As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s Pizza has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
For more than 50 years, Round Table Pizza has fired up the appetites of flavor-starved foodies with a host of appetizers, crisp salads, and topping-laden disks. Dough is made from scratch using wheat sourced from the company's family farms, ensuring that the bready foundations of mainstays, such as the barbecue chicken pizza ($17.90 for a medium), are fresh and familiar with agricultural machinery. House creation King Arthur Supreme takes charge of nearby chompers, guiding them through an invasion of pepperoni, italian sausage, salami, linguica, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives, and more ($12.75 for a small). Meanwhile, the Wombo Combo tempts taste buds with crisp bacon, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts, green onions, and a medley of magnanimously portioned meats ($7.30 for a personal size). Inspiration-stricken patrons can design their own pie or swing by the all-you-can-eat salad bar ($5.29) to adorn lush leaves with tasty toppings under the glow of the light bulb growing from their foreheads.
Hot and cold meats pile onto thick hoagie rolls at Tony Baloney?s Submarine Shops, where the flagship submarine sandwiches form an Italian-American trifecta with cheesy pizzas and spaghetti dishes. Throughout its 50-year history, the deli?s secret to success has remained unchanged: keep it simple. Traditional Italian cold cuts, ham and cheese, pastrami, and pepper-steak stand out among a familiar list of sandwich options, and spaghetti and meatballs continues to anchor the dinner menu. Glasses of wine wash down dinner entrees, and pitchers of beer give subs the chance to test their depth limits during lunchtime dives.
When it comes to topping the brick-oven pizzas at family-owned Campelli's Pizza, chefs aren't at a loss for options. After kneading the dough into one of two crust styles, they can sprinkle on diners' choice of more than 30 toppings and sauces, including taco meat, black olives, and garlic-ranch sauce. Those ingredients come prearranged on 10 specialty pies, which complement a seasonally rotating selection of wine and local beer. As meals unfold inside Campelli's spacious dining room, diners may split their attention with the latest sports on 42-inch plasma televisions or take on a friend during rounds of classic board games.
In addition to baking its own savory pies, Campelli's Pizza hosts Make & Bake Parties that let kids make own personal pizzas under the guidance of a Pizza Master. Here, groups of two to 20 kids sculpt their own dough discs during 60–90 minute parties that include a small refillable beverage and enough pepperoni memories to last a lifetime.
This British-inspired gastropub serves up equal parts well-crafted food and casual atmosphere. Basking in the glow of the stone fireplace—or one of 11 flat screens—patrons dine on the likes of bangers and mash, brick-oven pizza, and Wexford steak. Many opt to lounge on the outdoor patio, or in colder weather, in a nice, warm vat of the restaurant's signature mac and cheese. More than 60 beers, hailing from around the world, pour from taps and bottles at the 50-foot bar, while dartboards and pool tables invite bets to be placed on who's picking up the check.
It is not just the pastas, sandwiches, and pizzas that keep guests coming back to Pete's Restaurant and Brewhouse and Original Pete's—the handcrafted beers also play a major role, quenching thirsts with flavors ranging from the Uptown blonde’s light layers of honey to the highly hoppy profile of the Skinner’s Horse IPA. Pete’s team keeps meals in balance by offering food-and-beer-pairing suggestions, assuring diners that the Midtown ale harmonizes with fish tacos and that the Old Town red—a malty, medium-bodied amber ale—improves coordination for slam-dunking meatballs.