At Countryside Pizza & Grill, chefs start each day making two ingredients from scratch: pizza dough and sauce. At the first call, the pizza professors begin to roll the prepped dough with garlic butter, adding layers of sauce, mozzarella, and toppings—including pesto sauce, bacon, and jalapeños—to ensure a savory pie that is as piping hot as it is packed with freshness. But, as the name suggests, there's more to the eatery than food shaped like a 1491 model of earth. The chefs also make calzones, burgers, and steak and seafood entrees such as top sirloin or wild Pacific salmon.
No man is an island, but Mazzi's proves that an island can be a man's muse. Since 1970, founder Frank Ernandes has looked to his father's former home—Favignana, an island off of western Sicily—for culinary inspiration. His menu prioritizes authenticity in both flavor and preparation, relying on locally sourced ingredients and homestyle cooking methods to give entrees their rustic edge. Before being crushed into the house pesto sauce or edible confetti, basil leaves arrive from the restaurant's own farm. Tomatoes and vegetables reach the kitchen from other nearby harvests. And the bread, fettuccine, and sausage are all housemade.
Mazzi's design also recalls its pastoral island roots. Around a villa-like exterior, blossoms cascade from hanging flowerpots and water burbles down the stone steps of a fountain. Stained-glass depictions of vines and grapes spiral on the windows, looking in on the dining room and its two fireplaces—glowing fixtures that helped Mazzi's earn a spot on Yahoo! Voices' list of Eugene's most romantic restaurants. The venue is no stranger to awards for its food, either. In 2011, it won second place in the Register-Guard's Italian category and took the same spot in Eugene Weekly's The Best of Eugene 2012–2013.
At Cozmic Pizza, the culinary team kneads organic flour made from local Willamette Valley wheat into crusts that are brushed with buttery extra-virgin olive oil. Then, they pile on toppings and set the pies to bake on 700-degree stones. The list of toppings—many of which are also organic, such as the apples—breaks traditional pizza boundaries by including unique options such as kale, and vegetarian meats, which offer an alternative to the eatery’s local sausage, smoked pork, and pepperoni.
These Jersey-Eugene-style fusion pies are the brainchild of Kirk Giudici, also the founder of Rising Moon Organics. When Kirk decided to embark on a second organic foods endeavor by opening a pizzeria, he found himself drawn to a vintage 1945 building that was an Edsel car dealership back when man didn’t travel only by hovercraft. While renovating the 4,000-square-foot auto display room, the same environmental principles that led Kirk to organics undergirded his decorating approach of using only recycled and repurposed materials. As a result, diners sip their homemade fountain sodas and Oregonian microbrews while perched at a bar made from a shuffleboard and lit with dryer-drum light fixtures from Kirk’s Laundromat.
The restaurant space, massive enough to have once housed a fleet of automobiles, enabled Kirk to create a stage dubbed The Edsel, which has attracted national acts such as Michelle Shocked, The Be Good Tanyas, and eight-time Grammy Award winner Marcia Ball. In addition to musical acts, the pizzeria’s calendar is full of events such as Science Pub, when tipplers learn about topics such as why it’s impossible to teleport your clothes along with your body.
Though images of collegiate and Olympic athletes adorn Track Town Pizza, the 100-seat pizzeria's true stars are back in the kitchen. There, the staff has crafted pies the same way since 1977, topping from-scratch dough with housemade sauce, fresh produce, and more than 20 topping combos.
Many of Track Town's specialties pay homage to the eatery's track-and-field theme, including the Pole Vault, whose vegetarian-friendly medley includes cooked tomatoes and roasted-red-pepper pesto. Others just celebrate rich flavor, such as the Beef Taco, a Mexican-inspired mix featuring refried beans, seasoned beef, chips, and enchilada sauce.
Specialties aside, Track Town's culinary team gives diners a chance to create their own recipe from nearly 30 toppings, including smoked oysters and banana wax peppers. Breadsticks, wings, and customizable salads round out the pizzeria's menu, whose edibles can be complemented with a quintet of wines, 11 draft beers, or a carafe of marinara sauce.
Nestled in verdant rolling hills, Silvan Ridge Winery complements its grapey varietals with a menu of easily chewable eats. Gourmet cheese plates tickle tongues with a variety of aromatic curds from Spring Valley Dairy in nearby Keizer—including dill havarti, smoked gouda, and brie ($7)—and 8-inch wood-fired pizzas ($6.50–$7.50) and crispy caesar side salads ($4.50) carry hunger away as swiftly as hungry warriors plundering an empty pantry. An outdoor patio and surrounding grassy slopes afford picnickers eyefuls of grapevine-laced hills; inside, the fireside room gives couples an excuse to cozy up next to a wood-burning blaze and share a creamy wedge of cheesecake for two ($4). Complimentary wine tastings greet all visitors of legal age.
Whether served as a whole pie or by the slice, ll Pomodoro's New York–style pizza benefits from generous layers of mozzarella cheese made in-house. For a pizza that highlights the mild flavors of this cheese, try a slice of the margherita—a traditional specialty that also piles basil and plum tomatoes on its brick-oven-style crust. Not all of the pies are so wedded to tradition. Take, for example, the buffalo-wing pizza, which usurps expectations with its spicy combination of chicken, wing sauce, and blue cheese.
When they aren’t flattening their dough into round pies or Sicilian-style squares, the chefs tie it into aromatic garlic knots or stuff it with mozzarella and ricotta cheeses to make calzones. In another nod to their Mediterranean influences, they toss kosher lamb and chicken with couscous and dice their veggies with authentic Roman swords.
Question Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar chefs on how their pizzas acquire a rich, smoky flavor, and they'll point you toward the wood-fired oven that burns brightly near the restaurant's main entrance. Inside its superheated walls, pans of crusty crostini, lasagna, and thin-crust pizzas bake at high temperatures that seal in juices and bring out flavor. After checking on pizzas, chefs return to the kitchen, where they fold fresh herbs, premium meats, and fresh seafood into the pastas and regional Italian classics lauded by reporters from Ethos magazine.
Diners at Ambrosia await their meals amid the high ceilings, exposed-brick walls, and rustic accents of a multilevel dining room. Behind an antique wood bar, servers blend specialty cocktails and uncork bottles from the restaurant’s extensive Italian wine list, which was honored with a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. On the first Wednesday of the month, staffers host a wine event in their private tasting room, where guests intent on honing their wine skills can learn about different varietals or practice juggling water balloons filled with fine champagne.