Papa John’s: Best Nationwide Pizza

Papa John’s International Inc. received the top rating among national pizza delivery and take-out chains in the Restaurants & Institutions’ Consumers’ Choice in Chains Survey. The survey rated national pizza chains on ” food quality, service, convenience, cleanliness, value, atmosphere, menu variety and reputation.” The competition? Pizza Hut scored highest in the “atmosphere” category, but lost to Papa John’s in everything else.

Atmosphere? Seriously? —MEGHANN MARCO

Papa John’s gets consumer satisfaction honor [Louisville Buisness First]


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  1. They’re definately best for the “box contains tasty little peppers” group.

  2. The Pizza Huts back in my hometown do a much better job in the chesse department but Papa John’s wings are WAY better than the Wingstreet ones (which are inconsistent).

  3. Pelagius says:

    Well, their garlic sauce helps me create a little “atmosphere” of my own at home, every time I eat it.

  4. kerry says:

    Papa John’s has always been my preferred brand among pizza chains. The food is way better than Dominoes or Pizza Hut, and consistent enough that you know what you’re going to get regardless of which operation you order from. It’s a nice, safe bet when you’re in a motel in some unfamiliar part of the country.
    That said, I’m still seething that all of the Papa John’s restaurants in Chicago are gone thanks to a rift between the franchise and the guy who owned our local stores. They were “Papa Tony’s” for a while, then quickly went out of business. I miss that garlic sauce, dammit!
    (And, no, suburban stores don’t deliver to the city, so that’s not an option.)

  5. William Mize says:

    As I am a lazy bachelor, nothing gives me greater pleasure than going to Papa John’s website, and, with a few clicks having a contributing factor to my future heart attack delivered to my door within the hour.
    They’ve always had great service, great pizza, and when they screw up, they really go above and beyond to make it right.

  6. mfergel says:

    Pizza Hut sucks. It’s like eating ketchup on cardboard. Their food has no flavor. I used to really like Little Caesars when I worked there, but at some point they changed their ingrediants and now their pizza has little to no flavor as well. As others mentioned, Papa Johns is consistant. Plus, I love the peppers, garlic sauce and those little spice packets when you order thin crust.

  7. Lesley says:

    I think Papa John’s must lace their sauce with crack. I can eat two entire cheese pizzas with no problem (I know this because they often have 2-for-1 specials) and I’m a small person. It’s soooo good.

    Based on what Kerry said, I’ve determined Chicago must be hell. No Papa John’s and just “Chicago-style” available? Yuck.

  8. Jon R. says:

    Papa John’s may be a step above Pizza Hut, but that’s like saying toxic waste is a step above radioactive toxic waste. I tried their pizza a couple of times and it always seemed to have an aroma of burnt plastic, and the skimp on the cheese. Why order from a chain like this when, in most areas of the country, there are real pizza restaurants with excellent pizza?

  9. georget99 says:

    I wonder if my local PJ lost the recipe. I tried their pizza recently for the first time and it was truly tasteless. I asked a couple friends if they had ever tried it and they said the same. The best chain pizza around here is Pa Pa Gino’s.

  10. Magister says:

    Little Caesars wins with my family because I can pull up to the drive thru and pick up a large Pepperonni for $5 that is ready right then. And it doesn’t taste bad, heck it is pretty good for $5.

  11. Papa John’s best pizza? Please.

    I can see it now: “This survey brought to you by the Papa Johns Pizza corporation”

    Just don’t hold that Pizza hang vertically because you’re gonna lose the entire thing. At least then you get a free drink out of the deal.

  12. Savage says:

    Pizza, Pizza – Little Caesars $5 – Hot & ready
    For when you forget to put something out for dinner. :) Yum!

  13. Papa John’s is easily the king in terms of quality and flavor — among the three major pizza joints.

    Donato’s beats them all hands-down for variety of toppings and quality of pie, but (sadly) its stores are not nearly as common.

  14. and the skimp on the cheese

    So it’s not just the ones where I live?

    Man, I hate it when they are stingy with the cheese, especially when I tried ordering extra cheese to make up for it. Both the Papa Johns and Pizza Huts where I live do that.

    There is, however, an excellent restaurant downtown who’s vegetable pizza is the best I’ve ever had (freshest toppings ever).

  15. MeOhMy says:

    Definitely the best of the fast-food pizza chains. And you can order online, which I love.

    Of course those of us that live in an area with real pizza only use chain pizza when you want that special brand of slop that only chain pizza can provide ;-) Most of the time call the guy who answers the phone in broken English. “Bongiorno…I take-a you order?”

  16. WindowSeat says:

    Say no to franchise pizza!

  17. etinterrapax says:

    I like Papa John’s, but it is only chain pizza. Since the survey was for best chain, they already knew they were cutting out the good stuff.

    We have Papa Gino’s all over the place, and it baffles me how they stay in business. Every pizza I’ve ever had from there was soggy on the bottom.

  18. MattyMatt says:

    Regarding Pizza Hut’s atmosphere:

    When I was between 5 and 10 years old, as far as I was concerned, Pizza Hut was the height of sophistication. No Burger King or McDonalds, it had fake-tiffany-lamps, good arcade games, and red plastic frosted cups. I couldn’t imagine a classier joint.

    So there you have it: the survey must’ve been conducted by five-year-olds.

  19. spanishmack says:

    I would agree that of the pizza choices in my neighborhood, their pizza is definitely tops. However, their online ordering system does not communicate at all well with the actual stores.

    I had been ordering pizza online for almost a year, with absolutely not a single hitch. Then, one time, my pizza is way overdue. So I call the local store, and am told that the order was being sent to the wrong store all this time and they were not going to deliver to me any, that I needed to order from store X. OK. Fine. But I have to call first to find this out. OK. So, I call store X up and the folks there were really nice and I had my pizza in a timely fashion from that point.

    Now, I go to order my next pizza online and attempt to fix my account to send orders to store x. After about 20 minutes of trying to figure out how to change this, I realize, that there is NO way to change the store your order goes too. The site picks it automatically based on your address. OK. Now I’m miffed. I relayed this information to their customer support and nary a word since.

    Based on the teachings I’ve gleaned from the Consumerist so far, I know I could follow more avenues on this, but, it’s just pizza for Pete’s sake. So, I switched to Dominos.

    (Note: Online ordering much be a trying ordeal for pizza places, at least in my neck of the woods. Dominos recently launched online ordering, and their site tells me that the store location I have ordered from for over 5 years does not have delivery available.)

  20. mfergel says:

    I actually eat at Apollo’s the majority of the time. I believe that is a chain as well (although a small one). I do love Papa John’s online ordering. I can’t even remember the last time I used the phone to call them and place an order.

    As for stingy cheese, when I worked at Little Caesars, we had small cups to measure the cheese…..a different cup for each size pizza. I’d be surprised if Papa John’s doesn’t do the same thing.

  21. alicetheowl says:

    I suspect my pizza-eating experience is far different as a supertaster than previous commenter’s. What you all call tasty I call masking crappy pizza with way too many spices. A little bit goes a long way, as it were.

    I, too, am addicted to the crack-laced garlic dipping sauce. I always order extra when I order takeout from them. Then I cross my fingers that the high schoolers behind the counter actually READ my order before putting it together.

  22. MeOhMy says:

    “So there you have it: the survey must’ve been conducted by five-year-olds.”

    Also: I have never seen a Papa John’s or a Domino’s with an actual dining room. Even a table or two to sit at is rare. Pizza Hut pretty much wins by default in that regard!

  23. MrEleganza says:

    We need to have more posts and thread about stuff like this. I love how definitevely everyone responds to perhaps the single most subjective topic out there (taste).

    If I were voting, I’d put Pizza Hut first (their Pan crust is the only pizza crust I don’t leave on the plate, they are more generous with toppings, tasty, etc). Papa John’s would be second. Domino’s is so mediocre and bland that it’s proof that quality is second to business savvy when establishing a national franchise.

    Maybe I need to move somewhere (NY, Chicago), “known” for it’s pizza, because in my experience, it’s the neighborhood pizza places that are underwhelming and lacking in quality more than chains.

  24. OnoSideboard says:

    I once heard someone brilliantly refer to Papa John’s pizza as merely a vehicle for transporting the garlic sauce to mouth.

    Also, I find the whole idea of online pizza ordering hilarious. Now all you need is a robot to answer the door and you’ll never have to interact with other humans again!

  25. misskaz says:

    I can’t believe that someone would live in Chicago and eat (or want to eat) Papa John’s. *shudder* There are so many places to get pizza. If you must have online ordering, try Chicago’s Pizza.

    And I’m not just talking about Chicago-style deep dish – every pizza place also has a thin crust version.

  26. Smoking Pope says:

    Pizza Hut is vile, and disgusting, and epitomizes all that is wrong with chain pizza. They also kept me alive in college.

    A roommate of mine worked there, and they’d get to take home any undeliverable pizzas. So we’d call in huge orders from pay phones to non-existent addresses. At 1:30 AM, it’s pizza time! Kept me from starving since I spent all my money on beer.

  27. Chairman-Meow says:

    Thank god I have a Bertucci’s nearby for my chain pizza fix. Plus they have fresh hot rolls all the time…..*slobber*

    OTOH we also have 50 bizillion local shops plus “bar-pizza” nearby so a really good pie that actually tastes good is just around the block.

  28. fishfucerk says:

    Maybe I need to move somewhere (NY, Chicago), “known” for it’s pizza, because in my experience, it’s the neighborhood pizza places that are underwhelming and lacking in quality more than chains.

    maybe, or maybe you’re patronizing the ultra-slummy “PIZZA BY THE SLICE” places. Most towns have places that make a good pizza, but they come from, you know, restaurants.

    I’m willing to bet there’s a bar and grill type place in your town has good pizza.

    fwiw, the only time we buy pizza from a chain-type place ( man for us) is when A) we’re lazy and want it delivered or B) it’s after 10pm (mpm delivers until 3am). if it’s not sundays and it’s a reasonable hour, it’s arizmendi’s all the way.

  29. madderhatter says:

    Papa Johns, Better Ingredients – Suck-Ass Customer Service. I’ve written in here about the bad experience I had to no avail. Even their customer service department won’t reply and I wrote them four times asking for proof that I bounced a check with them (while I had proof they cashed it in hand). This all stems from an order I placed and got a call back saying they could no longer accept a check from me. Funny that happened just after I had used a “free pizza coupon”. Pizza Hut for me.

  30. bopo says:

    I will second the Chicago’s Pizza recommendation, but it’s hard to top the pepperoni and garlic pizza at Pequod’s. Mmmm burny crust.

  31. MeOhMy says:

    “…ultra-slummy “PIZZA BY THE SLICE” places…”
    The best pizzas, hoagies, cheesesteaks and burgers usually come from the seediest places!

  32. kerry says:

    misskaz said:

    And I’m not just talking about Chicago-style deep dish – every pizza place also has a thin crust version.

    See, that’s the problem. I like deep dish sometimes, I like thin crust sometimes, and I like the authentic stuff most often. But it’s damn near impossible to get hand-tossed pizza in Chicago, your only choices are the big national chains. When Papa John’s left, the best hand-tossed went with it. To be totally frank, Chicago-style thin crust is f*cking terrible compared the D.O.C. Italian stuff, and deep dish is too much food.
    Oh, and I hate places that pile on too much cheese, it’s gets plasticky quickly. I like lots of sauce, minimal cheese, which probably explains why I like PJ’s.

  33. SteveA says:

    gross. Papa John’s is hands down the worst pizza I’ve ever had in my entire life.

  34. Magister says:

    The ONLY thing I miss about Long Island was the Pizza. Loved the seedy little slice joints. Great pizza!!!

  35. DTWD says:

    I don’t eat pizza much, but Little Caesars tastes better than Papa John’s IMO. I love the crazy bread.

  36. Trai_Dep says:

    I sorta agree, but was driven away from Papa Johns b/c they FORCED you to listen to their pre-recorded infomercials/up-sells.

    Never looked back. Local ALWAYS better.

  37. Triteon says:

    I have never eaten Papa John’s and not become sick. Even one slice causes a reaction best described as a Howard Stern sound effect that goes on and off for hours.

  38. econobiker says:

    If you cannot fold an individual slice of pizza then it is just a shadow of real pizza. If the grease doesn’t drip off the pizza, then its not real pizza. If you can’t burn the roof of your mouth on the molten hot cheese/grease combo, then its never going to be real pizza…

    Back in ’99 or 2000, I actually got the free CD-Now (later bought by Amazon I think) Online Music Sampler CD from Pizza Hut’s “Big New Yorker Pizza” promotion with the personalized inscription “NJ PIZZA RULES, SCREW PIZZA HUT.” I wanted something else in place of “SCREW” but figured there would be a profanity flag on “F**K” when they printed the CDs.

    Prior to caller ID, college friends and I used to call Dominos and order the Carryout Special. When they’d tell the total we’d start telling them where to deliver and they’d get crazy. We’d argue that the sign in front of the store says “FREE DELIVERY” so how can they charge two different prices for me picking it up or them delivering? This was particular fun to do on a Friday night at about 9:00pm at a college town with a Division 1 college football game the next day. We’d time how long it took for them to hang up. Surprisingly alot would finally agree to deliver, we’d give a chump address (or address of one of our friends not in on the deal). Then they’d say they couldn’t deliver there due to safety issues and slam down the phone… Now the signs are different…

  39. rdm says:

    Papa John’s does not know how to top a pizza. We always order PJ or PH (not much else around here) and PH’s isn’t as good, but at least they know what “extra cheese” or “extra olives” means. We ordered a pizza with extra olives from PJ and it had about 3 slices of olives per slice of pizza.

  40. Little Mintz Sunshine says:

    The Papa John’s in my LA neighborhood sucks. Sure, the pizza is ok but the delivery is just awful. Hey, if someone screws up once, I will give them a second chance, particularly when it comes to pizza. But my patience on WTF, Just Order Pizza Attempt #2 ends when my pizza isn’t delivered for six hours, which is four hours after I cancelled it, which is after two hours of hearing “He’s on his way…”. I could have been in another state by now, asshole. I even tried to order from another Papa John’s, which is closer but not, I now know, in my delivery zone, and they said “No”. I even emailed Papa John’s to complain and never heard anything back. As I am lucky to live near a Trader Joe’s now, I just buy their pizza fixings and can have one in no time, without the hassle.

  41. NYCMacUser says:

    I *have* to design a puking smiley!

  42. dborch says:

    My Papa Johns experience from this weekend.
    Here is my Papa John story from the weekend.

    During the OSU/USC game, the wife says she’ll go online and order a PJ pizza.
    She is a little pissed, because before you order, you have to fill out a long form with email address, other unnecessary info, and chose a password. She completes the form, and the info does not go through. It asks her to re-input the info. She does, and gets another message – their servers are down. Try again later.

    So I call the Papa Johns store and tell them I want the on-line deals. Nope. This is not possible. i tell them their servers are down. They are sorry. The woman gives me their 800 customer service number. I asked: you really think someone is going to be there at 7:30 at night? Oh yes. I call, and get a lovely recording telling me to hold on, someone will be with me in a moment. I hang up after fifteen minutes.

    I call the Papa John franchise back and ask for the manager. They have to consult, because they dont know who the manager is. They decide there really is no manager, but if I call on Monday, I can talk to the owner.

    I go back to the website and fill out a lengthy complaint. Almost immediately, I get an automatic response telling me that my complaint number is something like JV1209S321-J.

    You know something is seriously wrong when they have a complaint identification number that is longer than the serial number on a dollar.

    It was like they were trying to see how difficult they could make it to order a pizza. I wont make this mistake again.