REVIEW: Papa John’s Papadias

Papa John s Meatball Pepperoni Papadia

Update 9/21/20: We also reviewed the Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia.

While your favorite pizza chain is still 2000 and late by adding more things to the crust, my favorite pizza chain – Papa John’s – is doing the most with its new Papadias. Inspired by the piadina, a Northern Italy flatbread sandwich, these were tested back in July and clearly did well enough to be launched nationwide. Thank you, test markets!

I was surprised to see ALL four varieties (Italian, Philly Cheesesteak, Grilled BBQ Chicken & Bacon, Meatball Pepperoni) made it through, but I’m making an educated guess the Philly Cheesesteak was the crowd favorite because it’s the hero image on all posters, website, etc.

I’m going to cut right to the chase; these part pizza, part sandwich phenoms are legit! I have eaten many a Subway flatbread sandwiches and it simply can’t compare to flatbread created with Papa John’s fresh, never frozen dough that has a fantastic springiness to it.

I can see why this portable form would work well for lunch. Thanks to the uniform fold-over, it was really easy to hold and didn’t come undone. There was no chance of me accidentally eating more of the top than the bottom and making a mess. Additionally, there wasn’t much oil residue on my fingers – just the tolerable, manageable dustiness that comes with eating pizza.

I was also very impressed by the amount of food for $6 each. It was one of the rare times that the press photos actually mirrored the size of the food in real life!

Here’s my ranking, in order of would order/eat again to likely would not order/eat again:

Meatball Pepperoni

Spicy meatballs, pepperoni, pizza sauce, mozzarella, and classic Italian seasoning. Served with a Pizza sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Meatball Pepperoni Papadia Box

I didn’t want to put this one down. I don’t usually order meatballs as a topping at Papa John’s, so I was a blank slate on this one. I found that the beef and pork meatballs had good flavor and a pleasant overall texture – easy to bite into without weird tough bits or strange gamey-ness. And the pepperoni complemented these very well!

Papa John s Meatball Pepperoni Papadia 2

The meatballs were also cut in half, which helped with the distribution – I always had bites with meatball and/or pepperoni – and ensured that it all stayed in the flatbread. I was a bit disappointed the meatballs weren’t actually spicy though. On the bright side, no need for Alka-Seltzer! Spicy meatball reference, anyone? Overall, this Papadia had all the tastiness of a meatball sub without any of the messiness.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 950 calories, 50 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 2460 milligrams of sodium, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 42 grams of protein.

Grilled BBQ Chicken & Bacon

Grilled chicken, bacon, fresh-cut onions, and mozzarella. It’s drizzled with sweet and smoky BBQ Sauce. Served with a BBQ sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Grilled BBQ Chicken  Bacon Papadia Box

What I noticed immediately about this one was the smell. The BBQ sauce was quite pungent, but it was welcomed! The plethora of sweet and smoky BBQ sauce was well-balanced with the mild mozzarella, savory bacon, and sharp onion strips. The first thing that came to mind was that it reminded me of a Carl’s Jr Western Bacon Cheeseburger except way easier to eat. Again, I can get a version of another favorite with LESS MESS? YAS.

Papa John s Grilled BBQ Chicken  Bacon Papadia

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 880 calories, 30 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 165 milligrams of cholesterol, 2630 milligrams of sodium, 91 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 59 grams of protein.

Italian

Alfredo sauce, spicy Italian sausage, salami, mozzarella, and banana peppers. Served with a Pizza sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Italian Papadia Box

I LOVE Italian sandwiches because of the nuanced cold cut meat flavors balanced by the fresh crunch of banana peppers. The Papadia interpretation lost me a little bit because by having it all warm/cooked, the flavors and textures blended together too much.

Papa John s Italian Papadia

It blended so much so that I didn’t even realize there was Alfredo sauce! Furthermore, the salami and spicy Italian sausage melded together so much that the salami flavor couldn’t be discerned. And once again, no heat. Luckily, I was able to get some fuego from the standard pepperoncini fixin’ on the side. From a texture perspective, I could definitely taste the tangy banana pepper, but I wanted that added crunch!

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 960 calories, 55 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 2760 milligrams of sodium, 77 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 38 grams of protein.

Philly Cheesesteak

Sliced Philly steak, fresh-cut onions, green peppers, mozzarella, and the chain’s Philly sauce. Served with a Garlic sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Philly Cheesesteak Papadia Box

The flavor was unmistakably a Philly cheesesteak with that green bell pepper and onion-forward flavor. However, my biggest gripe was the texture of the “sliced” Philly steak. Sliced is in quotes because it felt like ground beef and I couldn’t get past that. I’m no Philadelphian, but even I know that’s blasphemy! The flavor couldn’t make up for the faux pas on texture. However, even if the texture was right, it still would not leap frog the other flavors in tastiness.

Papa John s Philly Cheesesteak Papadia

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 850 calories, 39 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 2180 milligrams of sodium, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 40 grams of protein.

Grilled Buffalo Chicken

Papa John's Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia

(Added 9/21/20)

Grilled chicken, onions, signature cheese, and three-cheese blend, buttermilk ranch buffalo sauce. Served with a ranch dipping cup.

The latest Papadia to hit the menu is a Buffalo chicken flavored one. It’s inspired by Buffalo wings, but it needed way more tangy heat to deliver on that! The sparse dabs of Buffalo sauce reminded me of pepperoni grease pools. But obviously, there’s no pepperoni.

The cheese was the dominant flavor. The cheese blend and ranch reminded me of alfredo sauce, which is tasty but a far cry from saucy wings. This was all without dipping it in the ranch sauce, so I didn’t bother with the extra cup on the side.

Papa John's Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia Split

There were also pretty visible slices of onion. But, like the grilled chicken, it took a secondary flavor seat to all the cheese.

The Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia is a safe choice if you can’t decide what to get but want something reliably tasty. But don’t go in expecting big Buffalo flavor.

I would tell you to try it soon, but it isn’t clear if this flavor is being offered only for a limited time or if just the $6 pricing is limited until 10/25.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 910 calories, 39 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 165 milligrams of cholesterol, 2860 milligrams of sodium, 77 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 62 grams of protein.

Besides personal preference on flavors and textures, the only thing I thought was gratuitous across the board was the sauce on the side. All of the Papadias were really well-sauced and didn’t need any extra love.

Given the tastiness and viability of this innovation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Hutadias or Domdias soon.

Papa John s Papadias

Purchased Price: $6 each

27 thoughts to “REVIEW: Papa John’s Papadias”

    1. The app lets you put a max of three toppings in one. So, if you wanted a steakless Philly, you can remove it and add the veggie of your choice. I’ve had the meatball pepperoni twice, and I added salami the second time. So this is not like those Domino’s chef’d up pizzas where they don’t allow substitutions. If your complaint is more about what veggies Papa John’s has to offer, well, I guess this isn’t any help. 🙂

    2. You can make a custom version and just put veggies on it. I got one today and was limited to 2 veggies, but ti was better than the meat version!

  1. I am so jealous you got pepperoncinis in all four boxes!!!! I tried all four yesterday with some coworkers and we were impressed overall. Could have used an extra dipping sauce for each tho because they were a little dry.

  2. The Papadias I ordered from on Potranco Rd. (San Antonio) store was terrible. The philly cheese steak was soggy. I would need a bounty hunter to find the cheese and steak. The papadias is nothing….absolutely nothing like the pictures online.

  3. My wife and I ordered yesterday, my wife was a bit reluctant. We loved them, I had the meatball and pepperoni with spicy meatballs(perfect) and my wife ordered the Italian. She even mentioned more to have today. I also had the jalapeno bites and they were spicy and delicious.

  4. The worst,undercooked,over sauced,soggy,piece of raw dough I have ever had . Nasty! One more reason to hate this chain.

  5. Spouse and I had never eaten a Papa Johns anything. We saw the TV commercial, snd since we are socially distancing, and stores have little in the way of meal makings, decided to try the Papa Johns drive thru and order papadias. We ordered one italian, and one bbq, and sine each was nicely cut in half, we each tried both flavors. They were a welcome treat in a stressful time! Both were delicious, great flavor, and would order them again. It is worrisome that they are not at all “healthy” foods, and exceptionslly high in sodium and cholesterol.

  6. I was greatly disappointed!! As a consumer we always expect the food to look like is does on the commercials. That’s why i decided to give it a try with all the giant green peppers in it, might as well be half vegetarian (sarcasm). I did not like it one bit the crust was burnt, there was little to no meat in it, so i asked where is the steak?? Hmm, there was a speck of mozzarella cheese so i’m shaking my head saying out loud this is horrible i do not like this one bit and the order of jalapeno had wayyyy too many peppers which were overwhelming, i love peppers just not too many of them, did not like those either. Papa Johns need to revamp this sandwich and make it better overall. Until then stop selling because what i got delivered was just awful, and without major changes i will definitely NOT buy this ever again, sorry but not sorry

  7. OK I kept hearing the hype on these. I’ve never ever in my life been to a Papa John’s. I read this review and ZOOOOM my car was off after one. We got the meatball/pepperoni ones to try. We thought the meatball was great – only comment is I read the reviews which said it has sauce inside of it AND a side of sauce. There was no sauce inside it so it was a bit dry and we ran out of “sauce on the side”. Maybe because they are new to making them? I will go again and ask to make sure they put sauce inside it but we thought it was great. They weren’t soggy when we got home, lots of meatballs inside and pepperoni. Really good! Really a lot like a calzone but open on the side. Better than any calzone here in the Dallas area that’s for sure!

  8. If I would have wanted a Toasted bread sandwich……..I would of ordered it. One side of the Papadia had NO steak…..the other side of the Papadia had a few chunks……not even enough to mention. IT is a shame what I paid for these, even with a tip……NOT AGAIN.!!!

  9. I just had the Italian Papadias sandwich. Saying it was a disappointment would be an understatement. The bread was thick, tough, greasy, and overwhelmed the flavor of the sandwich. There was a single slice of salami, two slices of pepperoni, three small pieces of sausage and about 5 pieces of banana pepper skins(no flesh). Salt was the primary flavor of the whole thing. This is the first time I have ever written a comment on a fast food chain, but all I could think of was that I had spent $6.00 for a salty piece of pizza dough. When you can buy a burger that has two pieces of meat and several pieces of bacon for less money, I felt like I had been way over charged. I do not think I will go back. The small cup of pizza sauce and pepperoni pepper was the only good thing about my order.

  10. I am not a Papa John’s fan but after seeing them advertized on TV decided to give them a try. We did delivery and ordered the Philly Cheese Steak Papadias. It arrived hot and was off the chain. Can’t wait to give the other favors a try.

  11. I went excitedly to a PJ to get the full PapaDia. When I got it home and opened it there was barely 1/3 of the fill that one sees in ads. It was terrible. I will not buy again.

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