Continuing the Italian tradition of pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), Pizzeria Venti hand-tosses a handful of oven-baked, circular pies teeming with trans-fat-free toppings. Like a repertory theater, Venti's homespun crust acts as a stage for more than 20 pizza performances. The pillowy crusts are pedestals for varieties such as house-made italian sausage, seasoned with fennel, fresh basil, and herbs ($3.50 for a slice) or chicken vesuvio which touts a roasted breast of chicken, mushrooms, black olives and garlic ($4.75 per slice). Though pizza prevails as Venti's main attraction, the menu is also stocked with baked pastas ($6.50+), salads ($6+), and soups ($3+) to create a culinary lineup that is more well-rounded than a reconstructed Humpty Dumpty.
In the midst of ever-multiplying chain eateries, Gabriel's Pizza embraces its status as a mom-and-pop pizza joint. Though the restaurant boasts patio seating and exposed-brick walls, owners Charley and Allen Eisenmenger generally avoid frills and instead focus on perfecting a menu that brings together New York’s thin-crust pizzas and Chicago’s deep-dish pies. Their fresh dough never sees the inside of a freezer or kitchen igloo, and it takes on a whole new layer of taste when chefs coat it with the restaurant's signature sauce. They top specialty pies with USDA-certified meats and produce largely sourced from a Charleston vendor, gracing dough with accessories ranging from classic pepperoni to rich artichoke hearts. The chefs also craft entrees such as baked spaghetti and ravioli.
Dough goes airborne in Bella-Roma's kitchen as chefs hand-toss crusts for pizzas and calzones. After crisping thin crusts in the oven, chefs ladle on generous toppings to create specialty pizzas such as the Roma Supreme, laden with sausage, beef, and peppers, or the barbecue chicken, which lies on a thick carpet of smoked gouda and fontina cheeses. Alternately, square deep-dish pizzas deliver thicker crust, deeper layers of cheese, and square-cut pepperonis for patrons who are allergic to circles. Once prepped, pies are set atop tables for dine-in or slipped into boxes for takeout. Bella-Roma also serves up nonpizza fare, including beef or five-cheese lasagnas and sub sandwiches on 8-inch hoagie rolls.
The talented chefs at Big Lane's Pizza silence tumultuous belly bellows by assembling fresh ingredients into mammoth, meat-laden pizzas served alongside classic Italian eats. Big Lane’s hefty pies, which come as big as 20 inches, anchor themselves to tables with a choice of more than 20 toppings, including banana peppers, ricotta, and grilled chicken. A variety of baked pastas vies for palate popularity and arrives accompanied by house salad and garlic knots. Hot and cold subs served on 12-inch italian rolls allow guests to repurpose forks into back scratchers, and vegetarian salads quell herbivorous cravings.
Crowned Best Overall Restaurant by the Knoxville News Sentinel in 2010, Puleo’s Grille takes tongues on a whirlwind taste tour with its eclectic menu of Southern and Italian classics. Circle tooth wagons around scrumptious orders of fried green tomatoes partnered with a savory side of stone-ground cheese grits and country gravy ($6.99), or lay a delectable claim on Italian mainstays such as lasagna ($11.99) or artichoke- and caper-flecked chicken piccata, which gets its beauty sleep atop a bed of linguini draped in lemon wine sauce ($14.99).
Some of the tasty pizzas, calzones, and strombolis at Roman’s Pizza share a surprising secret: they’re free of gluten. A separate gluten-free menu sets even sensitive tummies to rumbling for pizza, pasta, and calzones made from the chef's special gluten-free dough, which is tastier than traditional dough whose gluten has been dipped in invisible ink. The standard menu spotlights a range of authentic Italian fare, including Sicilian-style pizzas and hearty lasagna.