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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Papa Ray’s [Meeting #106]

Papa Ray's
2551 W. Fullerton Ave (Google Maps)
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 661-2113

CPC crowded into Papa Ray's in the Logan Square neighborhood on November 10, 2011.

We’ve all had pizza-by-the-slice, and to some extent, it’s usually pretty satisfying (more than likely because we’re starving when we get it; on-demand pizza greatly appeals to the under-satiated). The quest for some is to find the best slice they can in that genre to fill the gaps between more refined pizza meals where whole pies are made to order, and generally have greater breadth in topping selection and customization.

One small chain of pizzerias that strives to be the aforementioned go-to for top quality pizza-by-the-slice is Papa Ray’s Pizza & Wings. Founded at the turn of the last decade by George and John Rayyan, Papa Ray’s busted out of the gates with 3 Chicago locations all within a few miles of each other and established in close proximity, timewise. The Chicago Pizza Club visited the Logan Square location on November 10th.

As eluded to above, pizza-by-the-slice is not always the most gratifying food for the discerning palate, and for those who insist on only the best in every aspect (organic, super-fresh and/or exotic ingredients, pristine presentation, delicate proportions, etc.) Papa Ray’s will likely disappoint. However, if you fancy large servings of blue collar, no-frills pizza, this could be the place you hang your proverbial hat.

Potential drawbacks here are the expected inconsistency in freshness of the slices since they can potentially sit uneaten for some time, as well as the caliber of ingredients being appropriate to the genre and price point. As of this writing, you can get a massive slice with a refillable soda for $4.41 after tax. On the evening we went the choices were cheese, sausage, pepperoni, or bacon and the Pizza Club got one (or more) of each and split them up. The meats seemed to be a click or two above what you’d expect for fast food pizza – the sausage was not too rubbery; the pepperoni pretty standard; the bacon actually pretty decent and thick. As for the cheese, nothing about it was outstanding – same pre-packaged stuff you get at the grocery store. The sauce did have a bit of salty/canned flavor, but was more or less benign. The crust is actually pretty good with a pleasant fresh baked essence – one member commented and I thought I overheard “frozen” mentioned.

We shall see what the members had to say, but for the price and convenience, I think Papa Ray’s does a great job. And, if you decide to eat it there, they put that day’s newspaper in a clear plastic holder that spans the length of the counter so you can stay current while stuffing your face (at least, this is true at the Fullerton location).


  1. I'm happy to adjust my expectations based on cost and slice quality, but when a by-the-slice place charges about $5 for a slice and a fountain pop, I think it's reasonable to expect something better than Domino's or Pizza Hut. The factory-made crusts, lackluster sauce and three meats that offered little flavor other than salt were all disappointing. I will not eat here again. Papa Ray's gets a 2 from me.

  2. I could be biased because I was hungry, but according to the scale, edible pizza when you're hungry gets a 4. Maybe they deserve a slightly higher rating since they were cheap had all the hot sauces, especially the Valentina one, but I'll try not to get ahead of myself.


  3. Papa Ray's jumbo slice of cheese pizza is average in taste but will no doubt fill your stomach without breaking your bank. I was initially impressed by their crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside crust. There seemed to be some sort of herb(s) in the crust, as I saw tiny green spots, but it wasn't obvious to me what herb(s) these might have been. The cheese is abundant while the sauce isn't in your face.

    As I neared the final bites of my slice, the crust was no longer crispy, and I was sorry that I was so determined to leave my parchment paper clear of pizza. However, my unsettled stomach may just have been due to volume consumed and not actual quality, or perhaps the small plastic fork tips that went missing!

    Papa Ray's gets a 5, and a word of advice: invest in sturdier plasticware.

  4. The three comments posted to this point all make sense and I generally agree. Having had various by-the-slice offerings, I do think Papa Ray's is better than most, but it has varied in quality between visits. We rate pizza on the scale of all pizzas, not just per genre, so I give Papa Ray's a 5.8 for our visit.

  5. In a city sorely lacking in the Pizza by the Slice department (both in terms of quantity and quality) any place that specializes in slices-to-go is already in my good graces. Papa Ray's offers a good sized slice at a good price, and the taste was exactly what I expected- mediocre ingredients, mediocre pizza, full stomach, on with the night. This is not destination dining, nor is it even the best pizza within a 6 block radius, but the next time I'm hungry and pass by Papa Ray's, I'll probably stop in for a slice. I give Papa Ray's a 4.