Pizza delivery is tough. No-name chains deliver something like cardboard, Pizza Hut only delivers in some places, and Domino's was founded by a pro-life extremist. So where does relative newcomer Papa John's fit? As we've found, nicely at the top.
Ordering pizza is also a guilty pleasure. The great independent place down the street - or even Pizza Express - seems enough like 'real' food to escape that label. But when a pie comes to your house in a big cardboard box and some chemical dip, it just feels bad.
But tonight, the fast food planets aligned, and the time was right.
Having had enough of the alternatives, we decided to try Papa John's, and went to their site.
Strangely, the chain only offers Medium and Extra-Large pizzas, and given that two of us almost made it through an Extra-Large, we assume a Medium serves one. The site suggested a Half & Half, so we ordered BBQ Chicken and The Works (without mushrooms, which we were pleased to see were ommitted).
Fifteen minutes later a text arrived: Your Papa John's order is on its way. Thank you.
Fifteen minutes after that it was at our door, and then at our table.
And it was good!
They advertise 'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.' and sure enough, that seems to be the case. It tasted pretty much like real food - the toppings were reasonably fresh (and adequately represented), and the crust actually tasted like pretty good pizza crust. The BBQ sauce got to be a bit sweet at the end, but all-in-all, their formula seems to work.
It's certainly better than Domino's, which doesn't taste like much of anything, and Pizza Hut, which tastes 100% processed.
Papa John's has 200 outlets in the UK, but only 13 in Greater London, and in Central-ish London, are only in Hoxton & The City, the Docklands, West Hampstead, Richmond and Islington.
Interestingly, one of the Pizza Hut co-founders owns 133 Papa John's locations in the U.S., which should tell us something.