Flavorsome ingredients and fresh, handmade dough marry in gourmet specialty pizzas such as Mr. C's Meat Lover's Stuffed Pizza Pie (pepperoni, salami, sausage, meatballs, beef, ham, and five cheeses, $18.49 for a 12-inch pie), the hot and spicy barbecue chicken ($12.49 for a 12-inch), and the vegetarian Pizza Bianca (Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, romano, fresh basil, black pepper, and black olives, $11.49 for a 12-inch). Indulge in a plate of impeccably prepared pasta such as baked ziti ($10.99), or use this Groupon toward a family-sized portion of meat tortellini ($32.99 for four servings). Italian entree specialties include fettuccini Alfredo with shrimp ($9.99), spaghetti with clams tossed in either a light garlic-butter sauce or classic marinara ($10.99), and eggplant parmesan served with a side of spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad ($9.49). Subs, spicy wings, salads, and desserts round out the menu into a nicely round circle tastier than a traffic circle or rutabaga crop circle.
Named best area pizza source by Yellow Scene Magazine, Zamparelli's Italian Bistro crafts innovatively assembled pastas and East Coast–inflected thin-crust pizzas acclaimed by Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine. Watch the kitchen for rising steam signals that mean either your pepperoni pizza ($12) is emerging from the brick oven or that rival tribes of eaters are attacking the gastro-garrison. Sharp-eyed servers guide patrons through the monolithic menu, which uses rich Italian sauce in inventive configurations that better irrigate your fields of taste buds. Sink your teeth into succulent pappardelle Bolognese ($14), or sink your spoon into a bowl of seasonal soup ($4.75). Cold sandwiches, such as a turkey club featuring Nueske’s bacon ($7.75), and hot handhelds such as an eggplant parmesan sandwich ($7.75) give silverware a respite from its dinerly duties. Unlike 18-and-older pizzerias and seniors-only jungle gyms, Zamparelli's welcomes tiny people with a quartet of $5 children's dishes that bring sprightly smiles to miniature mouths.
Rosati’s Pizza's history dates back to the early 1900s, when a recent Italian immigrant named Ferdinand Rosati moved from New York to Chicago with the dream of opening a restaurant. His first attempt was modest—with Ferdinand simultaneously fulfilling the duties of chef, server, dishwasher, and host—but quickly gained popularity for its crispy-thin-crust pizzas, originally served as complimentary appetizers. Encouraged by the public's response to the pies, Ferdinand and his son, Sam, decided to focus their efforts on opening a true pizzeria.
Today, at Rosati's Pizza locations across the country, plumes of heat swirl above piping-hot pies concocted from handmade sauce and dough. A smattering of toppings cling to five crust options—crispy thin, double dough, Chicago-style, pan, and superstuffed—as well as hide from their hungry predators inside hand-rolled calzones. Homemade lasagna and fettuccine alfredo battle for the top pasta spot, and fried chicken, baby back ribs, and fried-shrimp dinners work together to distract diners from hard-to-resist buffalo wings.
Street Legal Pizza's stalwart kitchen crew hand-kneads dough and stirs up fresh sauce daily to construct a menu of stone-fired, New York–style pizzas. Each large pizza firsts surrounds grana padano cheese and fresh basil with a crust drizzled in olive oil. Dining duos may then anchor dough disks with up to two toppings, such as green peppers, meatballs, sundried tomatoes, garlic-infused chicken strips, or genuine chunks of leaning tower. An order of garlic bread and two sodas offer needed companionship to patrons should their pie suddenly vanish or refuse to participate in further small talk.
Starting at 5 p.m. each day, members of the Gilhooly family begin twirling doughy disks high in the air. These stewards of Oblio's Pizzeria then flick their creations into the oven and watch as the almost-tangible heat forms a 3-D platter complete with cheese, tomato sauce, and a bounty of toppings. Customizable pizzas come with one of three types of sauce—tomato, seasoned olive oil, or barbecue—and any of 23 available toppings, including canadian bacon, banana peppers, and salami. Specialty pies combine these treats into themed meals; the Giovanni features five meats, the Berkeley Blues has bountiful veggies, and the Santa Cruizin’ boasts Cali-inspired artichoke hearts and minced garlic. Patrons can watch all the action unfold, ogling their pies, lasagna, or meatball sandwiches as they take shape within the open kitchen. Those content with a little surprise can leave the cooking to the Gilhoolys and decamp to the sunny patio or sip luscious nectars from the vino bar as they wait.