BRISBANE, Australia -- A Choice magazine survey released this month revealed that higher-end pizzas made by independent operators were topped more heavily than comparably named or priced pizzas made by chains or grocers.

According to a report in the Courier-Mail, Choice compared more than 120 fresh and frozen pizzas from Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, Eagle Boys, Pizza Haven, four independent makers and a variety of supermarket brands.

The toppings did not include tomato sauce or cheese, but the survey found the independents' pizzas (which were typically more expensive than the others') were "a lot more generous."

Toppings on pizzas from independents made up more than 25 percent of the total pizza by weight, compared to about 15 percent of pizzas from large chains. And while supermarket pizzas were the least expensive, they also were topped the lightest. Their toppings accounted for about 10 percent of the total pie.

The survey also found that most chain "supreme" pizzas had only one piece of pepperoni per slice, whereas independents had several pieces.

Australian Consumers' Association food policy officer Clare Hughes said the results from the chains were "too close to say that there's any difference" in their overall products.

Steve Hall an independent operator with 30 years of pizza experience, said the most important aspects of toppings were combination, flavor and texture. He also pointed out that, while it's good to have ample toppings, too much can be a problem.

"It will lose the ability to cook properly," said Hall, who owns the Kookaburra Café in Brisbane.

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