizzas but never dug their crust.

                                                      2. Bertucci's (Northeast Chain)
                                                        Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza

                                                        Neither are as good as a typical Philly pizzaria, but they don't offend.

                                                        PapaJohn's...Domino...Little Ceasar...Pizza Hut? just say "no"

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: sal_acid

                                                          Agreed, forgot about these two. Both are very good!

                                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                                            If you haven't had a Domino's pizza in the past year, I encourage you to give it a shot.

                                                            It's not "coal fired" but for fast-delivery large-chain pizza, it's better than a lot of local family-owned spots around here.

                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                              I liked the broccoli lemon pepper pie at Bertucci's a long time ago. Can't think of any in the NYC-area, and fortunately, don't need to.

                                                              Also, I used to frequently order the Sante Fe pizza at CPK in Jakarta, until I learned of a better "local" Italian place called Trattoria.

                                                              Jonathan
                                                              http://buildingmybento.com

                                                            2. #1 California Pizza

                                                              #2 Anybody offering a coupon and has anchovies.

                                                              Like many here on Chowhound, I have a local favorite. It gives a wonderful rendition of a New York style slice.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                CA Pizza was too overpriced and trendy for my taste.

                                                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                  Agreed. When CA Pizza opened in Cherry Creek (Denver) it was the ultimate meet market and wine bar. The pizza was almost irrelevant.

                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                    A CA Pizza opened in DC years ago, and we went in to see what the hype was about. Plain old pizza with a zillion strange toppings. I remember watching a woman leave with some leftovers and offer it to the homeless person outside. Either the guy suffered from schizophrenia or he really hated the pizza because he ended up taking a bite, throwing it on the sidewalk, and screaming at it. A couple years later, the CA Pizza folded and became a small plate Italian place. I'm pretty sure the homeless guy is still panhandling out front.

                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                      CPK was good at one time (early-mid 1990's). It's fallen off considerably since then.

                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                        We used to like CPK a lot but it seemed to get more and more expensive without getting any better. Haven't been in years.

                                                                2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                  Is CA Pizza the same as CA Pizza Kitchen? Their frozen pizza isn't bad. Rather pricey but not bad. And, yeah, re the coupon.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    Sorry about that. Yes, the same. I have to drive 90 minutes to a mall on PGA Blvd. Happens rarely.

                                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                      I will drive that far for certain foods but not for chain pizza!

                                                                3. If you ever find yourself in Oklahoma, there is a very small regional chain called Hideaway Pizza located in Stillwater, and many locations in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It is definitely worth a visit.
                                                                  http://www.hideawaypizza.com/location...

                                                                  1. Mucho>>>>>
                                                                    for you and Veggo, now that Pepe's has 6 locations in two states it can be considered a chain...............
                                                                    I know Veggo loves his white clam apizza

                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                      I know I would love a clam pie as soon as I can find a place that will make one. Are clam pies fairly new or were they making them back in the 50's?

                                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                        Pepe's on Wooster St. has been making clam pies since 1925. That's before my time, so I called and asked.

                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                          I led a very sheltered life, Veggo. I never knew that. Friends of mine who lived on Wooster, near Pepe's, never said a word. Back then, that was an area I would not venture into alone.

                                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                            Mucho, that area of New Haven has experienced a Renaissance since you moved away, and is now quite attractive and safe.

                                                                        2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                          I think seafood on pizza is just plain wrong but that's a topic for another thread probably :)

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            A bit of Bonito flakes on a Margherita is mighty fine. Mighty fine.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              Now THAT sounds rather tasty. I'm thinking more like shrimp, clams, etc.

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                Shrimp on pizza is common in coastal areas of Mexico. I don't see what's not to like about it, unless one doesn't like shrimp or pizza.

                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                If apizza with fresh shucked Rhode Island clams, olive oil, and copious garlic is wrong, I don't want to be right....

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Except for clams, I'm in full agreement. Then again, I don't understand ham, pineapple, chicken and a number of other items as well.

                                                                                  1. re: Clams047

                                                                                    I'm curious, why? Most of the California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas have chicken, because it's cheap. Ham or pepperoni, plus pineapple and jalapenos, is probably the most popular variety of pizza in Mexico. Shrimp cost a few more pesos.

                                                                                    1. re: Clams047

                                                                                      Ugh to the Hawaiian with pineapple being the worst offender. And the other things you mention.

                                                                                      1. re: Clams047

                                                                                        There's not much to understand: all of them can be terrific on pizza when done right.

                                                                                        The only commonly-seen pizza topping I've never understood is unseasoned, flavorless ground beef. Gray tasteless crumbles of meat don't add anything to a pizza. Chicken or seafood might not be your personal thing, but you can't disagree that they're flavorful additions that some people really enjoy.

                                                                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                          What I like about the ground beef topping is that it, along with onion, bacon and the cheese, makes it a "cheeseburger" pizza.

                                                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                            Yeah, to be clear, I've had tasty ground beef on pizza, and tasty 'cheeseburger' pizzas. Ground beef CAN be good.

                                                                                            But when it's literally just unseasoned ground beef that's grey, dry, and tasteless, it may as well be soy granules or rabbit chow for as much flavor as it adds.

                                                                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                              I never noticed that. My thinking was that the unseasoned beef crumbles would mix with the bacon/onion flavors and sauce seasonings.

                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                        "That's just wrong" paraphrased as "just plain wrong" is a figure of speech in case anyone doesn't know.

                                                                                  2. I want to quote the NY Times before everyone starts yelling: "Patsy's Pizzerias are turning up all over town, as this chain continues to expand..." So, according to the NY Times, Patsy's is a chain. So, I have to go with Patsy's!

                                                                                    1. Round Table ran a 50% off special on Black Friday. Hadn't had one (King Arthur's Special) in years and was surprised at how good it was.

                                                                                      1. Personally don't care for Uno or Round Table, except when the latter has lunch buffet. Think Papa Murphy edges Papa Johns a bit, for me. Yeah, Little Caesars is pretty bad, except when you're jonesing for the $5 immediately out the door thing. Winco Groceries (west coast) have a pizza counter that is pretty good, whole pie or slice. Pizza Hut is awful IMHO.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: cajungwailo

                                                                                          I have a friend that eats Little Caesars with her husband religiously every Friday. I commented on how many better choices there were in town (especially on Friday when more of the little mom and pops were open). She didn't appreciate my comment.
                                                                                          So... there is something for everyone!

                                                                                            1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                              We don't get Costco (by the slice) anymore cause it was just so greasy. We'd put paper napkins on it to soak some up. Flavor was good though.

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Really??? Costco was greasy? I've found them to be rather dry and bland but then, I'm talking about taking out a whole pizza, not just a slice that's been sitting under the warming lights.

                                                                                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                  We've never bought one to take home. And I haven't had a slice in probably a couple of years (the Polish with a drink is the retiree's special!) so maybe it's better now.

                                                                                          1. I'm hardly a Chicago pizza expert, but Lou Malnati's certainly qualifies as a chain, albeit one in Chicagoland only, and, based on my one Lou Malnati's pizza (North Wells Street location, 2010) it blows the rest of this garbage out of the water.

                                                                                            http://www.loumalnatis.com/Locations/

                                                                                            1. Oh, if we're adding small regionals, then Vito and Nicks II in Chicago for thin crust! http://www.vitoandnicksii.com/ And Sammy's in Minnesota. http://mysammys.com/

                                                                                              1. Treb: I don't think we're talking about the same Sammys? Duluth, MN, Iron Range, North Dakota? Never met ANYone who didn't think they were the greatest!

                                                                                                1. Brixx!! But pizza is like sex to me. Even when it sucks, it's still not that bad.

                                                                                                  1. I don';t know if anyone else has shared my experiences with the national pizza chains, but my problem has been a horror! Examples:

                                                                                                    Years ago, I swore never ever to eat at Dominio's again because their pizza doug was thinner than a soda cracker and tasted just like a soda cracker dipped in a jar of ready-made spaghetti sauce! But I ordered from then two days ago after getting a coupon in an ad, and it's really good now, AND they also now offer subs or sandwiches or whatever you want to call them. I got a Philly chees steak that was really good.

                                                                                                    WIth BOTH Pizza Hu *AND( Little Caersar's, they changed their dough recipe -- Pizza Hut about four or so years ago, and Little Caesar's about two years ago, and now they are awful!

                                                                                                    Waaaaaay back in the 1980's, my son was an elite competitive cyclist, and a local USCF bike club in Las Cruces had weekly practice races for all of the cyclists in the area. The bike shop owner who held the races got Little Caesar's Pizza to donate free pizzas to the winners, one for each style and category of race. Sooooo... EVERY Tuesday, for at least a year, my son won six or eight pizzas every Tuesday, and invited everyone to come share in the parking lot!

                                                                                                    Back in those days, ALL single pizza orders came in a very long box that contained TWO pizzas! And for those not old enough to know, that's why "Little Caesar" in the logo is always saying, "Pizza! Pizza!" Because you always got two! AND they had an absolutely GREAT "brick oven" flavor and smokiness to them that was irresistible.

                                                                                                    In time, my son moved up in the cycling world, and didn't go to the club races anymore, and years passed when I never touched a Little Caesar's pizza. When I moved here to the Dallas area eight years ago, SURPRISE! Little Caesar's Pizza! So on a whim, I picked one up.... annnnnddddd.... it was JUST one, NOT two! But the flavor was the same, and the first bite was a glorious mouthful of nostalgia! UNTIL they changed their dough recipe about two years ago. I have NO IDEA whether they were ever the same all over the country, but that change in recipe at my local LC here in the Dallas area sure changed the entire flavor profile of their product!

                                                                                                    And my experience is fairly parallel with Pizza Hut. I was a fan of their pan pizza for decades, then when I ordered one delivered about four years ago, it tasted like uncooked dough! Because Pizza Hut has a BIG customer satisfaction guarantee, I sent it back! Well, I didn't really send it back. I called and complained, and the manager apologized and told his crew to bake and send me another! And then he called me to tell me it was on its way and that he had personally supervised it and inspected it, and that it WAS cooked properly, and enjoy! It was the SAME doughy, flour flavored crust of the first one! So I asked what was going on.... They changed their dough recipe!!!

                                                                                                    I think quality control AND following the same recipe exactly the same way "keeping the customer satisfied" (to borrow a line from Paul Simon) is the key to good pizza, and I'm not sure that is possible when a "restaurant" has god knows how many kitchens all over the world!

                                                                                                    Maybe some day the world will be perfect again.... '-)

                                                                                                    1. I see that Pizza My Heart didn't make your list. Haven't made it's way to S. CA yet.

                                                                                                      1. Handn't tried Pizza Hut in over a decade. Some friends ordered a couple pies for a kid's party. The crust tasted like a sponge that had been soaking in rancid butter. The kids loved it.