Other. The big names got that way by pandering to the lowest common denominator - sugar, grease and carbo's. There are greasy spoons or greek coffehouses, but when one goes to a small place that takes pride in good, fresh, ingredients, hand made, then it is a little bit of heaven.
BTW, I can't get the pizzas that I really like here - those made in Italy or Croatia. A thin, oven made pizza with real olives and Dalmation prosciutto - manga.
Local is usually better if for no other reason than they use only yeast as the leavening agent in their dough. But there are so many more good reasons. Of the nationals, I like Papa Murphy's the best.
I prefer the small businesses over the big names. You can taste the freshness which is amazing :)
Yes California Pizza Kitchen......
That is one of only two national chains I like. The other is Rosati's. It's from Chicago. I used to work there. Have you ever heard of it?
By the way, my usual at CPK is a large with pepperoni, sweet peppers, red onions, and eggplant. I tell them to use the normal amount of sauce but only just enough cheese to cover up the sauce, and I want some red showing. Then I tell them to go easy on the pepperoni too but put the normal amount of the others. It is a four-topping pie after all.
I also have a fetish for eating pizza and pasta together. When I make pizzas at home I'll often take the extra 20 minutes it takes to cook some pasta and either fry up a sausage or throw some impromptu meatballs together or something so I can enjoy two of my favorite foods together. Likewise, at CPK I love the spaghetti bolognese, linguini with clams, (sometimes I get it with spaghetti. It's good.) and the four-cheese ravioli is heavenly.
What's your usual? Everyone who likes CPK has a usual.
Honestly I'm a pizza snob. Those aren't really even that edible to me necessarily. No offense to anyone here. I just grew up on really great pizza and that stuff is NOT what pizza is. It's a type of pizza. It's a standardized simplified and cheaper alternative to what I would consider to be real pizza. I make my own pies, and when I do I try to make them like a mom and pop pizza joint in New York, not some standardized formula that's the same in St. Louis, San Francisco, and Cleveland as it is in Atlanta, Chicago, or even NY. I suppose Pizza Hut is the most tolerable, but Domino's is horrible and I cannot even eat Papa John's.
Real pizza has so much more flavor than any of those. The only two nat'l chains I like are California Pizza Kitchen and Rosati's. And Rosati's is still very small. I will occasionally have a Sbarro's slice at the mall if it's fresh too. I'm very happy to hear you say the mom and pop joints are the best, because they use better ingredients, fresher ingredients, vastly superior technique, better ovens, (Real pizza ovens. With fire. Not a metal box with a gas pilot.) better flour, pay more attention because they have to, and customize your pie to your exact instructions. Real pizza doesn't have three pounds of cheese piled on it and another pound of pepperoni and a pound of other toppings. Real Pizza isn't standardized and made according to a strict formula without deviation. Real pizza has a crust that you could eat by itself. You want to eat the crust at the end. The crust is supposed to be slightly crunchy on the outside but soft, chewy, and hot on the inside. There's supposed to be enough cheese and sauce to cover the pie but not much more than that. There are supposed to be fresh high-quality toppings.
If you have a place like that in your town, then that's the place that deserves your business. Not the one that treats you like just another one of the masses ordering just another number thirty-six. You deserve better than that. So do we all. We shouldn't have to accept barely-passable food as the norm. We don't have to let that be our standard. And if we stand up against it and get a real pizza rather than going to Pizza Hut or patronizing that hamburger joint a few miles away with the killer hamburgers and fries. Their shakes aren't half bad either, are they? You know what I'm talking about, right? I bet you do. We should support local business that are maintaining a high standard for our communities. Without them We'd be eating at McDonald's and Domino's all the time.
Beer Barrel Pizza. Its a regional thing around here.