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.
Pizza Hut opened in 1958 and continues to sling its famed hand-tossed, pan, thin, and stuffed-crust pizzas alongside a menu of snack-ready eats. Aspiring pizza artisans can build their own pizzas ($3.48–$3.57 for a personal pan cheese, including tax) choosing from any of the protein-packed meat toppings including pepperoni, ham, pork, beef, italian sausage, bacon pieces, and chicken. Use veggie toppings to augment a meaty meal, or craft a rounded garden cornucopia of mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, and banana peppers.
Colonel Eure opened his first pizza restaurant in 1964 and when time came to open another franchise five years later, he named it Gatti's Pizza in honor of his wife's maiden name. The Gatti's Pizza empire steadily expanded over the next four decades, thanks in part to a commitment to high-quality ingredients such as real cheese, yeast-risen dough made fresh daily, and a 16-ingredient secret sauce protected by Swiss bankers. Today, chefs prepare specialty pies such as the barbecue chicken and bacon double cheeseburger pizza and bake custom creations from a choice of 17 toppings and three crust options. Many Gatti's locations boast a dining room complete with a big-screen TV, and some include a Veggie Tales room, a sports room, and a game room.
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.
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.