Mazzio's Italian Eatery's staff rolls out a buffet for lunch and dinner populated with tasty Italian cuisine that they also serve à la carte. The restaurant's staff has been perfecting its culinary modus operandi for more than 50 years, long enough to evolve the pizza selection to include three levels of thickness. Chefs bake standard, deep-dish, and thin crusts—available in gluten-free form—and load each with toppings such as caramelized onions and giant pepperoni. The kitchen makes pasta plates to order, some baked in the oven, such as lasagna, and some tossed in sauce, such as the mainstay spaghetti and meatballs. The signature calzone radiates the ambrosial scent of pizza dough stuffed with meat and cheese, and it's meant to be shared, unlike a pogo stick.
Fred Cerami’s first venture into the food industry was selling hot dogs on the streets of Hattiesburg. He loved feeding people, but wanted to incorporate his Sicilian heritage and generations of family recipes into his work. So in 1977, he left the streets, came inside, and laid down his roots within the kitchen of Cerami’s Italian Restaurant. Today, Fred’s daughter Alissa runs the restaurant, but not much else has changed. The kitchen still churns out homemade ravioli, lasagna, and spaghetti with meatballs, Italian flags still adorn the walls of the dining room, and Fred’s old Hattiesburg hot-dog wagon is still there, enjoying its healthier second act as an all-you-can-eat salad bar.
More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.
Comfort food doesn't have a reputation for being healthy, but the cooks at Fresh Market Cafe strive to change that by putting a nutritious twist on southern favorites. The kitchen staffers prepare their vegetables in chicken stock or a ham base, eschewing grease, oil, or butter for healthier alternatives. Baked fresh every morning, their pies, skillet cornbread, and entrees contain no MSG or artificial flavors, instead relying on fresh and natural ingredients. Customers pressed for time can take advantage of the carry-out and drive-thru options, or they can enjoy a leisurely meal in the restaurant.
Mr. Yi Express dishes up Chinese-food favorites in a convenient fast-casual environment. Cooks fry egg rolls that crunch when they're bitten into or used as drumsticks, and they pile plates with spicy orange chicken or shrimp fu yung. There are also vegetarian options, including gourmet veggie or tofu stir-fries.
Despite their clean, colorful appearance, making donuts is tedious work. The cook has to deep-fry them in oil, careful not to turn them over or take them out too early, in hopes they'll darken to a perfect golden brown. And that's to say nothing of fillings, frosting, and toppings. But the staff at Planet Donut is up to the challenge, stocking old-school glass cases with their round treats. They whip up a range of flavors, from blueberry-studded to classic glaze.