Pros: Fresh tasting, inexpensive alternative.
Cons: Limited varieties.
I cooked and catered professionally for nearly 20 years, and love pizza as much as the next person. What I don't like, is having to cook when I don't have to, or cook when I've faced the quantities of food necessary to take care of a large medical center.
Though I recently turned in my checkered pants, aprons and Chef's caps in favor of a bird's eye view from behind the wheel of an 18-Wheeler, I still know what I like and don't like about chain restaurant pizza. And maybe now, as a more frequent consumer, quality and value are what I look for most.
Papa Murphy's Pizza
This large chain restaurant will never replace the small Mom and Pop places that make each pie by hand, and pack on the fresh toppings. We all know places like that, and I'm only willing to compare Papa Murphy's to other big guys like Shakey's, Domino's and Round Table.
I like the concept of fresh, hot pizza, and didn't mind the idea of "take and bake" if this would give me the best taste. The dough is made fresh daily, and reminds me of those white loaves of Bridgeford Bread you'll find in your freezer. Only fresher.
This provides a fairly thick crust, more similar to Chicago style pizza than the regular thin crust at the other contenders I've named above. You can choose between medium, large or family-sized pizzas. If you are a hearty eater, the medium serves 1, the large is good for 2 people and the family size can serve 4 to 6, especially if there are some kids, (note: this doesn't mean teenagers, you'll need twice as much!).
There are single crust and double-crust pizzas to choose from. As you would expect the double-crust ones are a lot more filling. They offer a small variety of calzones, (basically pizza turnovers), and salads, and cheesy bread sticks as well as chocolate chip cookie dough for the baking.
One pizza that always seems to be on sale at Papa Murphy's is the Papa's Perfect Pizza, which is half Hawaiian, (Canadian Bacon and pineapple), and half Pepperoni. Single topping pizzas, such as the Pepperoni also show up on sale, with a sign out front advertising "Large Pepperoni Pizza, $5.99." That's a great deal, especially considering the regular price is $8.99.
There is one vegetarian calzone available, and plain cheese pizza starts out at $6.99 for the medium. Prices for the stuffed pizzas start are $12.49 for the 3 large varieties and $13.99 for the trio of family-sized monsters.
There are some Gourmet pizzas available, including Chicken Garlic, Classic Italian, (meat), and Vegetarian. These start at $9.49 for the medium and are made with creamy garlic-rather than tomato sauce.
Bottom line: so how do these taste? Well, I enjoyed the mixture of mozzarella, provolone and Cheddar cheeses, and the tomato sauce was extra mild and sparing. My girlfriend and I are getting older and we don't like sauce coming back on us, (indigestion/heartburn), from too much acidic sauce.
This one didn't.
The toppings are fresh and generous. The last one we tried, sausage and mushroom, could have used slightly thicker pieces of mushroom but that was my only quibble. The flavor was delicious, full of cheese, Italian seasonings, good quality sausage, mushroom and the fresh tasting crust I mentioned above.
One thing about Papa Murphy's I can give you as a tip: Never pay full price, as there is always a sale of some kind. I've gotten in the habit of asking "What are your specials?" when I call, and there is always something I like for 2 or 3 dollars off regular price.
Another tip? Lots of times I go in person, the last half hour before closing, and those giant stuffed babies, (the Chicago-style is my favorite), are going out the door for half off. That's 6 bucks and change for a whopper that will serve 4, no question, or 2 big burly truckers like me.