Ty's Diner - Wichita
Whiskey Review: Ole Smoky Amaretto

Food Review: Papa John's new Papa Bowls

Papa John's new Papa Bowls
The 'Bowls' get packaged in a small pizza box for travel.

By Mike Thayer

Without question, pizza is my favorite food, but it comes at a high carb price.  So when Papa John's first announced this new addition to the menu in August, I got excited.  Pizza toppings, in a bowl?  That's a must try!  I've been trying to stay low carb aside from having a burger bun a day and fries during this Burger Challenge I've been conducting, so this pizza toppings in a bowl thing would seem to fit nicely in the second meal of a two meals a day regimen. 

Here's the description from the Papa John's website:

Papa John's Papa Bowl
The 'Bowl' is packed inside a sleeve, then packed in the box for transport.

Starting at $7.99

No crust. Just your favorite toppings in a bowl. Delicious vegetables, savory meats, cheeses, and signature sauces baked to perfection. Choose from our carefully crafted bowls or create your own. 

Papa John's offers four options in ordering their Papa Bowls. 

Option 1: Italian Meats Trio Papa Bowl.   Pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, and veggies topped with three cheeses and Italian seasoning, baked to perfection in our signature pizza sauce.

Papa Bowl Italian Meats Trio Trio
Note the lopsided presentation, no biggie, it happened during travel and there was no spillage, kudos to the packaging.

Option 2:  Garden Veggie Papa Bowl.  Spinach, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and banana peppers baked in a bowl with our original sauce, cheese, and Italian seasoning.

Option 3: Chicken Alfredo Papa Bowl.  Creamy alfredo, grilled chicken, and crisp veggies baked in a bowl with three cheeses and finished with Italian seasoning.

Option 4: Create your own Papa Bowl.

In ordering carry out, I went with the Italian Meats Trio to basically check out how closely these bowls measure up to an actual pizza.  I also wanted a second one, as buying in bulk provides for good leftovers.  For my second 'Bowl', I took a pass on the Garden Veggie, I was tempted by the Chicken Alfredo, but I was inclined to order something more to my pizza liking, going for a "Create your own Papa Bowl."  I went with my favorite pizza toppings, pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and onion.

Papa Bowl Custom
Another lopsided presentation, but more importantly look at the oily, watery reveal...

It didn't take long at all for my order to be ready, I got a text in like 10 minutes saying my order was ready for pickup.  Off to my nearby Papa Johns I went.  I saved about $10 doing that, rather than pay a delivery fee + tip!

The 'Bowls' (they're actually rectangle shaped carry out containers, but what else are you going to call them?  The new Papa John's Carry Out Container Pizza is here!....  Nope, that just doesn't have a ring to it.) are packaged inside a cardboard sleeve, then placed inside a small pizza box for safe travels. 

"But Mike," you say, "Who cares about the packaging, how do they taste?"

Not bad, but the sauce without that crust, becomes a bit watery, if not a tad greasy.  All the classic Papa John's flavors are there, but without a crust present to absorb the moisture from the veggies and the oils from the meats, the sauce just isn't right.  Instead of baking the 'bowl' however they bake it, Papa John's would get a better sauce result if they baked a traditional pizza and scraped the toppings off into the bowl!

The Italian Meats Trio was good, I got the pepperoni, the light spice from the sausage, the meatballs were juicy, the veggies provided a nice balance but underneath that cheese, meat and veggie there was a sauce that comes off as a bit watery and greasy.

I sampled my custom order next, a pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and onion bowl.  I liked this one better, a personal preference thing in how I like a pizza, but there was the same issue.  The sauce is off in the bowl offering.  Without a crust for the sauce to soak and bake into, it comes off as watery from veggies and oily from the meats.  

Costing me $17.18 with tax for the two 'bowls,' I'm giving Papa John's new Papa Bowls 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're reasonably priced, but the taste factor just doesn't have a big enough impact to justify buying again.  More cheese and perhaps a different cooking method before combining all ingredients in the bowl is needed.  It's a nice concept, but as it is right now, it's not worthy of a repeat buy.

3 stars

The Papa John's visited on this occasion for a carry out order is located at 7800 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67207.  The service was fast, friendly and efficient.

$pend Wisely My Friends...


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Nicholas Cosper

It’s not so much a bowl as it’s a thin bit of toppings as if it fell off a single slice of pizza. Kinda underwhelming.

Givanni Signorino

It’s kind of a joke. It doesn’t even reach a half of an inch in the 2 inch baking dish…I’ll never buy it again. BAD IDEA @ Making a carb friendly pizza experience

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