Pizza Challenge Update: Who has the best pizza in the Wichita Metro area? Is it Pizza John's in Derby?
By Mike Thayer
Pizza is my favorite food. Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie.... That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside. Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper. The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite. And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!
No national chains will be included in this challenge. Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify. Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best. The fact is, the local/regional joints run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.
During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.
Today's taste test: Pizza John's in Derby
The pizza 'foundation' for this challenge is a supreme style of pizza - meat and veggie toppings. In order to do a fair evaluation of all pizza joints, the choice of toppings has to be as similar as possible. Pizza John's version of a supreme pizza is classic, featuring pepperoni, sausage, onion, green pepper and mushroom.
With pizza on my 'menu' for lunch, I walked into Pizza John's around 2pm. I was greeted with smiles and a big "Hi There!" from the ladies behind the counter. I let them know I had never eaten at Pizza John's before but heard great things about the place. One of the gals let me know about the special pricing during the lunch hour (until 3pm), a great surprise! I found a table and my order for a small Supreme pizza and a soda to wash it down with was taken right away. I'm thinking, "Awesome, friendly service!"
My soda was quickly delivered and soon thereafter so was my pizza, piping hot and oh did it smell good! Look at the mozzarella, melted to golden, brown perfection. In taking that first bite, it was tasty. The toppings were balanced, nicely portioned and hit all the notes of a classic, supreme pizza. The pie was sauced nicely, not over-sauced, not under-sauced, I'm sounding a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears here.... It was sauced 'just right'. The crust was perfectly baked, golden, brown on the bottom, cooked evenly throughout and crispy on the edges, but if there's a knock on this pizza, it is the crust, which I found to be a bit bland, an average crust. This pizza was good, but I did have to add some black pepper and Parmesan cheese to season things up a bit.
Costing me just $6.77 for a small pizza and a soda, I left Pizza John's quite satisfied. Their small pizza was perfect for lunch and hit the spot. I'm giving Pizza John's in Derby 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. I'm looking forward to my next visit, this first time customer will be a repeat customer!
Pizza John's in Derby is located at 208 S. Baltimore. The service was friendly, fast, professional, the pizza tasty, and just $4.80 for a small pizza? What a deal!