Though they're both made from scratch daily, the two house sauces at Notini's are quite different. One is a plain tomato sauce, rich and ready for pouring over meatballs and Italian sausage. The other is a white alfredo sauce, meant to be mixed with fettuccine and meats such as chicken and shrimp. These family recipes define many of the dishes on the menu—a compilation of classic Italian foods that was created as an homage to the original Notini, Antonio.
Originally from Barga, Italy, Antonio Notini worked in the restaurant industry from the time he immigrated in 1909 until his retirement in 1960. Today, his son and grandsons manage Notini's with a deference to family tradition. They prepare po' boy sandwiches, pastas, and specialty pizzas to go with their signature sauces, and they serve up mint-spiced tea both by the glass and the take-home gallon. Weekly specials reward returning visitors with deals such as all-you-can-eat spaghetti on Wednesdays, which is otherwise only available if you hide out in their kitchen until after closing time.
Pietro’s has baked hand-tossed New York–style pizza, calzones, and hot sandwiches in a stone gas oven for more than 30 years, each hand-crafted from secret Sicilian family recipes. Oven-baked steak and cheese sandwiches taunt tasteless rulers with 12 inches of deliciousness ($7.99), and three-cheese spinach calzones turn and fold the doughtables on regular pizzas ($6.49). The eatery employs 100 percent whole milk mozzarella in the construction of each specialty pie, such as the Hawaiian luau pizza, a festive mouth mingler with juicy pineapple and baked ham in a bubbling blanket of mozzarella cheese ($15.99 for a 14”; $19.99 for an 18”). Patrons are also free to itemize pizza by the slice, minimizing leftovers and risk of marinara audits.
Rated among the top fast-food chains by Zagat in 2010, the crust contractors at Papa Murphy's assemble every ingredient of a pizza before the customer's eyes and pass the uncooked creation on for firing in a home oven. Fashion a custom pie ($9+ for a large) from a palette of 23 fresh toppings, or test the design acumen and hand aerodynamics of Papa Murphy's in-house tastemakers by going with a discus from the signature, stuffed, or delite menus. The Chicago-style stuffed pizza ($14 large; $16 family) smuggles layers of pepperoni and italian sausage under the cover of roma tomatoes, onions, and a mozzarella trench coat, and the hawaiian ($11 large; $13 family), from the signature lineage, comes topped with an archipelago of canadian bacon, Dole pineapple, and mozzarella cheese on a beach of tomato sauce.
The All-You-Care-to-Eat buffet at Gatti’s Pizza packs bellies with a smorgasbord of classic pizzeria eats. After gaining entrance to the buffet ($3.99–$6.99 depending on age), patrons can refuel with slices of Gatti's signature pie, heaps of hot pasta, and stacks of cheese sticks. Those with stomach vacancies left for dessert can grab a piece of the dutch apple treat pizza, or encourage a friend to hastily get it for them by passing them a cinnamon stick like a relay runner's baton. Patrons can rhythmically graze on veggies from the expansive salad bar, loaded with more than 40 items, as their eyes exchange glances with friends or dreamily gaze into the pixilated pupils of the dining room's big-screen TVs.
The Cotton Boll Grill, a Shreveport tradition since the 1930s, offers an eclectic menu of down-home breakfast and lunch favorites. Begin your day with a hearty vegetable omelette ($5.70), three pieces of homemade french toast ($4), or a full stack of hot cakes ($5). Classic lunch munchies include burgers ($3.70–$5.75), deli sandwiches ($3.50–$5.00), Southern-style chicken livers and onions ($7.35), and chicken fried steak ($7.95). The Cotton Boll Grill also offers daily lunch specials. The Bossier City location is open seven days a week, while the Shreveport location is open weekdays only.