At Bolli Bros. Pizza, brothers Kevin and Mark Bollinger pile their handmade dough with 100% whole-milk mozzarella and eclectic comfort-food combinations. They scoop gooey homemade macaroni and cheese onto crusts and shower the Bollisagna pizza with penne noodles, just as ancient Romans did to their most popular emperors. Other creative concoctions include the Frito Pie pizza weighed down with homemade chili, crunchy Fritos, cheddar, and mozzarella. Kevin and Mark continue their made-from-scratch concept with desserts, where cheesecake flavors such as Reese’s peanut butter and triple chocolate fill housemade graham-cracker crusts.
During the surfing craze of 1959, Straw Hat Pizza presented a lighter version of the hearty Italian-American snack that caught on with the swimsuit set in San Leandro, a small town on San Francisco Bay. The crust's layers were flaky and crisp, and bubbling under a blend of six naturally-aged cheeses and spoonfuls of fresh sauce. Salad bars appeared at the chain a decade later, reflecting the epoch's free-love ethos that encouraged communion between animals and vegetables. The company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009, having come a long way from the quirky kitchen that slung beer, screened old-time movies, and showcased local banjo bands.
Today, the cold beer still flows from the bars at each location, and the menu now features pasta and Hot Hat sandwiches, pizza-dough pockets enveloping hearty fillings such as meatballs or roast beef. Tomatoes are hand-sorted to give sauce a consistent texture and full, ripe flavor, and wheat is grown according to Italian tradition, in volcanic soil or bowls of mom's pasta set at least 4,500 feet above sea level. Staying abreast of health and ecological concerns, the company manufactures boxes and napkins from recycled materials, and keeps trans fats out of its menu.
Mazzei's menu is loaded with thin-crust (8"–16") and deep-dish (12"–16") pizzas. Gourmet specialty selections include the vegetarian ($7.50–$17.75) with sun-dried tomato and pesto sauce, zucchini, squash, Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, feta, and red onion. Quell hunger with the supreme pizza ($8.50–$22.00), loaded with Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and black and green olives. With close to 30 toppings to choose from, you can build your own pie ($6 to $14 base price, toppings range from $.35 to $3 each) that's custom made to your tastes. Mazzei's also offers a range of appetizers, salads, pastas, subs, and calzones, as well as an extensive beer and wine list.
Chefs cook handmade meatballs, the scent of spices and beef mingling in the kitchen at Lomonte’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria. Certain dishes, such as mussels or crab claws, are available only when in season, guaranteeing that they're fresh and that they match holiday decorations. White wine simmers in skillets on the stove, its dry essence cooking down into a sauce for veal and chicken, and onions caramelize in nearby pans. Chefs sprinkle the golden onions over deep-dish pizzas with italian sausage. The snap of opening bottles floats from vessels of Peroni and Moretti, and the beer list also includes domestic brews such as organic Sam Smith lager. The wine list, like a U.N. delegate trying to move a futon, enlists help from around the world, with choices including Italian chianti and New Zealand chardonnay.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
Inside Original Napoli Italian Restaurant by Papa Zack's bustling kitchen, a team of talented chefs craft house-made pasta before dousing noodles in meat, marinara, alfredo, and clam sauces. This kitchen architects the eatery's "what," but the staff's "how" involves constant, family-friendly friendliness. The culinary experts give chicken the royal treatment, dressing it up in a variety of dishes, including marsala, piccata, parmigiana, and rollatini. Sandwiches and pizza in two crusts round out the Italian-centric menu. The catering leg of the business feeds multicourse meals for at least 10 people or 5 people saving half their meal for their fallout shelter.
At the heart of every dish on Candelari's menu—including its signature thin- ($17–$22), thick- ($18–$23), and deep-dish-style ($19–$24) pizzas—are the famous Italian-sausage recipes of Alberto Candelari, all of which are made with choice meat, natural spices, and hints of liqueur. The T-Rex's spread of pepperoni, ground sirloin, useless forearms, Canadian bacon, and Candelari’s andouille and original Italian sausages lets you sample all of the finest meat-fruits of Candelari Sausage Company founders Greg Wheeler and “King of Sausages” Michael May (Alberto’s grandson). Build up to its bounty beforehand with a plate of sausage misto ($7), which features grilled Italian, turkey-jalapeño, and chicken-apple sausages piled atop provolone polenta. Diners that look suspiciously like flocks of seagulls inside a trench coat can find out what a grilled salmon ($14) tastes like when complemented by gulf shrimp, lemon-caper butter sauce, and veggies. Otherwise, avoid all the menu botheration and opt for the daily lunch buffet ($9–$9.50), which includes unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, and a drink.