Pizza chains carry a sense of nostalgia with them. Maybe your family had a favorite national chain you ordered from or perhaps after your team won a basketball game, you all went to a particular pizza restaurant.
National pizza chains each have a different style of pizza with a distinct flavor profile and array of toppings.
Before you pick up the phone to order takeout or delivery, here’s a closer look at the taste of five national pizza chains, so you can pick the one best suited to your palate.
As always, availability of crusts, cheese and toppings may vary depending on location, so check with your local restaurant to see what they offer.
The crust: The default crust at Domino’s is their hand-tossed crust. It’s a thicker crust (not near deep dish), which has a garlicky, salty oil on top. The crust is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and can hold a substantial number of toppings. The chain also has thin crust (think crispy and almost like a cracker or flatbread), Brooklyn style crust (similar to a New York slice of pizza), a gluten-free crust and a handmade pan crust, which is their version of a deep dish (golden brown and crispy on the outside).
The cheese: Domino’s has eight different cheeses, according to its website: cheddar, mozzarella, provolone (sliced or shredded), feta, American, Parmesan or pizza blend. The default cheese on the cheese pizza tastes like mozzarella is the dominant cheese and it melts well.
The toppings: Domino’s has a decent variety of speciality pizzas, and the chain also has a mixture of standard meat and vegetable toppings.
What sets the chain apart: Variety of different crusts.
The crust: Blaze Pizza’s classic pizza crust is on the thinner side. It’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and is good for a pizza lover who likes flatbread styles of pizza. The chain also has a gluten-free dough, a cauliflower crust (which does not taste like cauliflower and actually tastes like pizza dough) and a vegan pizza dough.
The cheese: If you’re vegan or lactose-sensitive, Blaze Pizza offers a vegan cheese option, which means you can eat pizza again. The chain also offers Parmesan, mozzarella (fresh or shredded), goat cheese, feta, ricotta and Gorgonzola. Having less common cheeses like ricotta and goat cheese adds a creamier or tangier flavor profile to the pizza.
The toppings: Blaze has the standard meat and vegetable toppings you might expect, but the chain also offers drizzles of pesto or other sauces across your pizza and sauces outside the box of the typical red pizza sauce.
What sets the chain apart: The drizzles.
The crust: If you like stuffed crust, Papa John’s has an option for you. The stuffed crust is filled with mozzarella that pulls apart as you eat it. There are other options of stuffed crusts like the one filled with cheese and pepperoni. The actual crust seems to be the same as the standard crust, which tastes like a breadstick (it’s on the chewier side rather than the crunchy side). The chain also has a crispy thin crust, a gluten-free crust and a New York style crust.
The cheese: Papa John’s variety of cheeses is standard: mozzarella, Parmesan, Fontina, provolone, Romano and Asiago. The pizza cheese here is golden brown when it’s baked.
The toppings: The Papa John’s toppings are standard meat and vegetable toppings.
What sets the chain apart: Stuffed crusts.
The crust: MOD specializes in personal pizzas: either standard crust, thick crust, gluten-friendly crust or cauliflower crust. The standard crust is on the thinner side and it’s more crispy than chewy. The cauliflower crust has a hint of cheese taste in it, and is a gluten-friendly option as it is made with rice flour and tapioca starch rather than with standard flour.
The cheese: The chain offers dairy-free cheese (another win for those avoiding dairy), Asiago, feta, mozzarella, Parmesan and Gorgonzola.
The toppings: The toppings here are the standard meat and vegetable toppings with a few unexpected ones like anchovies, plant-based Italian sausage, ground beef, corn and artichokes.
What sets the chain apart: Variety of toppings.
The crust: The pan pizza crust is thick, golden brown, crispy, on the denser side and chewy. The hand tossed crust tastes similar to an Olive Garden breadstick and the inside of it is airy. The garlicky spread on top of the crust adds additional flavor. The chain’s thin crust has a bit of crunch to it. Pizza Hut also offers stuffed crust: one has cheese on the inside and the other has bacon and cheese. And Pizza Hut has a gluten-free crust.
The cheese: Pizza Hut seems to have the standard mozzarella-forward pizza cheese that melts well across the crust. This cheese also pulls well and a generous portion is put on top of the pie.
The toppings: Pizza Hut has the standard array of meat and vegetable toppings along with grilled chicken, which is not always available at every pizza shop.
What sets the chain apart: Stuffed crusts.