High End

Crust Pizzeria Napoletana

Low End

Papa John’s Pizza

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A new wave of upper crust pizza places has invaded into Carmel. These are pizza restaurants which are considered to be of higher caliber than more traditional delivery and carry-out options. To see if this held true, I decided to try out the new Crust pizzeria to uncover if it was deserving of this perception. The stigma was well deserved. The brick oven made pizza was delicious and surprising affordable, however, the restaurant was rather desolate.

The atmosphere at the Crust location at 840 W. Main St was unassuming. I immediately noticed the restaurant was practically empty, which worried me, but the staff was kind and the service was helpful. The menu was easy to understand and any questions I had were quickly answered. I ordered the chicken pesto pizza, which is made up of roasted chicken, artichokes, roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto sauce. The cost was $15 for a 12-inch pizza.

The pizza is made in a stone oven, which is unique in the pizza industry today. This is of the utmost importance; the use of a stone oven gives the pizza many advantages over pizza made in a regular oven. Stone ovens have been used as far back as the Ancient Egyptians. The benefits of stone ovens include faster cooking time, smoky flavor, crunchy toppings and deliciously crisp crust. This certainly proved to be true for Crust. The pizza was made quickly, and as I devoured slice after slice, I was bombarded by the crunchy texture of the toppings and crust. The pesto and chicken formed a tangy duo and went well with the thin crust. The crust was a little flaky, but still had a desirable crunch. The toppings were all fresh; the pizza was full of flavor.

Overall, Crust proved to be a pleasant surprise. The pizza was tasty and the service was excellent in the sparingly populated restaurant. It proved to be cheaper than its upper crust status would suggest and serves as an example of delicious new style pizzerias.

A chain brand rooted in the past. Papa John’s has been a staple of the delivery pizza brand for years and has locations throughout the United States. It has been a classic takeout and delivery option for Carmel citizens for many years. It has been neglected recently in favor of new pizza restaurants such as Crust. I wanted to see if Papa John’s was worthy of being replaced in the pizza hierarchy. Ultimately, Papa John’s has weaker pizza than new chains, but it’s availability should allow the chain to stick around.

The Papa John’s restaurant at 2001 E. Greyhound Pass is miniscule and established the atmosphere that delivery and take out are the main purposes of the store. However, Papa John’s also offers the ability to order the pizza over the phone, on their website and on their app. This versatility certainly makes it easier to acquire the pizza since their are many methods of receiving and ordering a pizza. I decided to ordered a medium original crust Hawaiian barbeque chicken pizza. The cost was $15 for a 12 inch pizza.

There was a wide variety of options to choose from with numerous topping, sauce and crust options. Every imaginable combination was at my fingertips and I was able to order the pizza beforehand so it was ready immediately as I arrived at the store. However, by the time I arrived home, the pizza had already lost some of its freshness, which was unfortunate. Regardless, the pizza was fundamentally solid. The interesting combination of pineapple and barbecue sauce materialized as a tangy and sweet partnership. The toppings were fairly fresh and the crust was abundant and chewy. The sauce was a little overwhelming and the pizza could have used more cheese to overset it. The crust was thick and had good texture, but it lacked the crunch of a brick oven crust.

Overall, the pizza was solid, if unspectacular. The allure of this fast-food option style pizza is the ability to order and eat the pizza in the comfort of your own home. The pizza itself will not blow you away, but it is certainly serviceable. However, while the prices of Crust and Papa John’s are comparable, the Crust pizza and service are significantly superior. It is fair to expect Papa John’s to survive in its niche as a delivery pizza option, but other pizzerias have certainly passed it in quality.

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