Friday, April 1, 2011

Chain Reaction: Papa John's

One of the wife's favorite pastimes is ragging on me for liking Papa John's pizza. She says it isn't authentic enough. That no self-respecting Italian person would eat it. And I don't know, maybe she's right. All I know is that when you order a pizza from Papa John's you know what you are going to get. The sauce may be a little too sweet, but it isn't bland or watery. If you ask for extra sauce, the supposed artisan who is making your pie won't get insulted and drench your pie like a fireman trying to put out a five-alarm blaze. Will your pie seem like it derived from a masterclass on pizzamaking? No, but nine out of ten times you will be guaranteed NOT to receive a bust! It was this thought that drove me to ask the wife if we could get a Papa John's pizza on this evening. We needed to eat something without meat. They were running an ad for some sort of Tuscan Six-Cheese pizza, and it just seemed like a perfect fit. Surprisingly, the wife agreed, an order was placed, and, about a half-hour later, the pizza had arrived.

First bad sign: The pizza was delivered by a guy who evidently deemed a warming bag unnecessary on a 40-degree spring day. The wife theorized that, since she had placed the order online and had already added the tip, the gent probably felt no need to earn a tribute. Maybe the guy had it in the warmer in the car and just took it out to walk it up to our house? Who knows? Either way, a naked pie being handed to you is just bad form. And by the way, for this poor presentation, Papa John's has the temerity to charge a $2 delivery charge. Galling.

When I got the pizza inside, I opened it up. It looked pretty good at first glance, but maybe a little overdone. Sure enough, when I put a slice on the plate for closer examination and eventual consumption, it was clear that Big Papa had struck a sour note on this day. First of all, as I alluded to earlier, the pie was cold. It got to us in 30 minutes. We have ordered from them several times, so they must have known our address. So it had to have simply been the naked pie. Come on, man! Throw that sum'bitch in a warmer next time...uh, if there is a next time.

I say this because when I took the slice in hand, I realized that the crust was blackened and the cheese was a bit clumpy, both sure signs of an overdone pie. A bite into the slice revealed other issues. If they added extra sauce it was not evident to me. Also, the six cheeses were underwhelming. I only tasted one really. How this pie was different from the usual plain pie is beyond me. Don't get me wrong, I still ate four slices of the pie. It was certainly edible. It's just that, in a pie that you go to for an uncomplicated sure thing, it is even more disappointing to get a relative bust. A cold pie? A burnt crust? Failure to heed extra sauce instructions? These missteps are unforgivable whether you are a chain or a mom-and-pop shop.

It's not like I will never go back to Papa John's. I have had to many good experiences with their spicy Hawaiian pie (pepperoni, jalapenos, and pineapple), plus their owner seems like a cool enough if overly excitable guy with incredible aim. Still, the dud I received might make it a little harder for me to convince my more skeptical better half in the future. Better ingredients? Better pizza? Not on this night.


2810 Ridge Pike
Norristown, PA 19403

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