If you’re a pizza enthusiast, you know that sometimes you have to settle for a chain pizza. While local pizzerias are often the go-to option for pizza lovers, chain pizzerias can offer a taste of different pizza styles from across the United States.
Whether you’re craving Detroit-style pizza in South Carolina or want to try Maryland-style pizza in New York City, chain pizza can satisfy your cravings. In this article, we will rank popular pizza chains, from the worst to the best, and explore what makes each chain unique.
Domino’s, once known for its 30-minute delivery guarantee, has struggled to maintain its reputation in recent years. While the company has made efforts to improve its pizza quality, the highly-processed crust and lackluster toppings still leave much to be desired. Domino’s may serve as a convenient option in a pinch, but it shouldn’t be your first choice for a memorable pizza experience.
15. Godfather’s Pizza
Once a beloved Southern chain, Godfather’s Pizza has experienced a decline in popularity and is now harder to find. The chain offers a basic pie with classic toppings, but it fails to stand out in terms of taste and innovation. Godfather’s Pizza seems to have lost its former charm and is now phoning it in.
14. Marco’s Pizza
With its Italian heritage, Marco’s Pizza aims to provide an authentic pizza experience. While the chain claims to use fresh ingredients, there is little that distinguishes its pizzas from other chain offerings. Marco’s Italian pedigree doesn’t shine through, making it an average choice in the pizza chain landscape.
13. Papa John’s
Known for its “better ingredients” slogan, Papa John’s offers pizzas loaded with toppings. While some may appreciate the generous portions, the overwhelming number of ingredients can border on excess. Papa John’s has also faced controversy related to its founder’s remarks and political entanglements, which may influence some customers’ decisions.
12. Hungry Howie’s
Hungry Howie’s stands out with its flavored crust options, a concept that has been imitated by other pizzerias. While the chain’s extensive menu is commendable, the flavored crusts can overshadow the otherwise unremarkable pizza. Customers who enjoy the unique crust options may find Hungry Howie’s worth a try.
Sbarro gained popularity in malls across the country with its New York-style pizza. However, the decline of shopping malls has affected the chain’s presence. Despite this setback, Sbarro still serves a serviceable version of New York-style pizza, making it a viable choice when you’re in a pizza desert.
10. CiCi’s Pizza
CiCi’s Pizza is synonymous with buffet-style dining. While the buffet concept has declined in popularity, CiCi’s still offers an affordable all-you-can-eat buffet with a wide variety of pizza options. This freedom of choice, along with its decent taco pizza, makes CiCi’s a worthy pizza chain, especially in its Texas origins.
Donatos specializes in tavern-style pizza, featuring a thin crust, square-cut slices, and toppings that extend to the edge. In a move towards innovation, Donatos introduced a plant-based pepperoni, catering to the growing demand for vegan options. With its commitment to tradition and willingness to experiment, Donatos appeals to a wide range of pizza lovers.
8. Round Table Pizza
Round Table Pizza takes its name from the idea of pizza as a communal food, symbolized by a large round table. The chain primarily operates in California and offers a variety of specialty pizzas with on-trend ingredients. While Round Table Pizza may not be the best in the world, it delivers a satisfying.
7. Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut holds a special place in the hearts of many, with memories ranging from childhood parties to post-game celebrations. This chain embraces its kitschy appeal, highlighted in its marketing campaigns, such as the real-life pizza thrower inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Beyond the nostalgia, Pizza Hut offers tasty and reliable pizza with crust options like pan, thin-crust, and hand-tossed. Their iconic stuffed crust pizza continues to be a favorite, all at affordable prices.
6. Ledo Pizza
Originating near the University of Maryland, Ledo Pizza has expanded to over 100 locations. The thin, buttery crust and rectangular shape of their pizzas are the hallmark of their Maryland-style, which has now found its way to New York City. Ledo Pizza’s advantage lies in its signature crust, which requires less time to prepare, and their generous toppings, such as oversized pepperoni slices and fresh sausage. Their specialty pizzas, like the Korean Chicken Pizza and Enchilada Pizza, cater to diverse tastes.
5. Jet’s Pizza
Jet’s Pizza owes a large part of its success to a secret sauce recipe developed by the founder’s mother. Slightly sweet with a touch of spice, this sauce complements their signature Detroit-style deep-dish pie. Jet’s deep-dish pizzas are known for their generous portions and require adjusted expectations due to their thickness. Apart from deep-dish, Jet’s also offers traditional pizzas with the same flavorful sauce.
4. MOD Pizza
Taking inspiration from the fast-casual model popularized by Chipotle, MOD Pizza allows customers to build their own pizzas and salads. What sets MOD apart is their size-based pricing and the inclusion of toppings at no extra charge, giving customers complete freedom to create their ideal pizza. Their pizzerias often incorporate local flavors and decor, making each location feel unique. The menu features a variety of classic and specialty pizzas, like the Calexico with grilled chicken, jalapeños, and Buffalo chicken wing sauce, or the Mad Dog for meat lovers.
3. Mellow Mushroom
Mellow Mushroom stands out with its psychedelic-themed ambiance and premium toppings. Their contemporary toppings, such as pesto sauce, avocado, and roasted red peppers, elevate the pizza experience. Mellow Mushroom embraces its theme with specialty pizza names like Kosmic Karma and Funky Q. Chicken.
2. California Pizza Kitchen
California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) takes pride in its California-inspired flavors and innovative combinations. Drawing inspiration from Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant, CPK uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients like avocados, artichokes, and goat cheese to create their unique California-style pizza. The chain also embraces cultural influences, incorporating Asian and Latin flavors into their menu. CPK provides an upscale dining experience that embodies the relaxed California vibe. Their menu extends beyond pizza, featuring items like the West Coast Burger made with Wagyu beef and other non-traditional additions like wild mushroom soup and Baja Crunch salad.
1. Uno Pizzeria & Grill
Uno Pizzeria & Grill earns the top spot on this list by inventing the renowned Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Their deep-dish pizza stands out not just for its thickness but also for its unique topping order. With a layer of dough pressed into a deep circular pan, followed by toppings, cheese, and finally, sauce, the reverse approach ensures even cooking. Uno has evolved its brand over the years, transitioning from a Chicago-themed casual atmosphere to a more upscale dining experience. Craft beer and elevated offerings have become prominent features of Uno’s establishments. While it may not surpass your favorite local pizzeria, Uno Pizzeria & Grill stands as the best pizza chain nationwide, with its deep-dish pizza legacy and widespread availability.