Review: Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Pizza from Papa John’s
A few years ago I attended a “Blogger Day” event at Domino’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When I had the opportunity to get back in the test kitchen and create my own pizza, a Buffalo Chicken Kickers Pizza seemed like an excellent idea. This pizza idea of mine had been circling my feeble brain for years and it was one of those “why haven’t they done that yet!” types of thoughts. As it turned out, there were no Chicken Kickers to be found in the test kitchen and I ended up making a Mediterranean pizza with grilled chicken. An opportunity lost and the Chicken Kickers at Domino’s are different (not as good) now. Enter Papa John’s… Could the new Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Pizza from Papa John’s be the one to make me forget about Domino’s failed attempt at a no-brainer killer pizza? Let’s review.
Papa John’s describes their Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Pizza like this:
Featuring creamy chipotle sauce, sliced Chicken Poppers, smoky bacon, fresh Roma tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese and 100% real cheese made from mozzarella.
The idea is quite simple. Every company takes existing products and does a grub mash-up these days and markets them as “new”. Oftentimes these products suffer from being lazy and uninspired, but from a business standpoint, it seems to be an effective strategy to keep the menu somewhat fresh. The Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Pizza takes an existing product in Chicken Poppers and features them prominently while also adding a chipotle sauce base. On paper, this looked like a winner.
My large Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Pizza was priced at $11.00 for the current promotion. Each slice of my pizza was balanced with every ingredient perfectly and I’d have to say a generous amount of Chicken Poppers throughout. The flavor is mostly dominated by the chipotle sauce which has a vinegary tinge and is quite pronounced with smokiness. I’d really hesitate to say there was much of any spicy quality going on as its a pretty mild sauce on the heat scale. The smell of the chipotle sauce is strong enough to be noticeable as I’m signing my receipt with the delivery driver standing there. I wasn’t really crazy about the chipotle sauce flavor on first bite, yet it grew on me with every bite thereafter. Second to the chipotle sauce in flavor impact would have to be, surprisingly, the cheddar cheese. The blend of cheddar added in with the mozzarella was pretty noticeable and gave the pizza a more robust taste.
The salty bacon seemed to be a little chunky in some spots and interspersed with the big morsels of diced Chicken Poppers made for a heavy, filling pizza. The Chicken Poppers as a pizza topping is something I was obviously happy about, but the only problem with that is Papa John’s Chicken Poppers are quite plain. Chicken Poppers struggle without dipping sauce as a side item and their plain taste seemed to stand out a little bit as a pizza topping.
Of course the Chicken Poppers are surrounded by a sea of cheese, bacon and chipotle sauce so that helps. The problem here is that if you get a big bite of Chicken Popper, it doesn’t have much flavor impact since there’s nothing special about the basic breading. This is where I think the old Domino’s Buffalo Chicken Kickers would’ve excelled since they had a buffalo sauce seasoned exterior. Roma tomato pieces provide for a little juicy texture change so they were able to be noticed amongst the duo of meats and strength of chipotle sauce. The weight of the toppings proved to be not at all skimpy. I can normally take down more than half of a large Papa John’s pizza without hesitation, but I found myself feeling satisfied by around the end of slice number three. From just a taste standpoint, I think slice three is also where I tapped out with growing tired of the chipotle sauce.
In closing, if the variety of another pizza was within reach, the Chipotle Chicken & Bacon seems like it would make a nice change of pace slice. As an “only pizza option” I feel the Chipotle Chicken & Bacon wouldn’t make the cut of a killer new style. It’s a decent showing and I think it would be a hit for added variety amongst a big pizza order. As a standalone option it started to struggle a little after a few slices.
Pros: Great balance of ingredients. Heavy in toppings, chunky morsels. Using your chicken side item as a pizza topping. Garlic butter dipping sauce.
Cons: Started to grow tired of it after slice number three. Chicken Poppers had a good texture and were plentiful, yet don't offer anything interesting in flavor.
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.25/10
Price: $11.00 for a large
Overall GrubGrade: 6.75/10
More Info: http://www.papajohns.com