POSTED ON JUNE 10, 2009:
Easy, affordable pre-made pizza pies are all the rage
DIY. Maciuk said this style of pizza is popular because it's easy and since it is baked at home, the pizza can be served piping hot right out of the oven.
Busy lifestyles have helped propel the take'n'bake food industry. It's a rare luxury for many to find the time and energy to prepare a homemade pizza from scratch for a weeknight dinner. Pick up and take home meals remain popular these days; and now with Papa Murphy's in the neighborhood, fresh pizza can be out of the oven and on the dining room table in no time.
The concept is simple: call in an order or come in to place an order, take home the raw prepared pizza, bake and eat.
It's also very affordable. Eric Maciuk, manager of two area locations, explained that the price is less because the overhead is less: no ovens, dining room furniture, less space, no wait staff and no deliveries (eliminating the high cost of liability insurance). The savings is passed to the customer in the prices; for example, the most expensive pizza is a 5-Meat Stuffed pizza for $15.99.
But, is the pizza any good? A sampling of four Papa Murphy's pizzas proved it is a contender with others in the world of chain pizzas. It withstood the test of a pizza loving family.
Papa Murphy's offers a handsome variety of raw, take-home pizzas. Menu choices include: Signature Pizzas (pizzas with various ingredient combos with traditional tomato sauce), Custom Pizzas (customers mix and match fresh ingredients to their preference), Stuffed Pizzas (two layers of dough stuffed with various toppings), Gourmet Pizza (a sauce of creamy garlic sauce mixed with Ranch dressing and selected toppings) and Thin Crust deLITE (crispy thin crust with 40 percent fewer calories and 30 percent less fat). Pizzas come in 12-(small), 14- (large), and 16-inch (family) sizes.
Maciuk said this style of pizza is popular because it is baked at home, meaning the pizza can be served piping hot right out of the oven. That's what I discovered when I called in an order for four pizzas: large Murphy's Combination ($12.99), large Italian Sausage Custom Pizza ($9.99), Chicago-Style Stuffed ($13.99) and Chicken Bacon Artichoke deLITE ($9.99). I picked up the pizzas at the drive-through window and headed home. The pizzas are loosely wrapped in clear plastic wrap with a menu and baking instructions on the back.
Upon arrival, I followed the easy baking instructions and sat back to wait while savory aromas filled the house.
Our first pizza was the deLITE. The thin and crispy crust had a coating of creamy garlic-ranch dressing sauce and supported all the fresh-tasting toppings: grilled chicken, crispy bacon, marinated artichoke hearts, spinach and thickly grated Parmesan cheese. A mix of Italian herbs was sprinkled across the top of the pizza as a final touch. Very thinly cut and crispy fried bacon had a light smokiness. The healthy amount of toppings for this deLITE pizza seemed contradictory. It was laden with tender chopped chicken. The edges of crust were noticeably crispy. (This pizza was exceptionally good even the next day--cold, right from the fridge.)
The Murphy's Combination pizza had a thicker crust with a generous layer of toppings: overlapping layers of large, paper-thin sliced pepperoni, loads of sliced black olives, chunks of Italian sausage with fennel, thinly sliced mushrooms, and plenty of mozzarella cheese. The quality of ingredients and the freshness was memorable.
Next, the Stuffed pizza definitely made an impression in look and taste. It baked to a stately two-three inches tall on the edges, which were slightly browned and delicately crisp. Inside, the pizza had premium Salami, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Ground Beef, Mixed Onions, Roma Tomatoes, Traditional Pizza Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese--nearly one pound of cheese. This pizza was an enormous success all around. It wasn't too heavy, either; both top and bottom crusts were light providing a suitable enclosure for all the ingredients.
The Italian Sausage Custom Pizza was basic and heavy on the cheese. The sausage used on Papa Murphy's pizzas is said to be specially prepared and aged, which provides a zesty flavor and captures the taste of authentic Italian sausage. Fennel was a dominant spice in the sausage.
Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza's pedigree is traced to Hillsboro, Oregon, with two West Coast take-and-bake operators, Murphy's Pizza of Petaluma, California, and Papa Aldo's of Portland. The two combined forces to create Papa Murphy's. Since 1981, this "take and bake" pizza has exploded to its current craze status as a multi-million dollar industry across the country and Canada. And now Tulsans can take'n'bake as well.
Maciuk, manager of two of four Papa Murphy's area locations, 51st and Sheridan and 111th and Memorial, (Owasso and Broken Arrow also have stores). Maciuk said it's a great way to eat. "Call ahead, come in, preheat oven, bake and eat.
"We use only the best ingredients, such as Dole pineapples, Lindsay Olives, and produce from local vendors. The crust is made in-house daily with the basic ingredients--flour, yeast and water," he adds. We found the crust to be good, but ordinary.
Service at Papa Murphy's entails the bare minimum of someone taking your order (in person or on the phone) and then someone checking out the order. Both ends of this service were quick and easy, and with a genuine friendliness. Upon picking up my order, I was encouraged to phone them should I have questions with the baking of my pies. My skills were sufficient for the task.
Papa Murphy's also has Cheesy Bread ($3.99), Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ($3.99) in a 16-ounce tub (while the oven is hot, pop in a few cookies for dessert), Calzone ($9.99, $11.99) and Salads.
Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza
6147 E. 51st St.
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