Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
Since co-founding Candelari's Sausage Company in 1993, Michael May has been rightfully known as the "King of Sausages." But after studying the art of crust making under artisan bakers, May decided to push the boundaries of his culinary realm into the land of pizza. He polished his recipes, tamed an oven-dwelling dragon, and teamed up with his business partner and fellow Bellaire High School alum Greg Wheeler to found Candelari's Pizzeria. Today, chefs at the haven's five locations top thin-crust Neapolitan and hearty deep-dish pies with mushrooms, roast chicken, fresh basil, and plenty of Candelari family-recipe sausage—each bite of which mingles peppery spices with notes of liqueur.
Besides pies, Candelari's serves diners lunches of meatball sandwiches and sopressata paninis, and hearty dinners of baked lasagna, penne rustica, and sautéed chicken. Patrons dine-in to pair their Italian smorgasbords with European and Californian vino, or order online for convenient pick-up and delivery service.
The Russo family moved from Italy to New York in 1964, and from New York to Texas in 1978, carrying with them time-honored culinary techniques imported straight from the old country. Anthony Russo has worked side by side with family members and Italian chefs since the age of 12, learning to prepares salads, pastas, and pizzas from only the freshest of ingredients. Anthony's love for his family's cooking grew into a lucrative business, with Russo's Coal Fired Italian Kitchen restaurants and Russo's New York Pizzerias popping up all over the American South.
Like a cookie decorated with Lady Liberty's Social Security Number, Russo's pizza is an edible souvenir of the Big Apple, introducing palates to the thin, crispy brick-oven pies that helped make New York cuisine world famous. In between bites of basil-, anchovy-, and meatball-crowned pizzas, diners feast on baked ziti, lobster ravioli, and tortellini carbonara, as well as oven-cooked flatbread sandwiches and toasted calzones.
The tempting and decidedly not-fast-food aromas of sizzling gaucho-style meats, mozzarella, and Brazilian catupiry cheese emanate from Friend’s Pizzeria’s brick oven. The pizzeria’s chefs deftly combine Italian and Brazilian influences with a menu of more than 20 gourmet pizzas. In addition to traditional pies, Friend’s whips up its specialty fusion pizzas, which blend Latin American flavors such as shrimp, green olives, or tangy and soft catupiry cheese. Towering Brazilian Monster burgers challenge diners and tightly fastened bow ties to accommodate their hefty portions of sirloin steak, potato skins, and eggs. After placing orders at a walk-up counter, diners nosh in a dining room festooned with Brazilian- and Italian-flag prints, line drawings of city scenes, and patriotic green and yellow walls.
Since its inception in 1974, Birraporetti's has melded Italian cooking with a traditional Irish-pub atmosphere, serving hand-tossed pizzas baked in their stone oven alongside robust Irish coffee and spirits. CBS Houston highlighted its oven-fired pizzas as some of the best in the city, specifically lauding the house bianco pizza for eschewing traditional ingredients such as tomato sauce and shredded copies of the Mona Lisa. The kitchen remains open until midnight to accommodate late-night cravings, yet the chefs still rise in time to serve Sunday jazz brunches replete with made-to-order waffles, omelets, and desserts served amid live jazz performances.
The Big Apple has clearly won the pizza war—at least at Pizza Love. In the kitchen, the culinary team festoons their New York-style pies with a vast selection of toppings ranging from roasted peppers to Philly steak. In addition to traditional red sauce, they also slather dough with five other sauces that add uniqueness to their specialty pizzas. Garlic olive oil sauce underpins the Healthy Love pizza topped with spinach, mushrooms, and red bell peppers, while barbecue sauce infuses tangy flavor into the BBQ chicken pizza. Diners can also sate cravings for red sauce with pasta and calzones, before ending their meals on a sweet note by smooching their empty plates and ordering a slice of tiramisu.