While the heart of Johnny Carino's menu is rooted in genuine Italian traditions, forward-thinking creativity has birthed what they like to call their signature dishes. Led by executive chef Chris Peitersen, the seasoned kitchen staff blends fresh ingredients along with extra time to create high-quality, spiced Italian preparations. Diners will find entrees such as 16-layer lasagna with made-from-scratch sauce, and pizzas made with home-baked crust. Other signature choices include the spicy shrimp and chicken, baked stuffed mushrooms topped with house lemon basil cream sauce, and tiramisu made from the ground up. Entrees can be paired any selection from Carino's extensive wine list and drink menu.
At Garlic Breath Pizza Company, chefs roll crust by hand from dough risen and kneaded from scratch each morning. Each pizza dons inventive toppings, evoking the flavors of tacos and chili dogs. Some pies pair tater tots with onions, or celebrate vegetables in the case of the Tree Hugger pie with tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers. Pastas, such as chicken fettuccine alfredo, salads, and hot, hearty sandwiches help round out the menu, which Garlic Breath delivers throughout Round Rock free of charge.
Inspired by the artists living around him in Laguna Beach, Sid Fanarof sought to do something creative in the kitchen. The result was zpizza, which now has locations across the globe, each filled with bustling chefs experimenting with ingredients traditionally associated with Indian, Californian, and Mexican cuisine. Pizzas use organic vegetables and skim-milk mozzarella, and their organic wheat flour bakes over an open flame to a crisp finish. “If you don’t hear the crunch, it’s not a zpizza,” Fanarof says of the crusts on his website. Chefs first slather the crusts with sweet basil pesto, roasted-garlic sauce, or organic tomato sauce. Their hands flutter across, sprinkling on fistfuls of toppings such as MSG-free pepperoni, additive-free sausage, three types of mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and pine nuts. Vegan cheese and gluten-free crusts allow everyone to enjoy the pizzas except for those trying to hide the fact that they superglued their mouths closed.
Although they both hail from the Mediterranean, pizza and falafel don't often appear on the same menu. Diners at Rome's Pizza, however, might be prompted to wonder why—it turns out it's quite possible for one kitchen to carry both dishes off nicely. In a 2004 review, the Current's Alejandro Pérez praised the pesto pizza's "light, crispy crust and full-bodied flavor" and the falafel sandwich's "hot, crisp patties."
This juxtaposition isn't the only surprise on the extensive menu. Sure, you can get red sauce and pepperoni atop your pie, but Rome's specializes in white pizzas slicked with olive oil, herbs, and smoked garlic. Strombolis and calzones fold in on themselves to make for a hearty meal or a high-powered alternative to a water balloon, and sandwiches and pasta display the same love of big portions and off-the-beaten-path ingredients. On the Mediterranean side of the menu, there are also staples such as dolmas, hummus, and gyros.
At all five Craig O?s locations, the culinary team begins the day the same way?making pizza dough and sauces entirely from scratch. Combined with whole-milk mozzarella, each hand-tossed or thin, New York?style crust forms the foundation of specialty pies such as the FM 1826, with barbecue beef brisket and pickled jalapenos. Craig O?s pizza can also come customized with 20-plus toppings, such as caramelized onions and canadian bacon, or even be made gluten- and cheese-free for diners with dietary restrictions.
Though pizza remains Craig O?s bedrock, it isn?t the only Italian treat the restaurant has dished out since opening in 2003. Nine dressing options, including housemade Italian and creamy cilantro, crown salads made fresh everyday, and housemade alfredo sauce tops penne pasta and chicken to create a dish that ?absolutely rocks,? according to KVUE News.
Brews and wine can complement meals, and a children?s playground beside the Lakeway location?s outdoor patio entertains youngsters more conveniently than highchairs with built-in water slides.
Inside an intimately lit dining room, exposed brickwork and a metal trellis laden with leafy vines and decorative grapes evoke the feeling of an eatery in the Italian countryside. Mezzaluna Italian Grill's menu strives to create a similar gustatory impact with its rustic assortment of oven-baked and pan-seared entrees. Hand- or slingshot-tossed pizzas emerge from the kitchen beneath a blanket of 21 possible toppings, such as sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, and roasted garlic. Entrees of blackened shrimp, sautéed veal, or seared wild Alaskan salmon prime appetites for cannolis or crème brûlée.