Not every pizza place has a Wall of Fame, let alone a Wall of Shame. Pizza Xtreme, however, entreats customers with a dare that echoes its name: eat all 7 pounds of a one-topping, jumbo pie with the help of just one friend, and you've won the 28" Challenge. The rules demand that you get it all down in less than an hour, though, and as the Wall of Shame and pile of half-eaten pies testifies, this is no easy feat.
The kitchen team accommodates the more gastronomically reserved by making single servings of hand-tossed pizza, which it decorates with toppings such as italian sausage, grilled chicken, smoked gouda, and crumbled eggs. Chefs also bake specialty pies and non-pizza goodness, such as calzones, cube-shaped tomatoes, customizable pasta dishes, and oven-baked ciabatta sandwiches such as the pesto-strewn turkey artichoke. Pizza Xtreme’s staff also pours out a selection of wine and beer to complement the food.
Joseph and Efren Boglio grew up in a Northern Italian town near Torino, raised by a mother locally renowned for her cooking abilities. Although the brothers loved the double-crusted, ricotta-stuffed pizza that she made every Easter, it wasn't until they moved across the ocean to Chicago that they realized just how special it was. Unable to find an equivalent after eating their way through local pizzerias and hunting pizzas in the wild, they opened Giordano's in 1974 with the goal of recreating the savory pie from their childhood. They've adapted their style over the years, but the concept has stayed the same: thick layers of mozzarella submerged in rich tomato sauce and served in a shallow bowl of golden dough. Diners can add ingredients such as spinach, sausage, or shrimp. Even though the Giordano’s deep-dish empire has expanded to Florida, its menu retains its old-country stamp with cuisine such as juicy italian beef and housemade meatballs.
CiCi’s Pizza combines the variety of a buffet with the thrill of bottomless pizza. Each pie is crafted with dough made from scratch daily and then slathered with homemade marinara and showered with toppings ranging from traditional pepperoni and Italian-style sausage to creative combinations including buffalo chicken and mac 'n' cheese. The buffet is stocked with a plethora of fresh pastas, as well as signature salads with the option to put tossing talents to the test at the salad bar. After they've feasted on savory options, diners can revisit the buffet for dessert including freshly baked brownies, slices of apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing—or they can eat dessert first, thereby tearing an irreparable hole in the space-time continuum.
Jointly owned by Italian and Brazilian chefs, Francesco’s Pizzeria divides its menu up according to the national origin of each dish. For a taste of Italy, diners can sink teeth into a traditional margherita pizza or Capricciosa pizza with calabrese sausage, while unique toppings of heart of palm, cinnamon, and guava denote a Brazilian pizza’s tropical roots.
Enormous front windows flood the brick-lined restaurant with light, illuminating plates covered in five styles of wings and hearty baked pastas. When not occupied chewing through a sub, guests can study the dining room’s irreverent framed pictures of cartoon vegetables dancing on cutting boards, lounging by the pool, and doing one another’s taxes.
The same love for pizza and beer that fueled three college students in 1974 transformed their lives as they expanded their business from one rundown building in Atlanta to about 150 Mellow Mushroom restaurants across 15 states today. Each eatery owes its individual style to each location being locally owned and operated, much like impressionist painters owed their individual style to their number of ears. In the kitchens, chefs assemble grilled and deli-style hoagies and bake calzones and pizzas in stone hearths using dough made with natural spring water. Though many of the restaurant's dishes have remained on the menu since its inception, the culinary crew frequently devises new, often gluten-free, dishes to keep senior-ranking pepperonis from becoming too powerful. Servers pair dishes with their location's own set of local brews, which fit into a collection of up to 50 microbrewed beers on tap and in bottles. Brewers such as Bell's, Abita, and Dogfish Head are also featured in regular beer events.
American craft beers, particularly from Florida breweries, fill the 51 drafts in Eternal Tap's rustic bar, which also stocks more than 100 bottled beers, an extensive bourbon selection, and fixings for mixed drinks and beer cocktails. These libations complement the kitchen's hand-tossed 10- and 16-inch pizzas, upon which chefs can sprinkle a choice of toppings—banana peppers, sliced sausage, and black olives among them—before firing pies in a brick oven. Along with pizzas, the culinary team specializes in other homemade delicacies, including hummus, soups, bread sticks, and pretzels flavored with cinnamon sugar or salt and parmesan.
The latest sports games flicker across Eternal Tap's more than 20 televisions. On Wednesday, jazz and blues musicians score meals with soulful solos, and during Tuesday and Thursday happy hours, local pianists entertain guests by tickling the ivories, rather than tickling diners until they sing an entire Billy Joel song.