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Break the Chain: Papa John's

I Ate Oklahoma is brought to you in part by:

There is a reason chain restaurants exist. The product is, for the most part, better than awful. It’s consistent from store to store, which is...good?

Mostly, chain restaurants are there because they’re easy and the prices are low, much like customers’ expectations. But we can do better. Putting that money toward locally owned mom-and-pop restaurants is a boon to the local economy and a boon to your taste buds.

It’s time to Break the Chain.

Papa John’s

When people started talking about boycotting Papa John’s Pizza, I was deeply confused. Whatever your feels about “Papa” John Schnatter, I thought we all agreed that the pizza from Papa John’s was wretched. He could be the nicest guy on Earth (he isn’t) and it wouldn’t change my feelings about his pizza, which is absolute garbage.

It’s the pizza I most associate with a chemical fire and I don’t want your mouth to get burned by it, especially when there are so many great little local pizzerias that deserve your attention.

Eagle One Pizza

Eagle One Pizza

eagleonepizza.com

According to Uproxx, Eagle One is the best pizza in Oklahoma. That’s not my opinion, but I’m just a guy who runs a food website in Oklahoma. Regardless, Eagle One Pizza is really good, really straightforward pizza. Which is to say, you’ll like it. Your parents will like it. Your kids will like it. It’s not overly fancy or avant garde. It’s just great pizza and it’s C-H-E-A-P! A large specialty pie is $6.99 when you pick it up. And if you get two, they toss in a free 2 liter of soda or some breadsticks or cinnamon sticks. Big ups to The Greek Pizza, with gyro meat, onions, tomatoes, feta and extra mozzarella piled on top. Great flavor and not too sharp with the feta.

Pizzini’z Pizza

pizzinizpizzas.com

It’s been a minute since I’ve eaten at Pizzini’z, but when I lived in the neighborhood, it was one of my go-to spots. The pizzas are big and they’re all about the two-for-one deal, so you should definitely plan on sharing or clear some space in the fridge for leftovers. Look for my guide to reheating pizza next week. No, really. I know some of you are doing it wrong.

Falcone's Pizzeria

Falcone’s Pizzeria

bestpizzaokc.com

Falcone’s namesake is no longer a part of the business, but that hasn’t stopped the new owners from revitalizing the brand. There’s a supreme pizza on the menu, but for the most part this is a build-your-own kind of place. Crust is New York-style, so look for a foldable slice with a nice chew. Sauce is there for lubrication, but the real focus here is a lot of cheese and plenty of toppings. Head in for some by-the-slice pizza chosen from whatever’s in the case or grab a whole pie to go. You’ll hear no complaints.

Pizza 23

pizza23okc.com

There are plenty of reasons to visit Pizza 23. It’s located on bustling NW 23rd Street with plenty of parking in the rear. The beer selection is pretty great. There’s fro-yo next door if dessert is a concern. But the reason I go is that buttery crust pizza. I can appreciate all different kinds of pies — chewy New York crusts and doughy hand-tossed pizzas and light and lovely thin crusts — but for a crust that is really decadent, you have to try Pizza 23. It’s almost like the pizza is made on biscuit dough.

Papa Angelo's

Papa Angelo’s

papaangelospizza.com

Yes, you can buy Papa Angelo’s pizzas in some local grocery stores, and that’s nice and convenient. But let’s not pretend like your oven is anywhere near as good as the one they have in the shop. This is another New York-style pie, which means you’re getting pizza with a fold in the center and a flop at the end. It’s greasy in the absolute perfect way. My friend Julie and I inadvertently destroyed a medium pepperoni in no time. Ask for the diablo sauce if you’re brave; it really packs a wallop.

Pizza House

Pizza House

pizzahouseoklahoma.com

This hole-in-the-wall serves pizza on a bready dough that’s sturdy enough to hold lots of toppings with a fairly tender medium-thick crust. This is comfort food pizza, to be sure. It’s not interested in breaking down barriers or inventing new flavor combinations. That doesn’t mean it’s boring, though. This pizza is dependable. This pizza has a spare key to your place if you get locked out. One night, you and this pizza might get a little drunk together and make out, but it’s not going to cross a line and make things awkward.

Same deal here as with the Pizza Hut edition of Break the Chain. There are just too many great under-the-radar pizza places to fit in one article, so look for more of your favorite places in a future story.

About the Author

Founder and Eater-in-Chief of I Ate Oklahoma, Greg Elwell has been reviewing restaurants and writing about Oklahoma’s food culture for more than a decade. Where a normal person orders one meal, this guy gets three. He is almost certainly going to die young and those who love him most are fairly ambivalent about it. You can email Greg at greg@iateoklahoma.com.

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