Papa Del’s has been an institution in Champaign since the first store opened in 1970 on the corner of Wright and Healey where Jerusalem Middle Eastern Cuisine is now.
Most students know Papa Del’s from its Green Street location, which was always tightly packed with people and smelled like the pizza being cooked on the second floor.
After it moved to its larger location on Neil Street, Papa Del’s closed its other location at the Crossing in Champaign. Students required some extra dedication to get a slice – it wasn’t as easy to just drop in on the way home.
But with added delivery and high pizza quality, that extra effort is justifiable. Papa Del’s is also one of the only places on campus that serves Chicago-style deep dish, even though the crust is more wheat than traditional cornmeal.
By the slice, Papa Del’s is still an economical option – the Original Pan Pizza with cheese is $2.75 – as long as you get there between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Slices are sold half-price for the last hour until they’re sold out.
Papa Del’s also offers almost as much variety as a standard chain. The restaurant offers 16 toppings, which are unlimited for an extra charge, and three different types of pizza.
The deep dish pan is traditional and filling. The All American Thin is great for anyone looking for less crust and more toppings. Both options are great for serving a crowd, as they can be ordered as a 17” “Party Size.”
A standout at Papa Del’s is the Super Stuffed – a deep dish filled with cheddar, mozzarella and one topping of your choice. It’s then covered with another, thinner crust and a layer of thick tomato sauce.
Fans of Giordano’s will appreciate this variation, especially because the additional crust keeps the delicious cheese, toppings (or fillings, in this case) and sauce in place. Even though any topping can be used, spinach is the best for balancing out the other heavier flavors.
Even though Papa Del’s may not be as close as it used to be, it’s still close to C-U’s heart, so it’s no surprise that it’s been rated best in the area for over 40 years.