Speaking of crappy California pizza... when I worked at Y&R (ad agency, not soap opera) I had so much free California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) that I can't even think about going there... ugh. Why can't CPK or BJs make a pizza without 10 pounds of tomatos on it? How about cheese & meat?? That's what I buy pizza for.
As far as chain pizza goes, I'm hopelessly addicted to Round Table's All Meat Marvel. So much grease... so much cholesterol... so tasty. But you have to get it with the grease-passive (thin) crust. If you get grease-retentive (thick) crust, you just end up with a soggy mess.
But the best pizza I've ever had is at Spiro's in Seattle (Shoreline, actually). The same guy also founded Olympia Pizza, which is equally excellent.
The best locally-owned pizza place we have around here is Vincenzo's. Very, very good pizza.
Avoid Papa John's. Terrible pizza. As is Shakey's (although they used to be very good).
Crud. Now I'm all hungry for pizza. Well, I guess I know what I'm doing for dinner tonight.
Mmmm...pizza. Finally a topic I can sink my teeth into.
Agreed, Papa John's is junk. It's too sweet. It tastes like Chef Boyardee stuff.
There are several local pizza places around here that have outstanding offerings. But as far as prepackaged, frozen stuff goes:
Home Run makes a great pizza. It's a medium/thin crust and it tastes like it's been brushed with light olive oil. It's a very tasty crust.
Also the Jack's Naturally Rising pizzas are really good. The deluxe version is great.
And what about garlic bread? The best kind is a slab of bread that you order by the slice. It's about an inch thick, 3" tall and about 6" - 7" long. It comes to your table in a wax paper lined basket and it's drenched in a buttery mixture that pools up in the bottom of the wax paper. Just looking at it makes your arteries harden...but what a way to go!
I'm a big fan of Papa Murphy's Take & Bake stuff. You can use it as a template for cheap and then add your own toppings. We have a few great local pizza places like Blind Onion Pizza, Blue Moon Pizza and JJ's Pie Company, if anybody is ever in the area.
As far as chain's go, I think I usually go with Pizza Hut or Round Table, but cheap pizza is kinda all the same to me.
But I pretty much just make cheap french bread pizza at home.
Patrick's Cheap & Easy French Bread Pizza: $.99 loaf of french bread from your local Safeway/Grocery Store 1 red bell pepper 1 green bell pepper 1 package fresh mushrooms or 1 can sliced mushrooms 1 can of sliced olives 1 package of your favorite pepperoni 1 jar of your favorite pizza sauce 1 bag of your favorite mozzarella
Cut the loaf in half, spread sauce, sprinkle cheese, add toppings, top with cheese, bake at 375¨? for 15-20 minutes depending on elevation.