How To Eat Papa Johns' New Pepperoni Crusted Papadia For Maximum Enjoyment

A pepperoni and cheese crusted pizza-quesadilla hybrid. What could go wrong?

Admittedly, I have been out of touch with Papa Johns and its various gastronomic exploits, but catching up on the menu this Halloween weekend feels timely because consider me spooked as hell. I ask you, what the fuck is a Papa Bowl and why do I want one?


One thing that is absolutely not surprising is that Shaq has become involved with the company over the past few years, and that the Shaq-a-Roni Pizza has been added to the menu to honor him. When it comes to brand partnerships, it's death, taxes, and Shaq, man. Hey, here's a fun party game I just came up with: List a product that Shaq hasn't endorsed. Loser takes a shot of the now deceased Luv Shaq vodka.

But this is about Papa Johns' non-Shaq-affiliated "Papadias," which I'm reading as "Papa-Johns-Quesadillas." Although, it should be noted that on the website the company seems to be avoiding the word "quesadillas" altogether. This Papadias page describes them as being "not just any flatbread sandwich." But, at first glance I fail to see how the Papadia reinvents anything at all.


Papa Johns claims that these pizza-quesadilla hybrids are made with the same signature pizza dough. So, I ask: Isn't this just a piece of pizza folded in half and pressed? What's so special about the Papa Johns Papadia? I'm here to find out, and while there are a ton of Papadia offerings—cheesesteak, buffalo chicken, meatball, Italian, and more—I tried the new Pepperoni Crusted Papadia. That's right, pepperoni crusted folded pizza! Curious? Horrified? Me too, pal.

What Does The Papa Johns Pepperoni Crusted Papadia Taste Like?

Note that I ate this on the trunk of my car with my dog watching from the backseat, which felt like the appropriate manner in which to eat a Papadia. I was at the door right when Papa Johns opened (10 a.m.), a move that I could tell confused the manager, but nonetheless 12 minutes later my Papadia came served piping hot in a school-lunch-esque rectangular cardboard box coffin. I had low expectations for this thing, but I didn't exactly hate it. The Papperoni Crusted Papadia does in fact do something right.


Although it's not flavor, which is predictable. This is low-moisture mozzarella, cheap and funky versions of parmesan, asiago and romano cheese, sodium-filled heartburn pepperoni, and chewy, sweet dough. It's just a Papa Johns pizza—that part isn't surprising or even good. However, I will say that I was quite shocked by the Papadia's wonderfully crisp outer texture.

The outer layer of this pizza/flatbread/whatever is wonderfully crusted with pepperoni and paremsan, and it crisped up nicely in the oven, providing a delightful contrast in texture. Forgive me for saying so, but the outer layer of the Papadia has a sort of Detroit-style pizza crust thing going on. The pepperoni and cheese are not of great quality and should be shot into space, yes, but I love the way these thin little nitrate-filled meat rounds crisp up like a potato chip. They taste like bacon bits, in a way. The crispy brown crust meshes well texturally with the inside of the 'dia, whose mozzarella is delightfully melty and creamy (as low-moisture mozzarella always is), and there's a bit of tartness, too—probably from the faux parmesan, romano, asiago, and fontina blend Papa Johns proudly advertises.


I think my Papadia was supposed to come with marinara on the side for dipping, but this instead came with garlic sauce. So, here I am, at 10:30 on a Friday morning in Los Angeles, dipping my Papadia in cheap soybean oil scented with garlic.

Though I wish this came with the advertised marinara and pepperoncini, I do think the texture of the Papadia does indeed provide something new. The crispy outer texture does feel like a quesadilla seared on a flat top with cheese. This is passable or even good, depending on how stoned you are.

That said, the one-note flavor of the cheese and dough could use a little zip. My favorite low-rent calzone back home has olives and pepperoncini in it. Something thick and doughy requires brininess and heat, in my opinion. So, maybe consider ordering this with some additional toppings inside.

Regardless, don't sit down for this one. The Papa Johns Papadia isn't something you bring home through the front door. It's not something you want to be seen walking around with, either. Some foods that are meant to be eaten right there on the trunk of a car with your dog judging you.