Everyone knows local pizza spots are better than national delivery chains. But chains have monster marketing power, numerous locations and the unbeatable convenience of delivering to your house. That's why hungry diners continue to turn to Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Domino's when the craving strikes. (Though one has recently stirred up controversy: Papa John's founder and former chief executive John Schnatter faced backlash when he blamed the NFL anthem protests for his brand's lagging sales.)
A team of Washington Post staffers decided to hold a blind taste test of the three shops. The three pies were ordered online at the same time for delivery to The Post's office in downtown Washington. All the pizzas were large cheese. (We went with Pizza Hut's classic pan crust, because it's the brand's trademark.) Judges were asked to weigh in on the quality of the crust, sauce and cheese, and then rate each sample on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score.
None were great. Then again, it's hard to turn down any pizza.
Average score: 2.1
Price (not including tax, tip and delivery fee): $15.99
Delivery time: 1 hour, 16 minutes (traveled 1.3 miles)
Comments: "This is the greasiest crust known to mankind. As if the crust was painted in oil and heated to crisp it." "Sauce almost metallic." "Cheese is nicely burned!" "The crust has an airy texture and buttery flavor." "It tastes like a bad childhood pizza party without the Book-It consolation prize." "Would not need to be drunk or hung over to enjoy but would perhaps need to be desperately hungry."
Average score: 2.6
Price (not including tax, tip and delivery fee): $13.49
Delivery time: 23 minutes (traveled 0.2 miles)
Comments: "Just tastes like cheese bread, which is fine." "The garlic-and-herb dusting on the crust — artificial or not — is an effective tool for raising this crust's profile." "Underdeveloped dough." "The sauce tastes like tomatoes; there are herbs!" "Nah, I'll pass." "Would eat if hungover but would need lots of hot sauce." "Decent enough to do the job when you want a no-fuss delivery pie."
Average score: 3
Price (not including tax, tip and delivery fee): $15
Delivery time: 42 minutes (traveled 0.9 miles)
Comments: "Good rim for holding." "At least they're trying here, by dusting the crust with a little flour and not cooking the life out of it." "Sauce is sweet." "I can actually taste oregano, so that's good." "Gloopy cheese that at least tastes of dairy?" "Cheese isn't burned enough." "If I had to order one, I'd order this one."
This post has been updated.