Expert Opinions: Top Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Pizza Chains
Yes, executive chefs like Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air's Hugo Bolanos dig the big chains, too.
Everyone has their personal preference for pizza. For many, it’s a local, independently-owned pizzeria. But for others, especially those who live in areas without a lot of locally-owned stores, chains are the only choice. That’s not to say that the chains can’t turn out a great-tasting pie—they can and do. In a recent article by INSIDER, expert chefs dished their opinions on their favorite pizza chains, big and small.
In no particular order, here are some of the chain pizzerias chefs prefer:
Chef Jim Mumford of Portage, Michigan-based Jim Cooks Food Good loves Little Caesars’ Detroit-style deep-dish pizza. "Such a guilty pleasure,” Mumford told Insider. “That Detroit style, with the burnt cheese rim and super-crunchy crust, is everything. Side of ranch non-optional!"
Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based executive chef Brandon Thordarson of Moxie’s Grill and Bar concurred. "I stop for a Hot-and-Ready pizza once a week,” Thordarson told Insider. “You can't beat the value of a $5 cheese and pepperoni pizza. For me, a good pie such as Little Caesars must/does have chewy, soft dough [that's] not too thick. The sauce should be acidic and sweet with herbs, and [the pizza should] have the right ratio of sauce to bread to ensure it's not dry. Lastly, the cheese: Just give me straight-up mozzarella and make sure to cover the pizza. Little Caesars has the best bang for your buck and great taste to boot."
"MOD Pizza (above) has become a staple for my family during our busiest days,” said chef de cuisine Kristal Damron of Phoenix’s Reward Your Appetite Catering. “We love the variety of toppings and watching our pizzas bake in a wood-burning oven right before our eyes. My go-to order is a deliciously complex custom combo of red sauce, garlic, basil, mozzarella, chicken, mild Italian sausage, green peppers, black olives, roasted broccoli, roasted red peppers, red onions, roasted garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and oregano.”
Fast-casual themed Pizzeria Locale started in Boulder, Colorado, and expanded to Denver in collaboration with Chipotle, with further expansion plans on the horizon. "This pizzeria is my chain go-to because of its fresh, high-quality ingredients and the always consistent and good flavor combinations,” says Denver’s chef Rich Byers of The Corner Office and Martini Bar. “They have simple options, a few recommended pizzas and a build-your-own [program] with great dough. [The dough has a strong] balance between crisp and chewy. Reasonable prices, as well."
Hugo Bolanos, executive chef of Los Angeles’ Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, had this to say about the fast-casual chain: “Blaze Pizza started in Pasadena, and I am proud to say that I have been a loyal customer ever since its inception at its first location. [Things are] even better [for Blaze] now that our own Laker Nation Leader, Lebron James, is a big supporter and part owner."
This Michigan-based chain features Detroit-style square pies. "Jet's Pizza is everything a QSR pizzeria should be,” says pizzaiolo Tony Scardino of Chicago’s Dough Bros Pizzeria. “No product of theirs shines more than their Eight Corner! Nestled into a pizza box are two beautiful Detroit-inspired pizzas. Every true pizza lover knows that when you have a square or rectangular pan pizza, the coveted slice is always the corner. Jet's recognizes this reality and provides you with nothing but corners!"
Executive chef Derek Dupree of Chicago’s Bernie's Lunch and Supper likes the quality of ingredients utilized at Papa John's (above). "Papa John's is my go-to,” Dupree says. “It sounds corny, because their slogan is 'better ingredients, better pizza,' but I really do feel like they use better ingredients. I also love the garlic butter that comes with the pizza!"
Unless you live in a cave or under a rock, you’ve probably had a Domino’s pizza (below) at some point or another. This giant of the pizza industry continues to dominate the pizza landscape, and for good reason. “Domino's has great consistency and, for the most part, what you order is what you get,” says executive chef Raymond Weber of New York City’s CUT by Wolfgang Puck. “For a chain restaurant, their dough and cheese are better than their competitors." His go-to order? A deep-dish pie with pepperoni and black olives, paired with an ice-cold Sprite.