The dough wizards at Papa John's create circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
Much like the bird that bears its name - if that bird had opposable thumbs and a penchant for Italian food - Eagle Pizzeria serves up gooey pizzas alongside other Italian favorites. At the casual eatery, framed photos of baseball stars, newspaper clippings, and other sports memorabilia pack the butter-yellow walls, as patrons nosh on pesto bread over red and white checked tablecloths while perusing a menu that includes everything from hot sandwiches to spaghetti with baby clams. Hand-rolled dough, made fresh every day, bakes into a crispy crust that's covered in whole milk mozzarella and specially blended tomato sauce. Specialty pizzas cater to carnivores with a meat lovers' pizza - topped with six meats - and travel the world with Greek toppings such as olives and feta or Hawaiian toppings such as bell peppers and pineapple. Gluten-free crusts are also available.
The resident chefs at Mama Maria's Ristorante have rolled out their own pizza dough for 20 years, crafting pies alongside platters of authentic Italian cuisine. Chefs use softly risen, house-made pizza dough to hold aloft ingredients including tandoori chicken, barbecue chicken, bacon, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. The skilled kitchen staff sautés calamari with onion, green peppers, tomatoes, and olives for calamari siciliana, and sends spaghetti pomodoro out the kitchen doors to anoint fork tines with its complex marinara. Pizza-delivery service ferries pies sheathed in heat-insulated delivery bags to keep pizzas fresh. Mama Maria's also takes its culinary show on the road with catering services designed to feed hungry party guests or whole pasta-aficionado clubs.
Pizza Express bakers love working in front of a crowd. The restaurant's pizza-making station sits directly in front of the storefront window, giving customers an up-close look at how each pie is made. With passerby watching, bakers knead and toss dough before smothering it with zesty tomato sauce and blanketing it with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, black olives, and peppers. Such a spectacle can inspire ravenous cravings for a slice. And though the restaurant specializes in take-out and delivery orders, customers can always take a seat at one of the restaurant's tables to grab a quick bite or eat half of a take-out order and then later explain to the family that the box ate it.
On a charming corner in Noe Valley, the black awning of neighborhood favorite Basso's Restaurant draws guests inside, where they watch chefs pull the crackling crusts of Napolitana-style pizzas from ovens in an open-concept kitchen. Whole-milk mozzarella bubbles on each pie before diners decorate it with toscana salami, organic green-apple slices, or festive tinsel. House-made meatballs, which use beef from the humane farm Niman Ranch, sit inside toasted sandwiches, stand next to forkfuls of spaghetti, or arrive à la carte as sides.