Pizza is one of the most eaten foods in the world and one of the few food items loved by almost just anyone. While we all have our favorite toppings, sauces, and crusts, all of these don’t matter if the restaurant you get it from isn’t up to the task. With that in mind, here is our list of the Top 10 Best Pizza Restaurants in 2021.
10. Papa John’s
The story of Papa John’s origins is pretty well known; John ‘Papa’ Schnatter tried to save his father’s tavern back in the early 1980s by selling his 1971 Camaro Z28 and putting all the money into making pizzas. The pizza proved to be popular, and within a year, he moved into a bigger space and started to expand his pizza selection. After only 10 years in the biz, Papa John’s had opened more than 500 stores across the country. The story of Papa John’s is kinda like the true American dream. As we work our way through 2021, Papa John’s is still holding its own as one of the big guys in the pizza world. The main reason why Papa John’s has been able to keep up in the highly competitive pizza market is that they keep things simple. Only focusing on delivery and take-out rather than dine-in; it was, after all, one of the first pizza chains to offer online ordering back in the early 2000s. It also focuses on serving up quality and tasty pies by using fresh ingredients as much as possible in order to keep its good reputation going.
9. Uno Pizzeria and Grill
In the world of pizza, there’s always been that ongoing debate about which is the best pizza style; thin crust or deep dish? Some people take this debate very seriously and quite rightly too. If you fall on the side of thin-crust pizza, then you probably don’t even think of deep dish pizza as pizza at all, and vice versa. However, if your favorite pizza is the deep-dish kind, then you will definitely want to check out Uno Pizzeria and Grill. Dating all the way back to the 1940s in Chicago, Uno has been the number one spot to get a tasty deep-dish pie. The founders, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, wanted to bring deep dish pizza to the masses, and while it is still up for some debate as to whether they actually invented the Deep dish pizza or not, they certainly made it popular. While this restaurant has been going since the 1940s, it didn’t start franchising till the 1970s. Because of that, it may not have as many locations as other pizza chains or be as famous, but if you are looking for the best deep-dish pizza, Uno Pizzeria and Grill is definitely a must to check out. Over the years, the menu has expanded and changed as it tried to keep up with changing tastes and food fads, but the deep dish pizza pie is still one of the best on the market and keeps many pizza fans full and happy.
Domino’s might as well be declared the new king of pizza chains. When looking at sales and number of locations, it’s ahead of everybody else. This chain was one of the first to really popularize home delivery instead of focusing on dining in the actual restaurant itself. You could say that the secret to Domino’s success is its ability to not just keep up with the latest technology trends, but to actually create them. Domino’s new ordering system, AnyWare, crosses many digital platforms for easier options to order tasty pizza. Smart TVs, Smart Watches, Smart Speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa, and as well a very strong social media presence, all make it more accessible for us to reach out to the restaurant. As well as making it easier for us to order its products, Domino’s also has many ways to deliver that pizza to us quickly and efficiently. This is all thanks to technology keeping our pizzas hotter for longer while being delivered and the delivery method itself. It recently started delivering pizza using custom e-bikes by electric bike company Rad Power Bikes. Those are just some of the ways Domino’s mixes pizza with technology in order to stay ahead of the curve. As for the pizzas themselves, Domino’s offers a huge selection of toppings, sauces, doughs, pizza styles, sides, and dipping sauces. Because everyone has their favorite style or type of pizza, Domino’s really tries to satisfy everyone’s needs – even the fussiest pizza lovers out there.
7. Papa Murphy’s
Papa Murphy’s rise to fame has been mostly thanks to the fact that it’s the only national-scale pizza chain based solely on a “take and bake” pizzas concept. Basically, customers go by the store to buy the assembled pizza in the store, and then they take it home and bake it themselves. It was the mid-1980s when Terry Collins acquired and consolidated two existing chains, Papa Aldo’s Pizza and Murphy’s Pizza. Papa Murphy’s emphasizes the freshness of its ingredients, noting its stores do not have freezers, with dough made fresh from scratch daily, 100% whole-milk mozzarella cheese grated daily, and hand-sliced veggies. The chain was recently acquired by Canadian company MTY Group, which operates more than 70 different quick-service and casual-dining restaurant brands. Founded in 1985 and franchising since 1986, the number of locations has declined in recent years, but, thankfully, the quality of their pizzas hasn’t. Papa Murphy’s may not be the biggest name in the pizza chain world, but it does offer a great selection of fresh and tasty pizzas with a few surprisingly nice topping selections as well.
6. Little Caesar’s
Little Caesar’s was founded in 1959 by Mike Ilitch, a shortstop for the Detroit Tigers farm team at the time, and his wife, Marian. The first location was in Garden City, which is still open today. Little Caesar’s quickly became one of the forerunners of pizza chains and it continues to be one of the big hitters. One of the main reasons Little Caesar’s stood out from the crowd is because of its square pizzas. It may not sound like much, but it’s usually the simplest things that can help you get ahead in the industry. Because of this, Little Caesar’s has gone from strength to strength over the years. So much so that the company recently built a new 9-story $150 million headquarters in Detroit, featuring a glass façade composed of panes of glass in the triangular shape of pizza slices. In addition to its well-known catch-phrase “Pizza! Pizza!” and square pies, Little Caesars also broke new ground with the introduction of its “Hot-N-Ready” concept, offering carryout pizzas at surprisingly low prices during certain hours of the day, usually between 4-8 p.m. The pizzas themselves are tasty and plenty full, all served with Little Caesar’s iconic sauces. The pizza sauce has a great deep flavor that will definitely have you coming back for more.
With our list of the Top 10 Pizza Restaurants in 2021, many of our entries will be very familiar to you. Whether it’s because they are big named pizza chains or because they have been around for decades, most pizza restaurants named will not come as a surprise. Next up, however, is one of the new kids on the pizza block. Pieology was started by Carl Chang and serial pizza entrepreneur James Markham in 2011. Essentially, Pieology is a kind of Subway for Pizza. You can choose whatever topping, sauce, or dough you’d like, and they will make it for you. Pieology offers more than 40 different choices of toppings, which are all sourced locally whenever possible, with a menu that also reflects local trends and tastes. The chain recently rolled out six premium crust options (Artisan Thin, Artisan Thin Hearty Wheat, PieRise Thick, Hand-Crafted Deep Dish, Cauliflower Crust, and Gluten-Free) and several plant-based proteins that look and taste like meat but are made from veggies, including “Beef Meatballs,” “Spicy Italian Sausage Rounds,” and “Diced Chicken.” The amount of choice you get at Pieology is amazing, and the fact that the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced only adds to the greatness of this pizza restaurant. This and the fact that Pieology is really trying new things when it comes to dietary needs – and did we also mention that this is a completely family-run pizza company? All those points make for a very interesting, tasty, and enjoyable pizza experience.
4. Pizza Hut
For our next entry, we come to one of the biggest names in the pizza world: Pizza Hut. Or at least, it was the biggest name in pizza at one point. While many of us only have distant memories of eating out at our local Pizza Hut, mainly due to the likes of Domino’s, we do still love the pizzas that Pizza Hut has to offer. Founded in the 1950s, Pizza Hut quickly became the biggest name in pizza and everyone’s go-to place for a tasty slice. Over the following decades, Pizza Hut cornered the market on family-friendly pizza fun. As well as having a great selection, Pizza Hut also introduced things like; an all-you-can-eat salad bar and soda bar, and who can forget their all-you-can-eat ice cream bar with every topping you could possibly hope for. All of that may seem like a scene from the past as the world has moved on from those days since Domino’s revolutionized the pizza delivery business. Wholesome Pizza Hut struggled to keep up, and while it may not be back on top yet, it is still trying hard to get back there. In recent years, Pizza Hut has focused more on delivery and take-out rather than dine-in. In fact, it has closed several restaurants over the last few years in order to focus on delivery and take Domino’s down a notch. These are all good business strategies, but there is one thing that Pizza Hut still does better than most pizza joints, and that’s make great pizza. Their ingredients, toppings, and sauces all make Pizza Hut great, and we are sure this will continue to be case going forward.
If you ever take a look at how the best pizzas you’ve ever eaten were all made, you’re likely to find a single common denominator: a wood-fired oven. Nowhere is this clearer than at the pizza restaurant Bertucci’s, a pizza chain based out of Somerville, Massachusetts. Founded in the early 1980s, Burtucci’s started to expand slowly and then exploded during the 1990s as rapid growth took hold of the company. The signature pizzas on its menu tend to be more Italian in style than your run-of-the-mill chain. Expect to see things like prosciutto, ricotta, balsamic fig glaze, or pesto rather than, say, pineapple or BBQ sauce. While the pizzas themselves are thin, they are thin in a nice, crispy, and traditional Italian-style way, rather than thin in the frozen, cardboard supermarket pizza kind of way. The wood-fired aspect of their production also means that Bertucci’s pizzas are likely to be cooked just right, with the toppings nicely roasted and the dough defined by that smoky taste that you just can’t get with a normal oven. For sheer Italian authenticity, Burtucci’s is your best option.
2. California Pizza Kitchen
California Pizza Kitchen, self-professed inventors of the BBQ chicken pizza, has long been the restaurant of choice for anyone wanting the comfort of a major chain without any of the stigma that follows after buying from one. Its range of pizzas is nothing if not ambitious: shrimp scampi, steak, wild mushroom, and Thai chicken are all featured on their pizzas. But, what makes California Pizza Kitchen’s options infinitely more appealing than some of the “innovative” dishes we’ve already seen on this list, is the quality of the ingredients used. It’s much easier to stomach the idea of a club chicken pizza when you’re looking at toppings that include applewood smoked bacon, avocado, wild arugula, torn basil, and Romaine, tossed in lemon-pepper mayo. It really feels like the chain’s put a lot of effort into coming up with something interesting, like a chef actually created these pizzas rather than, say, a marketing team. That’s exactly what you get from California Pizza Kitchen; a big pizza chain but with that indie feel of something special that you and your friends just discovered. The temptation is to keep this little secret to yourselves, but with pizza this good, you should share the secret.
1. MOD Pizza
Now, this is pizza royalty. Founded in 2008 by husband-and-wife Scott and Ally Svenson in Seattle, Washington, MOD Pizza has quickly become not only one of the fastest-growing pizza restaurants around but also one of the most popular. In recent years, the number of locations has grown rapidly across the country and has even expanded across the border to Canada. MOD’s pizzas are as customizable as the ones you’d find in many of today’s pizza restaurants, particularly the likes of Pieology. You can choose your sauce, cheeses, and toppings from a list of over 30, or opt for something off the pre-made menu. Those toppings are nothing short of superb: everything from pesto to roasted broccoli to arugula to Asiago, to romaine – basically anything you could possibly want, all served on beautifully-cooked personal pizzas which, get this, all cost exactly the same amount, no matter how many toppings you throw on top. A family-friendly, DIY vibe that is still somehow a big chain and yet personal enough that it feels as though it’s an innovative, independent restaurant. All these things go into making MOD pizza a truly great pizza restaurant. To seal the deal, MOD is also an ethical company that takes not just quality but also environmental impact and animal ethics into consideration when sourcing their ingredients. It’s also known for treating its workers well and hiring staff with special needs, as well as those who have been incarcerated in the past. A good heart and good pizza, what more could you ask for? MOD is the best pizza place out there today, and that’s all we have to say about it.