Pizza restaurants continue to be the big cheese and are performing well, despite tough economic conditions. A new report from Mintel shows that pizza restaurants are focusing on “value” in order to draw in patrons and expect to see a modest 2.9% sales increase in 2012.

In order to remain competitive, the average pizza price has remained fairly flat (up only 1%) in the past three years. Restaurants have been making up for it by increasing the price of other menu items, such as vegetables (up 13%), desserts (up 12%), pasta (up 11%) and salad (up 10%).

Salad is the fourth-leading item mentioned on pizza menus, garnering the biggest increase (10%) in the past three years. 

Convenient location, price, speed of service and pizza variety are the four most important factors in determining the choice of a particular pizza restaurant, each with more than 80% agreement among Mintel respondents who have gotten pizza from a restaurant in the past month. However, having ready-made pizza and/or a pizza buffet is enticing, especially to lower-income patrons and those with children, likely for the added-value proposition.

At 38%, thin crust is the most-preferred crust among pizza restaurant-goers. Pan-style and thick crust are nearly even as the second favorite crust types (20% and 19%, respectively). When it comes to toppings, pepperoni is clearly on top at 67%, followed by mushrooms, sausage and onions (53%, 53% and 41%, respectively). Anchovies prove to be a little too fishy for most taste buds with only 5% of pizza patrons wanting them on their pie.