The pizza taste test

Updated on 09 November 2012 | 0 Comments

Which of the pizza chains delivered the best pizza in the fastest time, and can you make your own faster? We find out.

The Victorian journalist Count Charles Arrivabene in his 1862 book, Italy under Victor Emmanuel, said: "Pizza is a sort of dry cake made of flour, garlic and oil; a horrid composition of which nevertheless the Italians of the South are particularly fond". Fast forward to today and pizza is a truly global food, topped with just about anything and eaten by just about everyone. So we thought it a worthy contender for a lovefood taste test. 

The pizza

We went for a classic Margherita - tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil - figuring there’s nowhere to hide with that. We also asked for a thin crust, as that’s the most traditional. Members of the lovefood team all made the call at 1pm and we waited to see who'd knock at the door first... Domino's, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, or our local Barbican Express?

The homemade version

To make things a little more interesting and by way of a comparison, I asked James Elliot from Pizza Pilgrims to come in and make his own Margherita in the lovefood studio kitchen. James brought the dough pre-made, but cooked the sauce from scratch. He actually made two pizzas - one on my pizza stone that I brought in, and another in a frying pan that was then finished off under the grill. You can read more about this technique in James’ recipe here. Meanwhile, here he is showing us how to spin the base in the air.

The test

As well as the taste of the actual pizza, we also assessed delivery time and cost as part of our taste test. Nine people took the test, marking each pizza out of 10. And so, without further ado, here are the results... 


Time to arrive


Score out of 90

17 min*



23 min



25 min



25 min



7 min




**Inc £1.95 collection discount

***Cost of raw ingredients, roughly

Pizza 1 came from Barbican Express, a local firm based just around the corner from lovefood HQ. Despite asking for a thin crust they prepared us a thick one. Comments included “huge, quite stodgy"; "very greasy, too thick"; "no flavour"; "cheese is rather rubbery.” However, Emma enthused: “Nice crispy base, lots of cheese, what a takeaway pizza should be!”

Pizza 2 was from Papa Johns and garnered comments including “a bit rubbery, very salty”; “nice and tasty, nice thin base, really lovely”; and “light crust with a tang to it that I can’t place. A bit meaty?”

Pizza 3 came from Dominos and was the most expensive at £12.49. Our panel said of it: “overpowering taste of tomato"; "dull, burnt, rubber-like"; "more like a flat bread"; "nothing special”.

Pizza 4 was ordered from Pizza Hut and got the following comments: “just pure stodge!"; "flavourless"; "light and crispy"; "nothing special"; "a bit greasy but natural flavour.” Also this pizza arrived squashed in the box. 

Pizza 5 stood out like a sore thumb and was made fresh by James in the lovefood kitchen. The panel said: “tasty and natural"; "the best crust"; "very small but super tasty"; "fresh ingredients thin and light”. And lovefood tech team member Giuseppe (who comes from the South of Italy) said of it, “the closest to Italian standards!”

So what have we learned?

What shocked me the most was the cost of these pizzas. Well over £10 for basically bread, tomato sauce and cheese is very poor value for money in my opinion. James’ pizza meanwhile probably cost a couple of quid.

Yes you’ve got to make the dough before, and there’s the energy used I suppose, but a can of basic tomatoes is 31p from Asda, and a bag of cheese around a pound. Then of course there’s ready-made pizzas from the supermarket. You can buy 12 of Asda’s ‘thin & crispy double Margherita’ frozen pizzas for the cost of Domino’s offering. Even the Dr Oetker version (apparently the best selling frozen pizza in Italy, but actually made in Lancashire) is only £2.75. 

Still, part of the reason people opt for takeaway is to off load all the buying, preparing and cooking to someone else. As we’ve seen though, that doesn’t always produce the freshest, tastiest pizza.

Do you order takeaway pizza, buy shop bought, or make your own? Maybe you think they’re good value? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below. 

Broccoli and mozzarella pizza recipe

Turkish style mushroom pizza recipe

Can you beat £680 for takeaway? 

Domino's new Gourmet pizzas put to the test 



Be the first to comment

Do you want to comment on this article? You need to be signed in for this feature

Copyright © All rights reserved.