Review: Steak & Cheese Pizza from Papa John’s

When Papa John’s came out with a Steak & Cheese pizza a couple weeks ago, I was curious to see if it would live up to the excellent Dominos version that’s been around for years. Come to think of it, I’ve had a lot of great Philly Cheese Steak pizzas. The classic combination of steak, gooey cheese, onions and peppers is a natural fit because many of us use these ingredients as toppings anyway. That’s why I was surprised to see a couple of glaring topping exclusions on the Steak & Cheese Pizza from Papa John’ (1)Where are the onions and green peppers? Apparently, there aren’t any. According to Papa John’s &-laden description of their pizza:

Signature hand tossed crust covered with pizza sauce & creamy garlic Parmesan sauces, layered with marinated steak slices & 100% real cheese made from Mozzarella & Italian seasoning.

No onions and peppers. A reversal of the words “cheese” and “steak.” No “Philly” in the name. Parmesan sauce and Italian seasoning. This makes me wonder – is Papa John’s even trying for a Philly Cheese Steak taste? Maybe I saw “steak” and “cheese” in the title and immediately made the jump to the iconic sandwich, when in fact Papa John’s simply meant what they said: this is a pizza, with steak and cheese on it.

photo (4)With this in mind, I went into this pizza without Philly Cheese Steak expectations. But even as a Pizza With Steak and Cheese On It, I would still call this a run-of-the-mill. By itself, the steak was savory, marinated and everything it professed to be, but on the pizza as a whole, while I caught the occasional nugget of chewy steak texture, I couldn’t taste the steak over the overwhelming mass of cheese. If all the ingredients on this pizza were at a party, the steak would be the person awkwardly standing by the wall, trying to blend in. The Italian seasoning was very present. It kind of clumped together into greasy-grainy flavor balls in places, but it awakened my taste buds in such a deliciously garlic way that I forgave it. The sauce and crust, as always, were good (although as a pizza sauce fiend, I would like to have seen more sauce).photo (7) collageThe Steak & Cheese Pizza from Papa John’s suffers from an identity crisis. Is this a Philly Cheese Steak pizza or not? I’m thinking probably not. But even as a pizza with steak and cheese on it, it’s just alright. Think of a pepperoni pizza, and the way the pepperoni pops with flavor. The steak on this pizza lacks that singularity, that distinct pizzazz that makes you think “Mmm, grilled steak.” If you were to give me this pizza blindfolded, I would tell you it’s a mediocre slice of generic pizza, with some sort of meat on it. At $11.75 for a large, this is still a decent value. But if you’re looking for a standout grilled steak taste, you might want to look elsewhere.

Pros: Good cheese. Tangy sauce. Chewy crust.

Cons: No distinct steak flavor. Too much cheese. Not enough sauce.

Taste: 5.75/10
Value: 7.25/10
Price: $11.75

Overall GrubGrade: 5.75/10

More Info:
Nutrition Facts:
Small slice - 230 calories
Medium slice - 240 calories
Large slice - 340 calories

15 comments on “Review: Steak & Cheese Pizza from Papa John’s

  1. Jordan says:

    I love your reviews and look forward to each of them. However, I have to respectively disagree on this one. I actually LOVED the Steak & Cheese Pizza from Papa John’s! I thought the taste of the steak and overall combination of ingredients was exceptional and my particular pie had an exceedingly amount of tender steak pizza. There’s always going to be a bad apple in the tree and I’m thinking you just picked the wrong one. You should definitely give this one a try again!

  2. Alex K. says:

    Papa Johns just sucks period. I remember just a couple weeks ago, I got “John’s Favorite” or whatever it’s called … it was thirteen bucks for a large. It tasted mediocre at best, and the price only made me regret it more. Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, and especially Domino’s, are three chains that do pizza much, much better… and for a better price.

    That’s my useless opinion.

    • Crysta says:

      All four of those chains are around the same price point and have the same crappy pizza. Typical fast food, greasy pizza with too much bread and hardly any flavor.

      If I’m spending that much money on a pizza from a chain, I’m going to Marco’s.

  3. Jenne says:

    Truth be told, REAL Philly cheesesteak does NOT normally contain peppers..and onions (wit or witout) or always optional. It is ribeye and cheez whiz usually. Having said all that, I’ve never been a fan of Papa John’s crusts anyhow, and since our only one isn’t conveniently located, I’ll probably never try it.

    • Kyle says:

      u should DEFINITLEY make a little time to go out of your way and get the Dominos philly cheesteak pizza, and get it on thin and crunchy crust. maybe have them put some Jalepenos on it if u like it caliente. u will NOT be dissapointed either way. best pizza from a chain out there

  4. M86 says:

    It seems weird to have red pizza sauce on it… And no onions and peppers seems odd too. Thanks for taking one for the team.

  5. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Went on the website and started an order for this that had the option of extra toppings.. so I assume peppers and onions can be added. Not a fan of papa john’s, so I didn’t complete the order, but just a possible option if people want to try that.

  6. Ryan says:

    I’d put chewy crust as a con in my book. I’m not sure if Papa John’s crust has changed much over the last 10 years or maybe it’s just my taste for it, but I’m liking it less and less over time. The crust just seems overly dense and flavorless and while Domino’s uses a Provolone crust on their Philly Cheesesteak pizza, PJ’s just has the same old thing. The garlic butter for dipping is put in to good use though and that’s its saving grace. Papa John’s used to be my #1 out of the Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut Battle and over the last 3 Papa John’s grubbing sessions, I’ve found my taste for it falling to number 2 and Domino’s taking the lead. That last thought kinda rounds out pizza in my life in general. I keep going back to the well and ordering Papa John’s even though I’m not liking it as much these days… but pizza is pizza… except Pizza Hut pizza, that stuff is nasty.

    • Jay says:

      Agreed on Pizza Hut but on the crust issue I think that any pizza boxed for more then a few minutes gets chewy. The condensation in the box is no friend of pizza in general and very unkind to most pizza crust with very few exceptions.

  7. PetrifiedWoody says:

    Is PetrifiedWoody now persona-non-grata?

  8. Sam says:

    I haven’t had a ton of Papa John’s lately so I’m hesitant to judge based on this one pizza, but typically for me it’s #1 Pizza Hut, #2 Domino’s and #3 Papa John’s. If you have an oven, though, Papa Murphy’s is the way to go. It’s the best.

  9. Forte says:

    Too much cheese? No such thing at the Papa Johns near me. Even ordering extra cheese, they hardly put any on. You can see straight through it to the crust!

  10. Alek says:

    I hate pizza chains pizzerias (pizza hut, papa johns, dominoes) and frozen pizzas. Kashi pizzas are an exception to the frozen pizza category I love the individual owned pizzerias in NYC and I live in NYC. They are so much fresher and tastier the hot cheese pizzas is to die for. Even the $1 pizza slices in the pizzerias are really tasty

  11. Tom says:

    Any time you see Philly cheesesteak and it has green peppers, then it’s completely fake. Philly cheesesteaks do not have peppers. Onions, almost always. Never peppers. So I applaud PJs for getting at least that right. I’ll have to try it sometime. I do like PJs pizzas over Dominos.

  12. […] year we reviewed the Steak & Cheese Pizza from Papa John’s and this year there’s a new Philly Cheesesteak Pizza.  Is this a case […]

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