In the kitchens of Italo's Pizza, cooks roll dough and stir sauce made according to family recipes that Italo Ventura brought over from Rome in 1965. After coming to America, Ventura relied on hard work and $1,080 worth of used equipment to build a pizza empire that now includes 11 franchises and two company-owned shops. Chefs prepare spaghetti sauce daily and spread pizza dough 11 to 15 inches in diameter before topping it with sauce, real cheese, and options such as pineapple, olives, bacon, and jalapeño peppers. Chicken pieces can be ordered in dinners and boxes, which come complete with Jo-Jo potatoes, coleslaw, and an automated security system.
Sam and Chuck Owen opened the first Gionino's Pizzeria in Tallmadge, Ohio, more than 20 years ago. Though small, the eatery proved to be a fierce competitor in the restaurant world due to its pizza dough, which was made fresh every day, its high-quality cheeses?including fresh mozzarella and aged provolone?and its housemade pizza and wing sauces. The pizzeria now spans 40 locations across northeast Ohio.
The oven masters behind Guys Pizza Co. understand the benefit of making their pizza dough daily and topping their pies with fresh meats and hand-cut vegetables. Kids will happily eat anything that looks like pizza, but parents can feel comfortable giving them slices made with real flour and ingredients instead of preprocessed concoctions. They cover wide New York–style pies and deep Chicago-style crusts with custom combinations of toppings that range from classic pepperoni and mushrooms to roasted red peppers and gyro meat. They can even meet the demands of gluten-free diners or gluten-free Bond villains by making small and medium pizzas with a rice-flour crust. The pizza-makers have also tested a variety of specialty pies, including the loaded baked potato topped with white garlic sauce, smashed potatoes, bacon, and three types of cheese. They also cook up hearty panini-style sandwiches called Guyninis, calzones that serve up to 10 people, and stuffed s'mores desserts that pack gooey marshmallows and chocolate into a graham-cracker square.
Chicago-style pizza is usually shorthand for deep-dish, but not at Jack and Joe's Pizza LLC. Instead, its Taste of Chicago pie draws inspiration from Chicago-style hot dogs, with relish sauce, kielbasa, and sweet hot peppers sprinkled atop poppyseed crust. The pie is part of Jack and Joe's masterpiece collection, whose other unusual pizzas include Peanut Butter Mania, a medley of peanut-butter sauce and apples sautéed with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Of course, pizza-makers also crown their stone-baked crust with more traditional fixings, including mushrooms, green peppers, and sausage. Classic pizzeria and Italian-style dishes, such as garlic parmesan breadsticks and breakfast carbonaras, round out Jack and Joe's menu.
Italo Ventura immigrated to the United States from his native Rome in 1965, taking up a tiny corner of his father-in-law's fruit market to set up a tiny pizza joint. Like a sleepwalking Teddy Roosevelt, Italo soon found himself living the American dream, taking business classes at night at Malone College while spending days at his pizzeria, eventually building his business to 13 stores with a combination of top-quality ingredients, carefully guarded sauce recipes, and hard work. Today, a loyal customer base chows down on Italo's homestyle spaghetti or baked lasagna and pepperoni rolls, while carving up slices of pizza pie topped with sausage, mushrooms, salami, and spicy peppers.