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What would you say is your favorite Pizza chain?

There's quite a few Pizza chains out there & I'm pretty sure that just about everyone here has at least one or two that they prefer over most of the other ones, right? What is your favorite Pizza chain & converse about it if you'd like to too. Some examples are Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Little Caesar's, Zeppe's, E.C.'s & quite a few more.

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    1. re: Clams047

      American Flatbread
      Pepe's
      Bertucci's

      All are at least 2 hours away from me :(

    2. Ledos. Most of the stores are hit-or-miss and even the original shop has issues, but the one near me is decent.

      http://ledopizza.com/

      Bertucci's does a decent pizza. Nothing special, but leagues better than the soggy, butter sponges Pizza Hut peddles.

      I've got a soft spot for Shakey's but I have to admit, I haven't been to one in ages.

      6 Replies
      1. re: monkeyrotica

        I like Ledo's and think the Wheaton branch is the best.

        1. re: monkeyrotica

          never liked ledo's, not during my days at maryland nor today. the sauce is way too sweet for me, like tomato-flavored candy.

          my "everyday" pizza is pizzaboli's. if i'm going to be eating at the restaurant, it's bertucci's.

          1. re: Vidute

            I used to hate Ledos, too, when I was at U of M for the same reason. Sauce was too damn sweet. Problem was, I was ordering it plain with no toppings. If you order it with meat (particularly the huge pepperoni slices) or sausage or the Deluxe (w. anchovies), the salty toppings compensate for the overly sweet sauce. And I always hated cold pizza until I discovered you can squish two cold squares of Ledos Deluxe together to make a cold pizza "sandwich."

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              next time i'm forced to have ledo's, i'll send my portion to you! :)

          2. re: monkeyrotica

            I can't see a mention of Ledo's without hearing Jon Miller saying "Ledo's pizzas are square because they never cut corners!"

            The Orioles should never have let Miller get away...

            1. re: brandywiner

              I agree with all of what you wrote. All of it. A lot. Special place in my heart for Ledo's.

          3. There is a small chain here in the GTA named Reginos. it aint great but I like it pretty good and their prices are pretty agreeable.

            For a big, national chain I was very pleasantly surprised by Mellow Mushroom. Well above aveage pizza.

            DT

            1. All the chains you name might be OK in the Midwest, but in the Northeast they are viewed with suspicion (yet somehow they make money). Bertucci's is OK aand Anthony's Coal-Fired is OK. But neither is up to a good local pizza from NYC or Philly

              9 Replies
              1. re: sal_acid

                Or Naples Italy for that matter, but not everyone lives in Italy, so we have to make do.

                Maybe this thread should be "What chain pizza is the least lousy?"

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  Good point, but the alternative to chain isn't "no pizza". There are local joints everywhere (almost everywhere anyway) that beat the chains handily.

                  What is it about a chain that instantly loses the skill required to make a pizza? Is it a profit margin issue?

                  1. re: sal_acid

                    My son manages a chain franchise. He told us that his store can turn out a large, with one topping for 45 cents!

                    1. re: sal_acid

                      I've had some pretty lousy pies at mom & pop joints as well. Not as many as from the chains, but I understand folks who want to opt for a known mediocre quantity rather than risk disappointment from something small and local.

                      I'd like to think it was just profit margin, but I'm inclined to think it's management. Popeyes and Five Guys are two chains where a good manager makes the difference between fresh, hot food and stale, soggy, skunky food. As for profits, there's a Taco Bell thread comparing '80s Taco Bell (fresh beef cooked in house, hand shredded vegetables, etc) vs today (precooked Sysco blended meat, dehydrated beans, etc). So yeah, quality of ingredients is an issue, but not the only one.

                      1. re: sal_acid

                        "What is it about a chain that instantly loses the skill required to make a pizza? Is it a profit margin issue?"

                        IMO, it's the oven vs. conveyor.

                        Chains with ovens can be respectable to excellent (Burtucci's, Mellow Mushroom, Flatbread, Pepe's, etc) but I've never had a decent pizza off a conveyor.

                        Not so sure it's exactly the conveyor, but those who use them really know how to make a lousy product. They probably figure if they can cut costs using a conveyor, they can also shave costs using inferior ingredients.

                        1. re: Clams047

                          Used to work in Dominos in the early '90s and, yeah, they used conveyers and the pies were weak. Gave their new pies a try and, while not as good as a real gas/wood/coal oven, it was a major improvement. Crispy (not doughy) crust, sauce that didn't taste like Karo syrup. So you can improve on a conveyer pie with better ingredients and technique. Not a damn thing you can do with those Pizza Hut pies that taste like someone used a butter-soaked sponge to clean up candy store vomit.

                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                            Even an "improved" Domino's is still not all that good. I've gave Domino's several chances (& still eat it if someone else purchases it), but it's amongst the worst "popular" Pizzas in my opinion.

                            1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                              Agreed. It's still not good, but compared to Pizza Hut's Death by Butter and HFCS pies and CiCi's all-you-eat frozen convenience store pies, it probably won't make you vomit.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      lol I was thinking didn't we just go down this road less than a month ago

                    2. I'm a huge fan of Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, not just for their pizza, but also for their excellent oven-roasted spareribs.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                        I've got to agree with Anthony's. I try to make it a point to try different pizza places anytime I'm in NY, Boston, or any other North East city's. Anthony's is the only chain I've ever found that comes close or exceeds the quality of those local spots. They use a 900 degree coal fired oven which cooks the pies in about 90 seconds, with a bit of burn on a crisp crust.

                        http://burghfeeding.blogspot.com/

                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                          Never had the ribs.. but the oven roasted wings are pretty good.

                        2. There's a chain called Pagliacci with several branches in Seattle. It's nothing special if you get it delivered, but the slices are good if you go eat them at the shop. Good crunchy, chewy crust, foldable, good quality toppings. A lot of people complain about it, but I suspect they only ever have it as delivery.

                          1. Fox's pizza den is the best local pizza joint. I don't order their pies but they have better than average subs.

                            1. i have limited mobility(wheelchair) so today,went to the bank and decided smash burger was too much-so i went to pizza smut (both were right by the bank-so only had to get the chair out once).went into pizza smut and decided i couldn't stomach them , even with the convenience- got back in the car and used my nathan's coupons-a couple of miles down the road. just can't understand chain pizza in the ny area except as stated either bertucci or anthony's

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: 51rich

                                I do prefer the Thin Crust style(s) more often than not, yet not always.

                              2. None of the ones you mention in your original post are even edible, as far as I'm concerned.

                                If push comes to shove, Bertucci's I suppose.

                                1. Mazzio's has a pretty good salad bar.

                                  1. I'm in Ontario, Canada and and Pizza Nova is my favourite for chains. Just had thier baked panzerotti earlier. Usually get the pizza, but decided to switch today. They offer sautéed spinach as a toppi g and it is sooooo yummy. It's sautéed with real garlic and I think butter.

                                    1. Do PizzaRev or Pieology count? They are thin and and you can choose your toppings. I usually share one.

                                      1. I'm in NJ, so no chain pizza really counts as the real thing. So, with that thought in mind, I pick Domino's. I like the taste of their "bread with sauce and cheese topping" better than that offered by the other chains. It's not pizza in my mind, just something decent to eat...

                                        1. I had not had a dominos pizza in 30 years until last night. I was working late (alone) in my office and ordered it online to be delivered (very cool process, BTW). You can track it online, so I would know within minutes of when the delivery kid would be in at my door. Nice feature at night with a locked door.

                                          I ordered a thin crusted, square, feta and spinach pizza with a white sauce. It was excellent. Really great crust, thin with the right amount of chew (a bit too oily) nice texture and flavor. The spinach leaves were cooked perfectly, with just a bit of toasty edges...which is difficult to get right. The sauce was not distinguishable which was fine on this kind of pizza. I was very, very impressed!

                                          Honestly, I was stressed and wanted a big, chewy, junk food gut bomb of cheesy, gooey, greasy pizza of my youth from dominos...but I got a nice quality pizza instead :) it was great. I will absolutely order from them again at work.

                                          I like most kinds and styles of pizza, but I don't eat at pizza chains much. I have my own commercial pizza oven at home in my outdoor kitchen so I tend to eat pizza at home much of the time. I do enjoy at junk food take out pizza or a deep dish pizza sometimes because I don't make those at home.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: sedimental

                                            I really like your post, you were expecting and almost hoping for a gutbomb and got something much more refined, hardly anybody would admit that on Chowhound, especially with a Domino's pizza. You rock.

                                          2. NYPD in Shenzhen, China, although I didn't mind the Japanese Shakey's either.

                                            In the US, I guess Papa John's (heh, there's a Papa Ron's in Indonesia), but the Chinese Papa John's was terrible.

                                            Pepe's is good too, but I can't see how they're in the same (lesser) league as the above-mentioned places.

                                            Jonathan
                                            http://buildingmybento.wordpress.com
                                            http://collaterallettuce.wordpress.com

                                            1. I'll say it. Pizza Hut. Yep. I only order it about 2 or 3 times a year, and always the same thing--1 med pan pizza, light cheese and extra sauce. 22 piece mild bone-out buffalo wings with extra sauce. I usually finish all of it in about 24 hours (making repeat trips from the fridge to the microwave.) I spend the next week or so detoxing from all the sodium and fat I just consumed. I only do this when I am severly hung over.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: schrutefarms

                                                Yeah I won't even pretend not to like Pizza Hut. That place just reminds me of being a kid. Sitting in a dimly lit booth in a Pizza Hut with my family and seeing a bubbling supreme pizza come to the table in a cast iron pan is one of my oldest pizza memories. Time marches on and they are replacing more and more of those old school eat-in Huts with express takeout only places.. a real shame. The super greasy fried pan crust is hard to beat for an artery-clogging delight

                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                  Feel the same way about Shakeys. I'm just glad there are none near me. I think the memories are better than the food itself, which is true for a lot of things.

                                              2. Domino's. I might be able to answer differently if I had more choices but I live in a small town.

                                                1. Jules thin crust. Small chain in philadelphia suburbs that I believe also has 1 left coast outlet. www.julesthincrust.com. Closer to a flatbread, top notch ingredients, and good flavor.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                                    I don't think Jules qualifies. For one, it actually tastes good (please make this thread stop). And it only has 7 locations, and according to Wikipedia you need 10 to be a "chain".

                                                    I kid you not.

                                                  2. I would have to say Papa Gino's for New England..

                                                    1. I'm a huge fan of Pizza My Heart. I love their thin, crispy, cracker-like crust!

                                                      1. For me, it's hands down Mellow Mushroom. They're not any specific regional style, they do their own thing. It's a medium thickness fresh crust, great quality cheese. Lots of specialty pies and sauce and topping options for build your own.
                                                        There are started in Atlanta and have spread through most of the southeast. Random western outposts in Portland, Denver and Phoenix.
                                                        http://mellowmushroom.com/

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                          I've been to two Mellow Mushroom locations (Charlottesville, VA & Greensboro, NC) and been quite happy both times. Tasty (if nontraditional) pizzas, many varieties, and a good craft beer selection. Plus, I like the late 60's-early 70's vibe. I wouldn't mind if they made it up to PA at some point.

                                                          Actually, I may be in Richmond in a few weeks, and they've got one in Carytown...

                                                        2. Does two stores in the same city count as a chain? If so, Papa Dels in Champaign, Illinois. In fact, my favorite pizza ever. (Available by mail order, *made to order*, but shipping costs are insane.) papadels.com

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: mwhitmore

                                                            Wow! Haven't thought of Papa Del's in years! Fond memories from my days in grad school at U of I (79-84).

                                                            In all honesty, Papa Del's was more of a "special occasion" pizza for me at the time. My day-to-day pizza fix was Garcia's. (When I was back in C-U a few years ago, I stopped at Garcia's and found in almost inedible!)