Okay, are we ready for my most controversial opinions maybe yet? Yeah, you know what time it is...
Unranked: Papa Murphy's
: I decided not to include Papa Murphy's here because if you have to cook the food yourself it doesn't count. It's pretty exceptional pizza for chain pizza though. It would be in the top three if I counted it.
I considered ranking Fox's Pizza Den because Wikipedia listed it on their "pizza chains" list. I've had it once. It was terrible. This was years ago, so I can't say if it was any better. My entire family thought the sauce tasted weird and we never had it again.
I don't know if Toppers is prominent enough to warrant a ranking, so I didn't rank it. It's very good, though usually a bit pricier than the other options on this list. They seem really into the "funkier" pizzas with like tater tots and mac and cheese on them, and while those pizzas are usually pretty good I think their regular-ass pepperoni is where it's at.
11. Pizza Ranch
Pizza Ranch's main appeal is that it is a buffet. This is the only reason you should eat at Pizza Ranch, because it is very bad pizza. The desert pizzas are fine.
10. Pizza Hut
I have fond memories of Pizza Hut as a child. Eating at Pizza Hut lunch buffets was a treat on weekends or in the summer. It's a place you went to after a little league game. Getting a free personal pizza from Pizza Hut for reading books as part of the Book It! program was good. I love the idea I have of Pizza Hut inside my head.
I can not reconcile that with the fact that every time I have eaten Pizza Hut in the past six years, I have felt terrible. It doesn't matter if I eat one slice or an entire pizza. I feel awful and bloated. I've gotten sick immediately after eating Pizza Hut twice in the past few years. I want to love this thing that was a big part of my childhood. I cannot. Do you think I want to go against the pizza chain that revolutionized pizza with the Stuffed Crust? Pizza Hut is an innovator of "adding stupid **** like pretzels or hot dogs to pizza" and I want to love it. But I can't even stomach it.
As far as the pizza buffets go, Cicis is way better than Pizza Ranch. I've gone to very few pizza buffets lately because I want to feel good about myself. If I were to choose one, it would in fact be Cicis.
When Domino's improved their crust however many years ago, it drastically improved their pizzas. That's not saying much. Domino's pizza used to be undoubtedly the bottom of the barrel. It tastes better now, but the garlicy crust they use now is way too ****ing salty. Even if I wash it down with water, the garlicy taste doesn't leave my mouth. It's overwhelming. I ate a lot of Domino's because it was one of the few things that delivered to my old residence. It was usually fine, but sometimes they gave me just an awful, awful pizza. Shoutout to the $5.99 mix and match deal, though.
Their pan pizza and thin crust are way better than the hand-tossed.
Another childhood favorite that doesn't hold up as well as I'd like to remember it. I have fond memories of going to the mall with my Mom and her telling me and my siblings we could choose anything in the food court. I always chose Sbarro because you could get a big slice of pizza AND two sides, which seemed like an illegal amount of food at the time. It's fine if you're at a food court, but the "New York slice" thing doesn't work as well when you find a local place that sells by the slice.
6. Little Caesars
Putting Little Caesars this high is probably controversial. I don't care. I love it. It's admittedly a risk. 2/3s of the time you order a Hot n Ready, the "hot" descriptor doesn't ring true by the time you take it home. But the other 1/3 of the time it's incredible. I like the spicier sauce that Little Caesars has. And even if you do get a lesser Hot n Ready, you're only out five bucks. It's worth the gamble.
I've never eaten Marco's in any situation that wasn't "we have coupons for the Marco's/Family Video that gives us a deal on pizza AND movie rentals." For pizza that comes with a five-day rental of Tarzan
, it does the trick.
4. Papa John's
A lot of people hate Papa John's, and I mostly get it. I still have a fondness for it, because it's something I ate a ton of as a teenager. I went to a boarding high school and there was a Papa John's a block away from the school. The school cafeteria food was dreadful. When I had a few bucks and wanted to escape the bad school meals, Papa John's was the thing. And I think they still make a perfectly "okay" chain pizza, though the sauce might be slightly too sweet. I also love that ungodly garlic sauce that comes with every pizza.
These are two different chains of pizza, but they might as well be the same to me. It makes sense that the sub restaurant/fast casual Mexican restaurant style of having the ingredients in front of you and making an infinitely customizable meal would translate to the pizza realm, and if I'm just ordering a pizza for myself, this is a good move since I can put as much on it as I want without paying individually for each topping.
2. Hungry Howie's
Hungry Howie's is close to perfect. I love the crust, it always has a nice bite to it while still being soft on the inside, and the ability to add flavorings to the crust puts it over the edge. It's probably the most addicting pizza to me. I can easily stop at a few slices for other pizza chains, but I always have a hard time stopping myself from Hungry Howie's. The only issue is that it's very greasy, and that can overwhelm everything.
If I'm getting pizza and it's not from a local place, I want it to be Jet's. Their regular round pizzas are fine, but the reason they're on top is the ability to order Detroit-style deep dish, with the crunchy, cheesy edge as the crust. There is nothing like a corner piece of a Detroit style pizza. Nothing. I'm not really taking sides into much account for this ranking here, but they also have the best sides as far as I'm concerned.