Though Terry "Joe" Black spent more than two decades in the restaurant and food industries, for many years the notion of opening his own pizzeria remained a wistful one. Smitten with the restaurant business during his college years, he spent the first 15 years of his career working for national chains, then another 10 in food distribution. It wasn’t until Black met and befriended Nick Heddings, owner of Arizona Pizza Company in Tucson, that the gears were set in motion to allow Black to make the leap to ownership, spurred in part by Heddings's support and pizza recipe. Black and his wife, Mary, kept the concept simple: a limited menu centered around tasty, New York–style pizza. They resolved to be fanatical about their customers’ experience and to create a welcoming, neighborhood feel. To further that goal, Black and his family remain active with local schools and organizations to this day.
Their focus on quality and friendliness has paid off. Of Jimmy & Joe’s signature "Serious Slice," blogger Michele Laudig said—as part of the Phoenix New Times’ 100 Favorite Dishes series in 2010—"It's super thin and crisp on the bottom, with puffy, chewy edges." Each gigantic slice is cut from the 24-inch Big Jimmy, arrives on its own metal pan, and, like a celebrity’s engagement ring, is bigger than the average person's head. As testament to its food’s deliciousness, the restaurant has won multiple awards, including the Reader Pick for Best Pizzeria in the East Valley Tribune's 2011 Best of East Valley.
With its broad spectrum of Italian eats, NY 54 Pizza & Ristorante's menu "has everything you've been craving," according to Go Gilbert! magazine. The kitchen staff whips up fresh pizza dough and sauce each morning before baking crusts to a golden brown in a stone oven. The restaurant's crusade for freshness extends into wings that never see the inside of a walk-in freezer and breadcrumbs ground and seasoned in-house.
In keeping with NY 54's Big Apple theme, chefs import authentic treats from New York City, including knishes from Coney Island and crumb cake from a Brooklyn bakery. Inside the restaurant, a backdrop of exposed brick peeks from behind vintage framed photos of the Yankees and native New Yorker Robert De Niro.
Papa Murphy’s serves up a tasty menu of handmade "take ‘n’ bake" pizzas created using dough, cheeses, meats, and veggies that are freshly prepared every day. After customers choose their pie, Papa Murphy's personable pizza fashioners will build the pizza in-store and then package it for customers to bake at home in the oven, in a pottery kiln, or over a pile of burning cookbooks. Customers can select one of Papa Murphy's signature pizzas or customize their pie to a more specific taste, culling from the four sauces, three crusts, and more than 20 toppings available. Watch as Papa Murphy’s pizza professionals corral the ingredients of a signature pizza such as the Cowboy ($11.99 for the 16” family size), complete with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, and black olives, or request a Chicago-style stuffed pizza ($14.99 for the family size), packed with onions, mozzarella, four kinds of meat, and one of the most efficient public-transit systems in America. Thin-crust fans can opt for an Herb Chicken Mediterranean deLITE ($11.99 for a large), smothered with feta cheese, olive oil, and spinach, and veggievores can avail themselves of Papa Murphy’s gourmet vegetarian ($15.99 for the family size) option, which comes saturated with a creamy garlic sauce. Side your pizza with a chicken Caesar salad ($5.99), an order of cheesy bread ($3.99), or a two-liter soda ($2.09).
In order to craft a truly authentic New York–style pizza, NYPD Pizza holds that only New York water will do. All of its kitchens boast a custom filtration system that replicates the flavor and character of Big Apple tap water, said to give the city's pizza and bagel dough its trademark flavor. At NYPD Pizza, that meticulously made dough is hand-tossed and baked inside of a classic stone oven. Similar care is put into selecting the rest of the ingredients—the kitchen strives to use only fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, and employs exclusive cheese blends from Wisconsin and California.
The menu sports more than 15 specialty pizzas, many of which are New York–themed, such as the signature Brooklyn Family topped with pepperoni, sausage, and fresh basil. Other standouts include a Veganizza with veggies, Daiya vegan cheese, and an optional gluten-free crust, and a Pizza Blanca white pie with olive oil and crushed garlic. Slices of pizza, bites of Italian sandwiches, and family-size helpings of pasta all pair well with sips of NYPD Uptown Amber Ale, a craft beer brewed exclusively for NYPD Pizza by The Phoenix Ale Brewery.
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.
Michael Merendino grew up hearing stories about his family history. Sitting in his father's pizzeria, he learned how the Merendinos left Sicily for Long Island in the 1900s, and about the bits of Old World culture that they brought along with them. One such touchstone was the rustica: a small, pizza-like creation traditionally made with unused pieces of bread dough. Michael brought the rustica with him when he moved from the East Coast to the East Valley, making it the star of his menus at Crust Restaurants.
Crust's hand-stretched rusticas arrive topped with everything from marinated tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to arugula and prosciutto, and are sized for individual diners. To help feed larger groups, the chefs also bake 20-inch, thin-crust pies as well as square pizzas ideal for diners on a strict Euclidean diet. Hearty entrées such as homemade meatball parmigiana, chicken marsala, and shrimp scampi, round out the menu of comforting Italian-American favorites.